Sporting KC president confesses “strong possibility” Matt Besler could be Europe-bound

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Matt Besler hasn’t even returned to the field for Sporting Kansas City, but Robb Heineman’s already facing the prospect of losing him. After his captain’s strong World Cup with the United States, the Sporting CEO has received calls from “leagues all over the world,” forcing him to come to grips with the possibility of losing one of Major League Soccer’s elite defenders.

According to reporting by The Kansas City Star, Heineman has described that possibility as “strong,” with Besler’s agent saying the move could happened “probably within the next 10 days.”

Not only did Sporting get hard done by the World Cup, but they’re about to pay the price in the aftermath.

From The Star:

[Agent Eddie] Rock said Besler is weighing three options regarding his future — sign an extension with Sporting Kansas City, transfer to a club in the English Premier League or transfer to a club in Bundesliga …

“If Matt re-signs with the league now, his intentions would be to be a one-club player for the rest of his career. His goal would be to finish atop Sporting and the Wizards in all-time appearances and longest captaincy. He would try to build a dynasty there,” Rock said …

Heineman said he has already received terms sheets with official transfer fee offers from European clubs …

Rock said one of his client’s motivations would be to test himself against higher competition – to see if his game can continue to grow. The other obvious benefit financial. Even if Sporting is willing to beat the $1.25 million package the Galaxy gave to Omar Gonzalez last year, Besler may be able to earn more by jumping to Europe. He’s only making $200,000 now.

At 27 years old, Besler’s stock may never be higher. Not only is he coming off a strong performance on the sport’s biggest stage, but a club that buys now can expect to get some return on their investment, should Besler perform well over the next two seasons. If Besler passes up this chance with hopes of moving in the future, that small age increase could hurt teams’ chances to sell him on.

But that’s probably not even a factor in the decision. The underlying question, in the face of what seems to be at least two decent offers, is whether Besler wants to leave at all. As Rock says later in The Star’s piece, if Besler turns down this offer, it will be with the intention of being a on- club man. He’ll want to break the team’s games played records and help build a dynasty along that Kansas-Missouri border.

Not that Sporting can’t do that without Besler. Obviously, he’s the known commodity, but given the money Besler is likely to command, the reigning champions should have a healthy chunk of change to try and fill the hole. Factor in his age, contract status (1.5 years left), quality and demand, you’re probably looking at a fee of somewhere near $4-$6 million, two-thirds of which would go straight into Sporting’s coffers.

All of which may be beside the point. Sporting wants Besler to stay. The question now: Can they convince him to do so?

VIDEO: Portugal lead Iran at HT; Spain 1-1 Morocco

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We’re through the first 45 minutes of Monday’s Group B finales at the 2018 World Cup, and things are happening. A quick rundown…

[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]

Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos combined to commit a disastrous gaffe at midfield, resulting in a goal for Khalid Boutaib in the 14th minute. At this point, Spain would have finished second, behind Portugal, and headed to the far more difficult side of the knockout bracket.

Five minutes later, it was Iniesta who, with a little help from some slightly lesser geniuses, unlocked the Moroccan defense to set up Isco for an emphatic finish. La Furia Roja moved back to the top of the group, on goals scored.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

In the afternoon’s other game, Portugal and Iran appeared destined for a 0-0 scoreline at halftime, until Ricardo Quaresma unleashed a stunning, outside-of-the-foot curler from outside the box to beat the goalkeeper and put Portugal ahead — both on the day, and in the table. As things currently stand, Portugal would win the group and Spain would finish second.

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 4

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In the fourth episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England players have been preparing for their next match in an unusual way, Argentina has a huge meltdown, and more.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

Click play on the video above to watch the fourth episode in full.

Atlanta leads way with six All-Star Fan XI selections

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It may be hard to believe with all the World Cup festivities going on, but the Major League Soccer season is nearly halfway over.

[ MORE: Toronto FC’s 2018 has been far from their cup-winning 2017 ]

And that means it’s almost All-Star time.

The MLS All-Stars will continue their recent tradition of facing a European superpower in August, with Juventus being welcomed to the United States in early August.

But, which players from MLS will we see in action?

Last season’s expansion sweetheart Atlanta United leads the way in the fan voting with six players from the Eastern Conference side voted into the Fan XI, including attackers Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco, Darlington Nagbe and Josef Martinez.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender/captain Michael Parkhurst also made the team from Atlanta.

In all, only five clubs were represented based on the Fan XI, with the LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela and Laurent Ciman, Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi and Portland Timbers star Diego Valeri each rounding out the squad.


Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United)

Defenders: Michael Parkhurst (Atlanta United), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles Football Club), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United), Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)

Forwards: Josef Martínez (Atlanta United), Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Football Club – EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge)

Saudi Arabia steals late win over Egypt in Group A finale

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Saudi Arabia pulled off a late 2-1 win against Egypt on Monday in their Group A finale, as the two nations ended their 2018 World Cup run in the group stage.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Salem Al Sawsari scored in the fifth minute of second half stoppage time to give the Saudis a late winner in the match, as the attacker struck the post in the dying moments before the ball crossed the line.

The Pharaohs took the lead in the 22nd minute, after a tremendous run from Mohamed Salah and lob over the Saudi Arabia goalkeeper.

Salah has two goals at the World Cup for Egypt, who were already eliminated heading into Monday’s match.

Saudi Arabia was granted a chance to equalize prior to halftime, however, goalkeeper Essam El Hadary brilliantly stopped Hattan Bahebri’s penalty kick in the 41st minute to preserve the Egypt advantage.

El Hadary became the oldest player in World Cup history to appear in a match at the age of 45.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

The Egypt keeper wasn’t as lucky the second time around though, with Salmon Al Faraj converting a penalty kick in the 51st minute.

Saudi Arabia finishes group play in third place on three points, while Egypt goes winless in its three matches.