LONDON — 10 days after his 2014 Major League Soccer season ended with Sporting Kansas City, Matt Besler is in England training at Fulham’s Motspur Park with the U.S. national team.
When speaking to ProSoccerTalk on Monday, Besler was understandably disappointed that the reigning MLS Cup champions got knocked out of the playoffs in the knockout round to the New York Red Bulls and were unable to defend their crown.
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Under the floodlights on a chilly evening in south west London, Besler summed up his emotions after Sporting’s exit from the playoffs.
“We are all disappointed that we are not still playing,” Besler said. “It is certainly the expectation that we have as a team now. So any time we don’t win a championship we are disappointed. I think there’s a lot to be proud of, I know that the guys left everything they had on the field. We had a lot of obstacles this year that we weren’t quite able to overcome. That’s how it goes. You have to learn, move on and come back stronger for next season.”
After a stuttering second half to the MLS season for Peter Vermes’ men (losing seven of their final 10 matches) they stumbled into the postseason and looked jaded as many pointed to both Besler and Graham Zusi — two of Sporting’s most influential players — having no rest after the USA’s World Cup campaign in Brazil.
Besler admitted that he wasn’t in his best physical condition after a grueling World Cup campaign then returning to play out the rest of the season in MLS, but insisted that he didn’t want to use it as an excuse for failing to advance past the first round of the playoffs.
“Physically it was tough… it was tough. I’ve been asked that question [of his fitness] a lot,” Besler said. “I feel like when I say that I’m being truthful but it comes out as an excuse. I don’t want it to come out that way. It is every players dream to be playing in World Cups and then coming back to your club team. I will say that the pre-World Cup camp was the toughest camp of my entire life. We were doing three-a-days for a month up until the World Cup.”
It is well known that following his stellar performances in the World Cup for the USA, Besler had plenty of options to move to England but chose to remain at Sporting and sign a new long-term deal for his hometown club alongside his good friend and teammate Zusi. Just because he didn’t sign for Fulham, or a number of other English teams, that doesn’t mean the KC native is not enjoying his time in England’s capital.
“Today was great, being on the training ground. It’s a first-class facility,” Besler said. “I’m just excited to be over here and experience the culture of all the football matches going on. The second you walk around town you can feel the energy they have and their passion for football.”
ProSoccerTalk will be with the USA in London all week ahead of their game against Colombia at Craven Cottage on Friday. Stay in touch with the latest news, here.