KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Overland Park's own Matt Besler won a huge honor Tuesday for his performance on the field with Sporting KC this season.
Major League Soccer named Besler the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year. The Blue Valley West graduate led a Sporting KC defense that allowed 27 goals in 34 MLS matches to lead all MLS teams with the fewest goals allowed.
"I am very humbled, yet ecstatic, to be honored as MLS Defender of the Year," Besler said. "To be a part of such a great team and backline, you could make an argument for any of the back four for Sporting Kansas City. All year long our theme has been defending as a team from the forwards on back. I want to thank all of my teammates, the coaching staff and my family for their support and sacrifice. I am a player who sets team goals as well as personal goals and the number one priority is always to win MLS Cup. This award will continue to drive and push me to help bring the Cup back to my hometown."
Besler started 30 of his 31 appearances. He was part of a defense that held opponents to the fewest shots and shots on goal. The 25-year-old was also named Sporting's Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season.
The Overland Park native also had two game-winning assists this season. Sporting KC went 17-5-8 with a 0.72 goals against average with Besler in the starting lineup.
"Besler is a very steady player, which you need at his position," Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said. "Even though some might think he was a bit under-the-radar, he is consistent, a solid defender, very technical and possesses an excellent soccer brain. His top-notch work ethic and determination has seen him get better every year."