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Matt Besler red carded as Sporting KC, Red Bulls draw in season opener

Matt Besler vs. New York

Matt Besler vs. New York

Photo by John Rieger/USA TODAY Sports Images


KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Matt Besler was on the field long enough to see Sporting Kansas City take a 1-0 lead and the New York Red Bulls equalize shortly thereafter. Besler was not on the pitch, however, when the whistle blew on a 1-1 draw between former Eastern Conference foes.

Besler was shown a second yellow card in the 71st minute, prompting Sporting Kansas City (0-0-1) to play down a man for the final 20 minutes of Sunday’s contest between the New York Red Bulls (0-0-1).

The home team survived the initial onslaught from the Red Bulls and even pushed forward for two prime chances in front of goal, but Dom Dwyer could not connect on either of the two balls played his way late.

“When you’re playing your first game of the season, very rarely is everyone 90 minutes fit, let alone able to play with 10 men for 20-plus minutes,” Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said after the match. “It showed a lot of determination and courage from the guys to be able to fight the way that they did.

“They were really disciplined defensively, but then they pick and chose some really good moments (to push forward). We could have stolen the game there at the end. There were some good opportunities, Dom had two of them. But, in the end, a tie was probably a fair result.”

Ike Opara and Lloyd Sam scored the lone goals for their respective teams in quick succession. Opara smashed home a header in the 50th minute. Sam curled in a magnificent right-footed shot four minutes later to round out the night’s scoring.

Sporting KC started the game strong, pestering the Red Bulls in the midfield while pushing up the flanks, and it nearly lead to a goal less than 10 minutes into the game. Zusi played a short-corner ball to Sinovic just outside of the box, but his shot scurried across the face of goal and out of play.

The home team had two more cracks at a first-half goal, each involving first-year player Krisztian Nemeth. The first, 21 minutes into the game, was a beeline shot from 22 yards out that soared just inches above the crossbar. The latter came seven minutes later on a free-kick cross from Zusi that Nemeth headed above goal.

The Red Bulls finally settled down as the half-hour mark crossed on the scoreboard. The Red Bulls caught Sporting KC on the counter two or three times in the first half, including a 38th-minute counter that led to a one-on-one attempt with goalkeeper Luis Marin.

However, Sporting KC broke through first in the 50th minute when Feilhaber spotted Opara unmarked at the near post. Feilhaber took a touch near the end line, struck a perfect cross and Opara thumped a header into the back of the net to spark a roar from the home supporters.

The Red Bulls responded four minutes later on a gorgeous goal of its own by Sam. Sporting KC granted the midfielder too much space and he made them pay with a beautiful curling effort that Marin could not get a hand on.

“There’s always something we can do better,” Sinovic said. “Not to take anything away (from Sam), it was a great goal and a great finish. But I’m sure when we look back at the tape, I’m sure there’s something we can do better.”

After Besler’s ejection in the 71st minute, The Red Bulls looked primed for a go-ahead goal, but it was actually Sporting KC which had better chances in the final 20 minutes. Dwyer was denied twice in front of the visitor’s goal before the whistle blew as the two sides took home a single point in the season opener.

Sporting KC will return to action next Saturday on the road against FC Dallas. The Red Bulls have a week off before returning to action with their home opener on March 22 against D.C. United.


  1. My optimistic side tells me that RBNY’s high-pressure style will work better on a pitch that doesn’t slow the ball (and the players) down so much). But no pitch can make up for defensive sloppiness. As Zubar and Perinelle (or whoever) go this year, so go the Red Bulls.

  2. The real King was Robles in goal for RB The pros if I am honest was intense hi pressure during parts of the game RB actually looked OK. The Cons horrid D Had more holes than Swiss cheese. Perinelle was never chosen by Sir Mike for a reason( Marsh) Dubar was OK and Miller looked weak Sasha had a few ( v few) strong moments but a lot of so -so passes and giving the ball away and so far I have no idea what all the fuss is about Felipe.? Can’t really take a free kick or corner exc 1 real beauty. RB had their counter attacks thanks to Sam and Dax and BWP ran hard but was given v little KC should have scored 2 or 3 if not for Robles and poor Dwyer hustles all game but thankfully left his shooting kleets behind

  3. Red Bull played with more energy and less predictability than in the recent past, but it remains to be seen if thats a good thing or not. The defense was serviceable as per usual. A point on the road at KC is a fine outcome. The end result, however, was yet another in a long line of games, the last of which was their last game last year, where Red Bull could not score the needed extra goal despite a wealth of opportunity and the better run of play. Meet the new King, same as the old King?

  4. I was wondering what all the Besler hate was about, then Old School’s post reminded me that JK had an issue with Besler’s fitness levels in the middle of the offseason. I forgot that for the JK fanboys, any dispute with JK is a reason to hate on a player indefinitely.

    • I would attribute it more to the fact that this is a guy who was supposed to be exceptional, and has shown greatness for stretches in the past, but lately he seems to be making more and more mistakes and dumb plays. As a USMNT fan Besler is starting to look like he is not the answer which has been a repeating pattern for USMNT CB prospects.

  5. I guess Besler should have clarified his actual goal of reaching peak fitness was March 21st and not March 1st as previously stated.

  6. He should have played the advantage on Besler’s second yellow – and then given the second yellow. RBNY had a great break-out going.

  7. Toledo’s card management is typically terrible, he did his best to ruin a competitive match. If you are looking to improve the overall quality of officials, don’t bring consistently bad ones back.

  8. About what I expected from RBNY – good possession, some decent chances, and utter confusion in central defense. Perinelle will either get better or get benched (or released). Miazga still makes some junior-level mistakes. A bonus: I loved Freidel’s commentary.

    What was up with the field? What a mess. Very amateurish.

    • Nice shout out to Friedel. He was good – didn’t try to say to much unlike other commentators.

      Field was as crappy as the play. NYRB lucky to escape with a point courtesy of Dwyers lack of finishing.

    • I also thought Friedel was good. Players from both sides were falling constantly, the field was really in terrible shape. Perinelle was pretty bad in his limited time last season. Somehow, he’s fallen into a starting spot but we’ll see how long it lasts. Miazga’s performance yesterday didn’t really help his cause though.

    • I think a lot of the problem with the pitch had to do with it being below freezing for most of the last month in KC and then two days of 70 degree weather. Everything thawed underneath and all the water came up to the surface. Although it seemed that SKC had way more problems with the footing that NYRB.

    • He was there when it was the best back line in the league, wouldn’t really being saving anything regardless.

      Opara has looked good basically the whole time he has been healthy in KC, and was probably more consistent than Besler or Collin with his play for his minutes.

      Besler’s red means the most talented player on the roster has to start.

    • Yeah, that would be nice but now there are actual games and a season going on so I’d rather support my team. Pretty good performance tonight and a decent result.


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