It’s unfortunate when a player is better known for having a brother than for having his own quite proficient skillset, but here we are with Nick Besler.
I’m sure the first thing people think with Besler is about his long-throwing brother over in Kansas City, Matt Besler, but Nick is his own player, and he has his own MLS contract.
See, that’s one thing we couldn’t say at the beginning of the year. We couldn’t say that Nick Besler was an MLS player. A year ago, we might have been able to — he’d been a Portland Timbers player for two years, but he never made a first-team appearance for them.
And so it went that he ended up joining Real Monarchs at the beginning of this season. That, to me, felt like a bit of a coup. Besler had been regarded as a player with genuine MLS talent. That’s why he was picked fifth in the 2015 MLS Draft — because he was regarded highly. For some reason, that never really translated in Portland, though one could readily make the argument that few players come out of college ready to make an impact in MLS. The list is sparse.
At Real Monarchs, where Besler was given the captain’s armband, he played in 31 games, making 31 starts. That’s a real feat for a team with a 32-game season. He finished the USL season with 84 percent passing success and an average of 49 passes per game. That’s definitely good for a USL player, and it was clearly good enough to get him a spot on the main roster.
But there’s a big question remaining: Can Besler make the next step? The RSL staff obviously thinks so, giving him an MLS contract in late August. But he’ll need to show that he can perform as a backup to Kyle Beckerman, and he’ll need to show that he can start making himself a player picked for the bench. I think he can get there, but it is a step up, and he does have something to prove.
It should make for a fun 2018.