The transition from a local high school athlete to professional stardom continues for Matt Besler.

The hometown kid is now the hometown captain.

Sporting Kansas City announced Tuesday that Besler will wear the captain’s armband for the 2014 season, which opens Saturday with a trip to Seattle. He succeeds goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, who retired in December after the club hoisted the MLS Cup trophy.

“It’s a huge honor,” said Besler, who starred at Blue Valley West. “I’m grateful and I’m excited. I’ll do my best to represent my team well.”

Besler was announced to his new role in front of a crowd of about 2,000 people at the Sporting Takeoff celebration inside the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport. The event also included the unveiling of new secondary jerseys, which feature horizontal stripes across the chest.

Besler emerged onto the makeshift stage Tuesday after walking through a human-made tunnel formed by his teammates.

That was their sign of approval.

The coach offered his approval with words.

“I’ve been very tough on him over the years, but there’s not a guy more committed to this team,” coach Peter Vermes said. “It’s not just because he’s from Kansas City. He truly personifies the quality of team first. ... There’s a lot of guys within the team that all have their good qualities, but he’s the right guy to take this group into the next phase.”

Drafted by the Sporting KC franchise in 2009, Besler has grown into one of the league’s most reliable defenders and a regular member of the United States men’s national team. He was the MLS defender of the year in 2012.