HOUSTON – “Sporting Kansas City center back Matt Besler” may soon be known as “Sporting Kansas City and U.S. international center back Matt Besler.”
Besler has a good chance of lining up next to Omar Gonzalez in the middle of the U.S. defense tonight against Canada, which would represent a first U.S. cap for the 25-year-old hometown hero around Kansas City.
A good night at BBVA could certainly elevate his chances of landing a Gold Cup spot this summer and … well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Frankly, it should be a relatively smooth night, seeing as Canada’s program is in the dumps for the time being, desperate to build its way out. The U.S. is better, playing on home soil and better rested; Canada fell to Denmark three nights ago, 4-0.
Even if there isn’t too terribly much to deal with in Houston tonight, it’s been a good camp for Besler, with good reports from staff on his sessions over the last three weeks.
You got a few sessions under Jurgen Klinsmann last year just before a match with Mexico, but this was your first extended camp. Did anything surprise you?
To be honest, not really. I got called into little taste of it [before], so this was my first extended look. I talked to [Sporting KC teammate] Graham Zusi a lot about this camp, about what to expect, so I came in pretty prepared. … I asked him about the fitness drills we would be doing, what fitness drills Jurgen likes to run, that all just made me more comfortable.”
There must have been a tricky balance. You want to be the “new” guy, but it’s a center back’s job to direct the back line and midfielders. How did you approach that balance?
I wanted to come in and make my name and make my mark, but at the same time, I wanted to do it within the team, you know? You don’t want to be the guy who comes in and is totally an individual and yelling at his teammates all the time. There is definitely a time and place for that, especially as center back where you need to direct somebody or tell someone to do something. I think I’ve had a good mix of that, being the new guy and earning my way, but also trying to be a leader.”
How important was it for everyone in camp to have this match as a “carrot” at the end of long stick of fitness prep?
It’s huge. We’ve been battling against each other for 21 straights day and we get to play someone else now, so we’re all looking forward to it.”