US national team, World Cup player profile: Matt Besler

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What a year it has been for Besler. First he emerged as one of the USA’s heroes vs. Mexico away in a pivotal World Cup qualifying draw, then he won MLS Cup with his hometown team Sporting Kansas City. This season he was named SKC’s captain and now he is heading to the World Cup as the lynchpin of the USA’s defense.

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He has to be pinching himself but his meteoric rise is thanks to stunning displays of power, pace, the ability to read the ball and his knack of perfect positioning. He has a deceptive pace about him which compliments his center back partners well. A key man for the USMNT in Brazil this summer, no doubt.

Full name: Matt Besler

Age: 27

Hometown: Overland Park, Kansas

Position: Central defender

Caps/goals: 15 caps, 0 goals

Club: Sporting Kansas City

Best moment in a U.S. shirt: One display sticks out like a sore thumb. Besler and his central defensive partner Omar Gonzalez both had just a few caps to their name when the USA traveled to the Estadio Azteca to play Mexico in a crucial World Cup qualifier. They were both thrown in at the deep end at center back and they excelled. Besler blocked every single ball that came his way and put his body on the line for the cause. He managed to keep Javier Hernandez quite and the U.S. took home a valuable 0-0 draw en-route to qualifying for Brazil 2014. That game was when you knew Besler would be a mainstay for the U.S. national team.

Starter or squad player at World Cup? One man knows they will definitely be starting every game at the heart of the USA’s defense this summer. That’s Besler. His superb displays as a no-nonsense center back who can also play from the back means he is the main man in defense for Jurgen Klinsmann. He has a tremendous spring, a great turn of pace and leads by example. Heading to his first-ever World Cup with just 15 caps to his name, if Besler plays to his potential then he could well be the USA’s star man.