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Three good questions for: Sporting Kansas City center back Matt Besler

Jan 29, 2013, 9:45 AM EDT

Besler head shot

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.”

  1. bobinkc - Jan 29, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    It will be interesting to see how well Matt performs at the center back slot. In Kansas City in the games that Collen was forced to sit out, Matt seemed to be totally lost without his fearless leader to guide him. It must be difficult to step into someone else’s shoes for a game, but I found myself disappointed in his performance when thrust into the limelight in the back line.

    That said, he should be okay and I hope the experience matures him to take over when necessary with SKC because there will be games again this season when he has to be “it” in the center.

    • pctrips - Jan 29, 2013 at 2:06 PM

      Wow, I couldn’t disagree with that more. When Besler was out with the appendectomy our backline struggled big time and his absence coincided with our midseason slump. When Collin was out (benched) toward the end of the season Olum stepped in and we didn’t lose any games during that stretch at all. Besler is without a doubt the leader of that back line, not Collin.

    • Steve Davis - Jan 29, 2013 at 2:15 PM

      Yeah, I agree with PC here. I thought Besler and Olum looked great together. I never saw a bit of dropoff with Collin out. Just me though. We all see the game differently.

  2. crossmlk - Jan 29, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    Steve, I’m with you and PC here. SKC has more bite and is better offensively with Collin but were steady with the Besler and Olum combination. Overall they are better with Besler and Collin because of Collin’s superior tackling ability but one of the reasons Collin can take chances tackling is because he knows he’s got Besler behind him to clean up any messes.

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