KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Matt Besler wanted to be there in Columbus, basking in the glow of yet another dos a cero victory against Mexico and celebrating the United States' clinching of a ticket to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup.
He had to watch from home, though, suspended for Tuesday night's match for caution accumulation after picking up a pillow-soft yellow card in Friday's 3-1 loss at Costa Rica.
“It sucked. I was upset about it,” Sporting Kansas City's star center back told reporters on Wednesday, after keeping media silence on Tuesday at the request of the U.S. Soccer Federation. “It's one thing to slide tackle somebody or take somebody down and you're sitting at home. I would still be disappointed that I didn't get the chance to play in that game, but the fact that you almost feel cheated, and you're sitting at home, it makes it way worse.
“It was tough not to think about. For the first 24 to 48 hours, I couldn't get it out of my mind. I was pretty upset about it.”
And when the US came home and sealed their World Cup berth against free-falling El Tri, those feelings came back again.
“Selfishly, it was tough to watch the end,” Besler said. “I didn't mind watching the game, because I was focused on the team, but once I realized that we were qualified and that I wasn't going to get the chance to celebrate, I was a little disappointed.”
Besler was given the fateful caution for an innocuous-looking bump of Ticos forward Joel Campbell, after Campbell dropped to the pitch and successfully sold the contact as card-worthy.
“I knew from the second that it happened that I didn't do anything,” Besler said. “For the next 15 seconds, when the ref was walking over, I kind of saw everything in slow motion. I knew he was going to make a bad decision.”
In the larger scheme of things, though, Besler is happy with how his first nine months in a Yanks kit have gone – going from his debut in January to becoming one of Jurgen Klinsmann's mainstays on the backline.
“When you look back on it, it's one thing that's happened,” he said. “Over this last year, I've had a lot of great opportunities, and a lot of blessings, too, so I can't be too upset about it.”
Besler hopes his next US opportunity will be wearing the national team's colors in Sporting Park for the first time, when the Americans host Jamaica in their next Hexagonal match on Oct. 11.
“For me, I'm hoping I get a chance to play so that we can get more experience, get more rhythm with the guys,” he said. “But I could totally see [Klinsmann] doing something else, too. I think he knows that it's important to me to hopefully get a chance at playing in front of the home fans – but again, it's all a factor of the situation at the time.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.