Matt Besler might be focused on the World Cup task at hand for the United States – in this case, getting past Belgium in Tuesday's Round of 16 match – but the Sporting Kansas City center back doesn't live in a bubble, either.
After his strong performances on the left side of central defense helped the Yanks get out of the “Group of Death,” Besler is aware that his name is getting run through the summer transfer window rumor mill on a regular basis. He's just trying not to pay attention to the talk.
“I think every player that plays on this stage is aware of potentially what could happen if you put together a good tournament,” Besler said on Monday, during a conference call with Kansas City media. “And so I want to just stay focused on that. At the same time, you're in touch with people back home, and I'm definitely aware of the situation with potentially other teams being interested.
“But right now, my main focus is on the team. I've been focused on just trying to advance this entire time, and that's not going to change until the World Cup is over.”
Sporting midfielder Graham Zusi has also seen his profile rise internationally, after assisting on John Brooks' match-winner in the United States' 2-1 opening win over Ghana and providing solid defensive work throughout the group stage. And while he – like Besler – is focused on going further into the knockout stage, Zusi said he also is taking some time to soak in the whole experience.
“I've made it a point to enjoy the moment as much as possible,” Zusi said. “It's sometimes tough to do when you're so focused on the task, but I've made it a point to enjoy it as well. We've done well for ourselves. We've succeeded in our first goal of getting out of the group. Now we have a goal of going as deep into this tournament as possible.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.