KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The US national team window appears closed for now. His partner in the center of defense for Sporting Kansas City is getting the goals and the publicity.
So it looks as though Matt Besler is going to have to content himself with being back in All-Star form, regarded as one of MLS’ emerging center backs and the anchor of the league’s stingiest defense.
He’s fine with that.
“It’s not that big of a deal for me, so long as we’re winning games and as long as our defense is playing well,” Besler told MLSsoccer.com earlier this week. “I told you at the beginning of the year, I want to have the best defense in the league. I want to give up the fewest goals in the league. Right now, that’s where we’re at and we’ve got to keep it going.”
Besler has been the more durable of Kansas City’s center-back tandem, playing every minute during a 7-1-0 start which has seen KC post a league-best .375 goals-against average. (Seattle have also given up three goals, but over a seven-match span).
He also has just one caution over that span, while backline partner Aurélien Collin has three.
But while Collin has been more prone to taking knocks and seeing yellow, he also has three goals – tied for second on the team – and is becoming a YouTube star thanks to both his play and his tongue-in-cheek “Collin’s Corner” videos.
Besler doesn’t begrudge Collin the attention, though.
“I’m not too worried about who’s getting more credit or not,” he said. “He obviously deserves a lot of it. He’s been playing incredible so far.”
If there’s anyone who understands Besler’s outlook, it’s manager Peter Vermes.
“I wasn’t a limelight guy myself,” said Vermes, who centered the backline when the then-Wizards won MLS Cup in 2000. “You go out, you do your job and you do it every day. As long as you continue to do your job well, and your coach understands what your impact is, I don’t think you worry too much about press because you’re not a limelight guy anyway.
“He definitely has an impact on this team, and it’s not just on the field anymore,” Vermes added. “I think he’s become a quiet leader within this group as well.”
There is someone from whom Besler would love some attention, though: US coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who soon will begin assembling his World Cup qualifying squad.
“I think I’m making the case, but it’s not in my control,” Besler said. “I’m just going out and trying to play every game the best I can, trying to put together a really good season. If I do that, I’m going to be happy with my performance, whether or not I get a look. But if you’re asking me? Yeah, I hope I do.”
He doesn’t expect that shot to come this year, however.
“I don’t think that’s really realistic,” he said. “I think he’s going to bring in guys that have a little bit of experience and have been in the camp, but you never know.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.