As the quiet half of Sporting Kansas City's star center back tandem, Matt Besler heard a lot of talk about how he was getting overlooked for individual honors.
Besler never put much stock in that talk – and his selection as 2012 MLS Defender of the Year proved him right.
“I feel like a lot of people have told me that I get overlooked sometimes, but I'm not worried about that,” Besler told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Tuesday. “I'll do whatever works. And I think what works in this league right now is being steady and being consistent, and in doing your job. If that goes unnoticed, then I can't change that and I don't really care about it. But obviously, it doesn't really go unnoticed, because we're talking about this award because of that steady play.”
Besler was the cornerstone of the league's stingiest defense, which gave up just 27 goals in the regular season as Sporting repeated their first-place finish in the Eastern Conference. He's proudest of that team success, but also proud of his role in it.
“I think the consistency is probably what I'm most proud of,” he said. “I think MLS is a tough league to defend, and I think our team and I think me, individually, I showed it almost every game.”
That consistency could pay dividends well beyond the Defender of the Year award. Besler's contract with Sporting is up this year, and – with Gold Cup play and World Cup qualifying both on the schedule for 2013 – he appears poised to earn his first cap with the US men's national team.
While he's mum on the former issue, preferring to “keep things private” on the contract front, Besler has made no secret of his desire to play for his country.
“We'll see what happens,” said Besler, who was in the 18 but did not play when the US beat Mexico 1-0 earlier this year at Estadio Azteca. “I'm excited to get a chance, hopefully, and I'm excited to see what I can do with that chance. I'm confident that if I do get a chance, I can make the best of it. I'm preparing like any other season, but I definitely hope that I can be in the mix this year to play some national team games.”
Besler's teammate in central defense, Aurélien Collin, finished third in the Defender of the Year balloting.
“That just says how good of a year we had as a team,” Besler said. “I remember in preseason, the first thing we talked about as a team was team defending, and I think we showed it the entire season, with only allowing the 27 goals. So to have Collin in there with me, he deserved it just as much as I did. I think it's a very, very big honor for the club to have two guys.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.