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Besler boosts national team stock, delivers another solid outing vs. top opponent

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WASHINGTON – If Matt Besler’s stock had been rising in recent months due to his performances with the U.S. Men’s National Team, it likely reached a whole other level after their 4-3 win over Germany on Sunday.

Besler delivered another solid performance in a U.S. uniform on Sunday, helping the Americans limit Germany’s talented attack for much of the U.S. Soccer centennial celebration match played in sweltering conditions at RFK Stadium. Besler was solid for the most part in what was just his fourth cap and his strong defensive performance next to fellow centerback Omar Gonzalez allowed for the U.S. to jump out to a 4-1 lead before Germany’s late barrage made things close again.

After the match, Klinsmann wasn’t ready to say he had Besler penciled in for a start in Friday’s World Cup qualifier in Jamaica, where the Americans suffered a 2-1 loss last year. But Klinsmann was full of compliments for the Sporting Kansas City defender that continues to impress at the international level.

“For us, it’s really important just to have those games,” said Klinsmann. “To see them in our environment, and not only the club environment to make our judgements, to say ‘Okay, who we definitely have in the back line in Kingston on Friday night.’ Based on his game in Mexico City, Matt Besler deserved that opportunity today and he used it well.

“There’s a lot of competition going on and obviously we have Clarence Goodson with a lot of experience, especially in these CONCACAF games, and we have Geoff Cameron being hungry as ever, playing wherever we need him. But you see that there are some players maturing. … Matt Besler is just playing like he was here already last five, six years.”

For the third time this year, Besler again proved a formidable partner next to Gonzalez. The two centerbacks seemed to be on the same page more often than not, snuffing out several German attacks much in the same way that they did when they started together in the U.S.’s scoreless draw with Mexico at Estadio Azteca in World Cup qualifying in March.

Their performance together was surely a refreshing sight for Klinsmann after the Americans’ defensively-frail outing in a 4-2 defeat to Belgium this past Wednesday and one that further made the case that Besler and Gonzalez are the two U.S. centerbacks who complement each other the best.

“We’re just different players,” said Besler. “Some of his strengths are my weaknesses and some of my strengths are his weaknesses. I’m not going to get into the specific stuff but I think we complement each other well. The key is just backing each other up. They can get by one of us, but they can’t get by both of us, so we’re always covering for each other and that’s kind of what it starts with.”

Besler may have had another fine outing, but he was far from perfect. On one play early in the first half, Andre Schurrle megged left back DaMarcus Beasley before blowing by Besler. Schurrle then got a good look on goal but pushed his shot wide of the far post.

That play and Germans’ late attempt at a rally left Besler knowing that there are improvements to be made, especially if he is to earn another start when the U.S. face Jamaica at Independence Park on Friday.

“I’ll have to look at the tape but off the top of my head, we can step out a little bit more,” said Besler. “We can be a little bit quicker with how we step out and get pressure to the ball.”


  1. The present crop of US backs have shown themselves prone to mental lapses. (Evans in his one game did not make glaring mistakes.) On top opf that, when they are pressured they have a great deal of difficulty playing out of the back and mostly just whack the ball away. Germany’s low pressure in the first half largely saved the US defense, still the US did give up 3 good chances that could have had the game 3-2 Germany at halftime. When Germany did begin pressuring things looked worse for the US, especially so when Castillo came in. I expect the Concacaf opponents to have noticed this and am pretty sure that the US back 4 will not be given the kind of time and space Germany gifted them in the upcoming qualifiers. It will be interesting to see how the US responds.

  2. I disagree… I though Besler and Gonzo played below average. Evans and Castillo didn’t show much as well… If it weren’t for our midfield trying to keep position and attacking Germany, I believe Germany would have scored at least 6 goals. Our offense was our defense in this game. All four in the back were awful. Beasley was a little off and Castillo didn’t help much other than keep position on a few occasions. Cameron and Boca as our CB’s imo. That’s the best we have for now.. Gooch and Gonzo on the bench and we are good to go.

    • While not totally impressed with the Defense yesterday I’d much rather have the players we currently are using at CB than the majority of those you called for. While Boca reads the game well his is much too slow to be a Starting CB in a high press formation. His lack of speed would kill us. Gooch is a shadow of his former self….and until he can get regular games with a club should no longer be in discussion.
      Besler, Cameron, and Gonzalez are the present and likely future at CB for the USNT. They need time to gain experience and learn to play together, but the raw potential & talent is there. What we desperately need is an additionial 2-3 CB’s to help cover in case of injury (replacements for Goodson, Gooch, Boca), and pressure Besler, Cameron, & Gonzo to continue to improve.

  3. Howard had his worse game in a while yesterday. Failed to hold onto countless catchable balls, including goal # 3. Goal # 2 also saveable.

  4. ————————Howard

    Evans———-Cameron—-Besler———Beasley (especially against Jamaica)




  5. they missed two easy open shots in the beginning. defensive laps. could have been a blow out again.

    not sure who to start at this point. but of course its jamaica and not germany we are going up against in the hex.

    • Howard had the post covered if you are talking about Mertesacker’s miss (after what should have been a foul called when he threw down Beasley).

  6. Besler and Gonsalez have played three games together and don’t have a lot of caps. So it is a work in progress. Besler is a lefty and Goodson, gonsalez and cameron are better on the right. gonsalez is usally dominant in the air but who are better in the air than the Germans. I think that we go forward with Besler and Gonsalez or maybe Besler and Cameron. It is a crap shoot either way because we don’t have a lot of data points but either combination would be better at this point than Boca, Gooch or Goodson IMHO

  7. Bessler just ok. Omar Gonz the worst player on the pitch for the second game in a row to slow and just not good enough

  8. The long and the short of this article is: WTF?

    There are some people you could write a puff piece about after today, but Besler wouldn’t have been in my top 6.

    • My reaction exactly. Where did this come from? Frankly, Brad Evans was a better storyline than Besler today, and that still would have been a forgettable article.

  9. As far as the overall back 4, I was hoping Castillo could make a case for time because DMB is burning down the wing like he was 21 again…and we could use that speed in attack… but unfortunately he still gets knocked over when the wind blows, and in CONCACAF we can never assume he’s gonna get those calls, just like that play in the box that wasn’t blown. But Castillo looked lost. Just hope Fabian is healthy and Beas keeps his feet,cause it looks like he’s our LB for the near future
    Who knows what JK will do with the other 3 positions…I don’t think anyone knows

  10. Thought Besler was definitely better than Gonzo today, and being only his fourth cap he has a lot of upside.

    Nothing wrong with constructive criticism from supporters either. But I promptly ignore the supporters who only complain, complain, complain.

    Besler will not see an offense like the one he faced today in CONCACAF barring Mexico.

    Really impressed with how well he has transitioned into being an international caliber CB. He still has some on the job training to do, but I think he has all of the tools to be a very good CB during the rest of this WC cycle, and going into the next WC cycle. He had the job of marking Klose, and I thought he shut down Klose for the most part. He also had the majority of the marking against Chicharito in Mexico and Besler also pretty much shut him down as well.

    My jury is still out about Gonzo.

    • I would agree. While I don’ tthink he was as bad as some are making it out to be, I wouldn’t say his performance was news worthy.

      The defense was shakey at times but I think the last two goals and nervy finish had more to do with the substitutions taking them out of sync and made them less organized.

  11. The one thing that I took away from the game is something that I already knew. This game reinforced it.

    Clint Dempsey is our most dangerous and creative player, but Michael Bradley is simply the most important player we have had since Reyna’s heyday – Donovan included.

    His presence in midfield was astounding. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so calm.

    • Yeah, we can talk about Altidore, Besler, Evans or whoever, but the biggest difference-maker on the team is Bradley. His presence changes the whole team.

  12. I think the mental aspect is the foundation for the position. Games are decided on a handful of plays, you need to read the game at the highest level and maintain focus for 90 minutes. I think Besler is going to be our best option in that regard. I’d like to see him paired with Cameron.

  13. Jones is somewhat at fault on the second goal. He should have stepped to the ball instead of playing double amputee human shield. Tbf he was exhausted at that point. Don’t know why he played back to back 90’s.

    Third goal, Howard should have held onto or pushed to the side. The first was saveable as well. At least they have four days off to rest before Jamaica. Pray to God Juergann doesn’t run them to death in the mean time.

    • The Germans just showed some great movement pulling everyone in and creating confusion. Jones should have been further out and pressing but also its just a great strike from Kruse. I really don’t see how you can put to much blame on Gonzalez for that one tho.

  14. Goodson, Gonzelez, and Cameron all scare me. I really wish Opara had not struggled with injuries and Okugo was allowed some seasoning during friendlies. In not sutre if the preliminary 35 man Gold Cup Roster can be changed at this point, but I’d like to see Berry, Opara, and Okugo in that mix. Besler had been our steadiest defender the last 3 games. I hope he keeps if up.

    • By Opara you mean the guy who was struggling to stop U23s and singlehandedly dropped SS winner SJ out of the playoffs last year?

      • No I mean the guy I watched start 2 out of the last 3 matches 4 KC and he was probably their best defender.

      • My bad I thought you said struggling to start not stop. I don’t really blame the u-23 problems on him. Porters tactics were the real issue with u-23s. No midfield pressure on the ball with only 3 mids and pairing Opara with Kitchen was a bad idea. Kitchen is a better DMF when playing against better competition than a central defender.

  15. ^ USA actually beats Germany, a result no one expected, and yet you still manage to be negative about the performance! LOL.

    • Actually, I though it was the midfield right in front of Besler and Gonzalez that started to fade and gave the Germans so much time in front of the 18.

      Germany kept subbing players but the US kept the same central players for the whole game. About the 75th minute Bradley and Jones really got tired and just didn’t provide the cover needed for the CBs to be effective. You just can’t provide that kind of time at this level in the area above the 18 and expect not to be hurt.

      That said we need to put this game in perspective. Yes its a German B team but they are still very, very good. And nobody before this game expected the US to tie let alone win.

      After a shaky first 10 minutes the back four acquitted themselves very well.

      • please post more. this is right on.

        all of the ‘it’s his fault’ stuff is tiring to read here

      • @psu2dcu. Agree with most of what you are saying. I was happy with the performances of both Besler and Gonzo. These guys are new to the international game and both need games to develop. Both made some excellent defensive plays to stop goals. In my mind, they should be starters going forward and not be switched unless they prove otherwise or another CB at the club level impresses enough to be given a shot.

        As for Evans, yes, was impressed, but expectations were low. Let’s see how he does next time. Beasley was mostly solid again, but I still think he should be played at left wing. I do not understand all the hate on Castillo. He was as good defensively as Beasley (who also got burned a couple of times but fortunately no goal) and was rock solid offensively up the field, with crisp passing and desire to attack.

      • Really? Castillo got beaten badly in 1v1s. Beasley got beat up pretty badly, he’s what 130 pounds soaking wet and when he was in physical confrontations, he suffered. Beasley did not find himself out of position often and while he did not stop every 1v1 attack, he did stop most of them, something Castillo utterly failed to do.

    • Come on, it is legitimate to critique a defense when you could have won 4-1. Our offense improved by leaps and bounds, but our defense was shakey. Thank god for the performances of Evans (to whom I owe an apology!) and Beasley.

      I was happy with whatever Klinsmann did to revive the offense (ok, and for MB90). And I really can’t blame Klinsmann for his defensive lineup – I think they all just need exponentially more experience. [But please JK, never play Goodson and Gonzalez together again unless it is a snow game where passing on the ground is barely possible…]

    • I’m being realistic, not negative. I thought we played really well, but the CBs overall did not have a good game. Overall, I was extremely happy with the result, and we did a great job on the attacking side.

    • @Eric: I beg to differ. I expected it as my posts on pre-game articles will show. That said, I will admit I never thought we would boss them like we did through most of the game. Absolutely breath-taking, the attacking performance of the USMTN yesterday. Plus, I was wrong on goals. I only had Dempsey down for one goal and I had no faith in Jozy.

      • Really? Castillo got beaten badly in 1v1s. Beasley got beat up pretty badly, he’s what 130 pounds soaking wet and when he was in physical confrontations, he suffered. Beasley did not find himself out of position often and while he did not stop every 1v1 attack, he did stop most of them, something Castillo utterly failed to do.

    • In terms of the defense and their recent run of mental lapses. They were good for stretches, but the mistakes leading to goals, ball-watching etc. will often get absolutely punished as they did against Belgium. The thing today was that the Germans made many of their own defensive mistakes that we punished. If this game had been a 3-2 loss, you’d be hearing a lot about our defensive mistakes.

  16. I didn’t think Besler was anything special today, but Gonzalez stood out even more for the wrong reasons. He was beat on the first goal from the corner and was beat by Kruse on the second as well. The potential is there, but at this point he has proved numerous occasions in limited appearances that he is too much of a liability.

    What is strange about that is how everyone seemed ready to pencil Gonzalez in as an automatic starter after the Mexico game. Now I would say Besler is probably number one, and I would prefer to give Cameron another opportunity. I think Gonzalez could benefit from a season in Europe.

    • Cameron is an instinctive defender but not the smartest soccer player I’ve ever seen. Specifically I think he goes to sleep on backside runs.

      The CB should be open to all comers with the selection based on what they show. I think Goodson and Gonzo showed they’re not ready for prime time yet, although I fear one will start for the next three games because we didn’t really see or call much of anyone else.

  17. quite interesting seeing such a positive story about a defender when they gave up 3 goals and could have given up more than double that throughout including a couple very early on in the game…

    i guess our standards have fallen that low?

    • yes, this would be interesting. Cameron is a very well-rounded centerback. The only thing is – Klinsmann seems to want either Goodson or Gonzalez for heading abilities. Though Cameron is no slouch in the air as well.

      It is clear that three of these defenders need tons of experience before we can figure out what the ultimate pairing will be.

      • Gonzo with his height and toughness does well on the defensive end at least with the clearing headers (keep waiting for him to score at the other end), though he doesn’t seem to find our MF’s with them very often, even by occasional blind luck. He still needs to do a better job marking their target forwards consistently for 90 minutes, so i would rather have someone who isn’t going to lose track of their mark at key moments.

      • The header comment is oft repeated, however, Omar has been beaten twice in the air for goals this year. If Evans can handle the RB spot, short term, I would look at Cameron & Besler.

      • +1 It looks like several of us agree on this. So far, I’ve been very suprised at how often Klinsman see what we the fans see, and makes the adjustments. Bob Bradley never did that, he would stick bad players over and over. Even playing Ricardo Clark in a knockout game in the World Cup (dumb). Or playing Bornstein, ever for any reason.

      • Remember when Tim Ream was the next starter.. All he needed was Reps to get the experience.. Now I’m not comparing the two.. But yes I guess I am.

    • Yep, that’s the logical next step. Many of us would like to make Gonzalez the anchor of the defense, but maybe that needs to be someone else. Cameron-Besler would be interesting to see.

    • Totally agree. I think Cameron has become the “experienced” CB. We saw him have similar issues as Gonzo during the stretch of 5 games last June but his int’l experience plus his BPL experience have seen those mental lapses fade away. I also think he’s an all around better athlete than Gonzo, on top of his higher soccer IQ.

      I’m not saying Gonzalez won’t get there or that he doesn’t have obvious talent. But right now, Cameron is our guy.

    • agreed. let in 3 goals, i thought the center backs failed almost constantly… only castillo’s hilarious cameo kept Besler and Gonzalez from being the worst players on the field..
      evans. beasley, midfield + strikers though… lovely.

      • I must agree also. I was reading that article wondering if he was watching the same game as the rest of us. I thought the middle defense was weak today. Surprisingly, Evans and Beasley bailed the D out several times.

      • What??? Besler was very good. He by far outperformed Gonzo yesterday. I’m left wondering if Cameron and Besler are the best solution. I wish we had another friendly in which to try that combo.

      • seriously?? what game were YOU watching? beasley is awful and should retire. gonzo was not that great. has potential but not that great exept with headed balls. besler on the other hand was amazing and has tremendous upside. played a really great game, gonzo let him down and let the team down.

      • You must be a SKC fan. Besler was hardly amazing as was Gonzo. Beasley, playing out of position still had enough recovery speed. Evans (also playing out of position) was the best of the back 4 by far and covered in the middle for BOTH Besler and Gonzo. I do agree that Besler has a great upside but don’t sugar coat it that he “was amazing”….Simply NOT true!

    • Besler would have looked better if he wasn’t constantly having to make up for all of Gonzales’ mistakes. Franky, Besler is not the issue.

    • Agreed. I’d happily contribute to a “Get Brooks Capped Fund” where we donate $50 million to a charity of his choice.

      Gonzo needs to go someplace where he’s learn mentality. He turns off so many times a game, at this point, he’s a major liability. Like everyone else, I see his potential. But he’s been personally at fault for a goal the past couple outings. These pains should really come at the club level. Let’s hope he gets a move this summer.

      Unfortunately, beyond Brooks, I just don’t see any other CBs stepping up before Brazil.

    • Other than the one time in the first half where Matt was late in rotating, there were no real chances or goals that were his fault. I think Gonzalez just needs to not fade in and out. He’s physically imposing, but that’s really the only reason he’s had the chances at the team that he’s had IMO.


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