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Besler, Zusi, Feilhaber earn high marks for USMNT

30 January 12:02 pm

Besler, Zusi, Feilhaber earn high marks for USMNT

By Jonathon Feyerherm

Three Sporting Kansas City players featured for the United States in a 0-0 draw with Canada last night. Matt Besler earned his first international cap, Benny Feilhaber impressed as a second-half sub and Graham Zusi continues to be a solid player in the midfield. Below are some of the reviews across the web for all three Sporting KC players.

Matt Besler

Brian Sciaretta, NY Times Goal Blog

After winning the M.L.S Defender of the Year award in 2012, expectations were high for Besler in his first international appearance. He showed glimpses of potential against Canada but was not tested against a bunkering team. His passing out of the back was impressive, however, and that could be an asset for Klinsmann, who is looking to add central defenders in 2013. 

Steve Davis, Pro Soccer Talk

Besler, in fact, showed a little something. From minutes 30-45 he tried, at least, to go over the Canadian defensive bunching, and attempted to exploit the passing lanes. I asked Besler if that was on instruction from the bench? No, he told me … he just communicated with Kyle Beckerman, who encouraged the debuting U.S. man and promised to drop into covering position if Besler wanted to be more dynamic with his distribution.

Ridge Mahoney, Soccer America

Sure, Canada showed little in the attack other than De Ro, but Besler whacked a few balls out of danger areas, stepped into midfield when required, and always looked to play through the middle or out wide. This is probably sacrilege to some, but he’s faster than his central partner and just as good on the ball.

Jeff Carlisle, ESPN FC

Was rarely tested, which probably didn't reveal much about his ability to play at the international level, but he got the job done. 

Gret Seltzer, MLSSoccer.com

The debutant didn't have a great deal to do, but largely made light work of it.

Avi Creditor, Sports Illustrated

Like Gonzalez, Besler, the reigning MLS Defender of the Year, was under a microscope to see how he would perform. In his first cap, Besler was fine, but he wasn't tested much either. His confident second-half header to clear a free kick opportunity in the U.S. box was his greatest contribution. At the end of the day, Besler did not make any mistakes, and that's a fine takeaway for a player fighting to be in the U.S. center back discussion.

Benny Feilhaber

Brian Sciaretta, NY Times Goal Blog

With Canada bunkering, Feilhaber tried to break their defense down in the second half. While inconsistent, he did bring some much needed creativity to the game. 

Steve Davis, Pro Soccer Talk

Benny Feilhaber pushed the pace of an otherwise languid attack. He has enough technical ability to turn and create, even within the constricted space.

Ridge Mahoney, Soccer America

Hit at least two excellent set plays and used the ball well.

Jeff Carlisle, ESPN FC

Was everything Davis was supposed to be; tidy on the ball, and dangerous from set pieces. That said, his decision to play the final U.S. free-kick square amounted to a wasted opportunity. 

Greg Seltzer, MLSSoccer.com

A lot of good things happen when Feilhaber steps on the field.

Avi Creditor, Sports Illustrated

Feilhaber delivered the most incisive passes of the night, sparking the attack when he entered the game as a halftime substitute in the middle of Klinsmann's reworked 4-3-3 formation. If anything, Feilhaber showed what he displayed during the last World Cup qualifying cycle and even in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa: He has what it takes to be an impact attacking player off the bench. His late set pieces left plenty to be desired, though, with two 20-yard looks from an identical spot failing to lead to any danger whatsoever. Even so, Feilhaber was one of the few players to help himself, even if it was just marginally.

Graham Zusi

Greg Seltzer, MLSSoccer.com

The Sporting KC attacker was solid in the first half, providing much of the team's early invention.

Brian Sciaretta, NY Times Goal Blog

He will probably be on the U.S. team moving forward.