Sporting Kansas City's team captain for the 2014 season, Matt Besler was named to the U.S. Men's National Team's final roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup alongside teammate Graham Zusi. The 27-year-old centerback is the first player from the state of Kansas to play in the FIFA World Cup. He made his tournament debut on June 16 as the United States beat Ghana 2-1, becoming the second player to start a World Cup match for the U.S. while playing club soccer in Kansas City. Six days later, Besler played the full 90 minutes and led all players with 12 clearances and five interceptions as the U.S. battled Portugal to a 2-2 draw. He also played the entirety of a 1-0 loss to Germany on June 26 as the U.S. advanced to the World Cup knockout stage as Group G runners-up. Besler played all 120 minutes of a 2-1 extra time defeat to Belgium as the Americans bowed out in the Round of 16.
Besler kicked off the year being named 2014 KC Sportsman of the Year by the Kansas City Sports Commission. The 2012 MLS Defender of the Year, MLSSoccer.com Breakout Player of the Year and Best XI selection, Besler has appeared in more than 150 MLS matches since being drafted in the first round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft out of Notre Dame. An Overland Park, Kan. native, Besler was voted an MLS All-Star in 2011, 2013 and 2014 and debuted for the U.S. Men’s National Team in 2013. He signed a long-term Designated Player contract with Sporting KC in July 2014.
2014: MLS regular season: Appeared in 24 matches, all starts, and contributed to seven shutouts. Was named to MLS Team of the Week (Week 9) after a 2-0 win over Columbus on May 4. Earned MLS Team of the Week honors (Week 18) after assisting Dom Dwyer's goal in a 2-1 win over Montreal on July 12, his first match for the club since returning from the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Was voted to the MLS Fan XI on July 16, earning MLS All-Star honors for the third time in his career. Received the first red card of his 148-game MLS career on July 26 in a 2-1 win at Toronto. Started and played 45 minutes in the MLS All-Star Game on Aug. 6 as the MLS All-Stars defeated Bayern Munich 2-1 in Portland. Earned MLS Team of the Week honors (Week 30) after a 0-0 draw at D.C. United on Oct. 3 in which he had eight interceptions and nine clearances. MLS Playoffs: Played 90 minutes in a 2-1 loss at New York in the Eastern Conference Knockout Round (Oct. 30). CCL: Played 90 minutes in both 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal legs vs. Cruz Azul, contributing to a shutout in the first leg on March 12. Started three matches (270 minutes) in the 2014-15 group stage, contributing to one shutout. Open Cup: Did not feature. Friendly: Played 45 minutes in a 4-1 Champions Shield defeat to Manchester City on July 23 at Sporting Park.
2013: Voted Sporting KC's Defensive Player of the Year and named MLS Best XI. MLS: Besler has appeared in 23 regular season matches for Sporting KC. Besler anchored a defense that earned 13 shutouts in 2013. Besler earned his first assist of the season against the Portland Timbers on April 27 and his second against the Philadelphia Union on October 26. PLAYOFFS: Started and played full time in all five playoff matches including the MLS Cup Final. CCL: Besler started two of the team's four CONCACAF Champions League group stage matches: 1-1 draw vs. Real Esteli on September 17 and a 0-0 draw vs. CD Olimpia on October 23.
2012: Named Sporting Kansas City’s Defensive Player of the Year, MLS Defender of the Year, MLSsoccer.com Breakout Player of the Year, and MLS Best XI. Besler appeared in 31 matches this season, making 30 starts and playing a total of 2,769 minutes at center back for Sporting Kansas City. Besler notched the game-winning assist in 2-1 victory over D.C. United on August 11 at Sporting Park. Besler also tallied a game-winning assist on September 19 during Sporting Kansas City’s 2-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena. Besler played in all five Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches and converted PK in championship shootout.
2011: Named a 2011 MLS All-Star, Besler featured in 32 MLS regular season matches for Sporting Kansas City, playing the full 90 minutes in each one. Registered two goals and two assists on the season, scoring his first career goal on March 26 v. Chicago. Scored the game-winning goal on Oct. 22 v. D.C. United to secure the top seed for Sporting Kansas City in the Eastern Conference. Team leader in minutes played in 2011.
2010: Had 10 starts and played in 12 matches, primarily in central defense. Also played 46 minutes in Kansas City’s 2-1 upset of Manchester United in summer friendly, entering after Jimmy Conrad’s ejection in the first half.
2009: Selected 8th overall in the first round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. Appeared in 28 matches with 26 starts as a rookie, either as a left back or in central defense.
NATIONAL TEAM (25 caps, 1 assist):
He trained with the U.S. U-20 National Team in December 2006. Played on the U.S. U-15 National Team.
2012: Named to U.S. Men's National Team for first time in August 2012 as part of 23-player roster for friendly against Mexico at Estadio Azteca. The Americans defeat of Mexico snapped a 20-game winless streak for the USMNT in matches played in Mexico City.
2013:Called into the 2013 USMNT January Camp along with Sporting KC teammates Graham Zusi and Benny Feilhaber. Earned his first cap for the USMNT on January 29, 2013 (0-0 draw against Canada). Besler was named to the USMNT squad for the FIFA World Cup Qualifying games against Costa Rica (March 22, 2013) and Mexico (March 26, 2013). He earned his first start and second cap for the USMNT against Mexico at Estadio Azteca and helped the team to a 0-0 draw, marking only the second time in USMNT history that the team has earned a point at Estadio Azteca in World Cup Qualifying history. Played final 21 minutes of 4-2 friendly loss to Belgium on May 29, 2013. Started and played 90 minutes in 4-3 win over Germany in U.S. Soccer's Centenniel Celebration (June 2, 2013). Started and played 90 minutes in World Cup qualifier wins over Jamaica (June 7, 2013), Panama (June 11, 2013) and Honduras (June 18, 2013). Called in for quarterfinal stage of 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup and played 75 minutes in 5-1 win over El Salvador (July 21, 2013). Started and played 90 minutes in 3-1 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal win over Honduras (July 24, 2013) and 1-0 CONCACAF Gold Cup final win over Panama (July 28, 2013). Started, played 90 minutes and picked up a yellow card in a 3-1 loss to Costa Rica in FIFA World Cup Qualifying (September 6, 2013). Was suspended for match vs. Mexico on September 10, 2013, due to yellow card accumulation. Started and played 90 minutes in 2-0 win over Jamaica at Sporting Park that sealed first place in the Hex.
2014: Participated in January Camp and played 60 minutes in 2-0 win over Korea Republic on Feb. 1. Named to the roster for April 2 international friendly against Mexico. Named to the final 23-man roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup on May 22. Started in pre-World Cup friendly victories over Azerbaijan (2-0) on May 27, Turkey (2-1) on June 1 and Nigeria (2-1) on June 7. Most recently appeared in a 4-1 friendly defeat against Ireland on Nov. 18, starting and playing the full match. The USMNT is 13-4-5 when he starts. 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP: Started and played 45 minutes in a 2-1 win over Ghana on June 16. Started and played the full match in a 2-2 draw against Portugal on June 22, leading all players with 12 clearances and five interceptions. Started and played the full match in a 1-0 loss to Germany on June 26. Started and played all 120 minutes in a 2-1 extra time loss to Belgium in the Round of 16.
2015: Started both international friendlies during the U.S. MNT January Camp. Played 90 minutes in a 3-2 defeat at Chile on Jan. 28, recording the first assist of his international career to Brek Shea in the sixth minute. Played 90 minutes in a 2-0 win over Panama on Feb. 8.
COLLEGE: Played 4 seasons at the University of Notre Dame, receiving All-American and Academic All-American honors as a senior. Named the NSCAA 2008 Senior College Men's Scholar All-America Player of the Year. Was named to the All Big East Team 3 times, playing in 90 games (73 starts) during his college career. Finished college career with 5 goals and 7 assists. Helped Notre Dame gain 4 straight berths to the NCAA Championship, including the program's first 2 trips to the quarterfinals in 2006 and 2007.
YOUTH: Four year All-Conference player at Blue Valley West High School in Overland Park, KS. Led Blue Valley West to the Kansas 5A State Championship as a senior, scoring 23 goals with 19 assists. Holds season and career marks in total points (124), goals (40) and assists (44) at Blue Valley West. Member of the KCFC Alliance club team, where he was teammates with current Sporting Kansas City defender Seth Sinovic. Also a key member of the Region II Olympic Developmental Program (ODP). Competed in the 2004 ESP All-Star game.
PERSONAL: Winner of the 2012 preseason beep test. Has two younger brothers, Mike and Nick. His brother Nick is a midfielder for the Portland Timbers. Also enjoys basketball, golf, tennis, completing the daily crossword in USA Today and spending with his dog Gipper. Graduated from Notre Dame in 3.5 years with degree in psychology/pre-medicine, where he was roommates with current Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Attended many of Sporting Kansas City’s MLS matches during his childhood, and is a supporter of all sports organizations in Kansas City. Favorite athlete growing up was Michael Jordan. Aunt Marsha Pankratz was a two-time Olympian in field hockey. Lists playing on opening night at Sporting Park as his top soccer memory. Played youth soccer with current Sporting KC defender Seth Sinovic. Sinovic and Besler's fathers were teammates for the Kansas State Wildcats football team in college. Wears the number five in honor of former Royals third basemen George Brett. Married his long-time girlfriend Amanda this past offseason.