2014 Reflections: Matt Besler

More than 22 months ago, Matt Besler was selected to the United States Men’s National Team roster for a three-week training camp in Carson, California. The camp ran from Jan. 7-27, 2013 and culminated with his international debut against Canada on Jan. 29.


Fast forward to present day and Besler’s game log since the beginning of 2013 is 86 lines deep.


Forty-three matches in each of the last two calendar years. More than 7,400 minutes recorded in eight different countries. Six combined competitions for club and country. Three extended training camps with the national team and two preseason camps with Sporting Kansas City. And numerous friendlies to intensify his globetrotting ventures, ranging from MLS All-Star Games to World Cup tune-ups.


Following a 90-minute performance in the United States’ 4-1 loss to Ireland on Tuesday, the Sporting KCcaptain finished almost two uninterrupted years of serving his club and country.


The odyssey lasted nearly 700 days and included less than a month of offseason rest.


Consider that the January 2013 camp led into a February preseason with Sporting KC, which didn’t finish its season until winning MLS Cup on Dec. 7. Then, after a few weeks off -- during which time he got married -- he began preparation for another U.S. training camp that commenced Jan. 6.


His 2014 calendar bore a similar resemblance.


Sporting KC’s season ended a month earlier this time around, but another U.S. call-up extended Besler’s season well into November. This year also involved a physically challenging World Cup campaign that saw him start all four U.S. MNT matches in Brazil.


Besler started 85 of his 86 appearances during this stretch. He played in three club competitions (MLS regular season, MLS Playoffs and the CONCACAF Champions League) and three national team competitions (2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, 2014 World Cup Qualifying and 2014 World Cup). That’s not to mention friendlies in both Sporting blue and the stars and stripes.

He saw competitive action in eight countries. He logged MLS minutes in the United States and Canada. The CONCACAF Champions League sent him to Mexico and Nicaragua. World Cup Qualifying prompted trips to Jamaica, Costa Rica and another visit to Mexico. The FIFA World Cup took him to Brazil. This past week, he finally concluded the two-year trek as an unused substitute in England and a starter in Ireland.


Meeting the demands yielded rewards -- most notably an MLS Cup trophy and a consistent presence in head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s side. Since the beginning of 2013, Besler’s 23 caps trail only Jozy Altidore, DaMarcus Beasley and Alejandro Bedoya (24 each). In 2014 alone, no U.S. player has more starts than Besler’s 11.


The 27-year-old may not be the only player with at least 86 games played over the last two years, but steady involvement with the national team coupled with a domestic league that requires far more travel than others makes for two incredibly demanding years of near-nonstop soccer.


Now, at long last, Besler is presented the opportunity to rest for longer than just a few weeks. Given the mileage he’s put in over the last two years, it will certainly be a welcome break.


Matt Besler since January 2013

Competition
2013
2014
TOTAL
MLS appearances*
28
25
<strong>53</strong>
MLS minutes*
2580
2235
<strong>4815</strong>
CCL appearances
2
5
<strong>7</strong>
CCL minutes
180
450
<strong>630</strong>
Club friendly appearances**
1
2
<strong>3</strong>
Club friendly minutes
45
90
<strong>135</strong>
USMNT appearances
12
11
<strong>23</strong>
USMNT minutes
996
844
<strong>1840</strong>
<strong>Total appearances</strong>
<strong>43</strong>
<strong>43</strong>
<strong>86</strong>
<strong>Total minutes</strong>
<strong>3801</strong>
<strong>3619</strong>
<strong>7420</strong>

includes MLS postseason
*includes MLS All-Star game