Sporting Kansas City certainly made its mark in the United States' 2-2 draw against Portugal on Sunday in Manaus, Brazil.
At kickoff, Matt Besler and Graham Zusi became the first duo from the same MLS team to start a World Cup match together for the U.S. since 2002. Zusi registered his second World Cup assist in as many matches, setting up Clint Dempsey for a go-ahead goal in the 81st minute. The midfielder is one of nine players to have multiple assists in the 2014 World Cup.
It was Besler's performance in central defense, however, that earned the praise of national soccer journalists. Following the match, the Kansas native received consistently high marks from player ratings across the country.
"At left centerback, the "Beast-ler" was a real monster. The Sporting KC defender easily led all players with both 12 clearances and five pass interceptions. Besler repeatedly stepped up to cut off the Portugal attack and pulled off an acrobatic header to keep Cristiano Ronaldo from breaking in alone in the 34th minute. If that all wasn't enough, he moved the ball safely and effectively with but one easily-covered exception." -- Greg Seltzer, MLSsoccer.com (9/10)
"Put in a terrific shift in the back four, as he denied the Portuguese counter of breaking loose and wreaking havoc on Howard in net." -- Joe Tansey, Bleacher Report (7.5/10)
"Against Ghana, Besler had a strong first half, but a hamstring injury forced him out of the game at halftime. Against Portugal, he picked up where he left off with a steady outing." -- Brian Sciaretta, NYtimes.com (7.5/10)
"Was sharp throughout, timing his tackles well and was commanding in the air. Looked to be injured at one point, but recovered to play a strong match." -- Jeff Carlisle, ESPNFC.com (7/10)
"The U.S.'s best pure defender, Besler was steady at the back and held Portugal forward Eder well in check. If Cameron had played to Besler's level, the Americans would have pitched a shutout." -- Jerry Hinnen, CBSsports.com (6/10)
"Hardly put a foot wrong at the back. Went into every challenge with confidence and kept Eder invisible." -- Goal.com (3 stars)