Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler played 90 minutes and recorded the first assist of his international career on Wednesday as the United States Men’s National Team kicked off 2015 with a 3-2 defeat to Chile.
Besler set up Orlando City SC winger Break Shea’s sixth-minute opener at Estadio El Teniente in Rancagua, Chile, but the hosts responded just four minutes later through Roberto Gutierrez. Toronto FC striker Jozy Altidore restored the Americans’ lead in the 31st minute before Mark Gonzalez rallied the hosts to victory with a second-half brace.
Deployed as a left-sided defender in U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann’s new-look 3-5-2 formation, Besler turned provider six minutes into the match. His perfectly weighted 30-yard pass from the left side of midfield split two Chilean defenders and found Shea, who rifled a one-time strike past goalkeeper Johnny Herrera.
Chile equalized in the 10th minute as Gutierrez headed a cross from Gonzalez into the back of the net.
The U.S. went ahead for the second time on the half-hour mark. DeAndre Yedlin ignited an attack down the right flank, laying a through ball into the path of Mix Diskerud. The New York City FC midfielder crossed low to Altidore, who slotted home from 12 yards out.
Chile nearly leveled terms at the end of the first half, but Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando produced a crucial save to deny Diego Valdes from close range. Gutierrez thought he had scored a second goal on the stroke of halftime but was flagged offside.
The U.S. reverted to a more familiar 4-4-2 formation with a midfield diamond to begin the second half. Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley was inches away from giving the Yanks a two-goal cushion in the 62nd minute, but his 25-yard effort rattled the crossbar.
The hosts would take advantage, finding a second goal after 66 minutes as Marco Medel picked out Gonzalez on the left edge of the six-yard box. The forward drove inside and finished low from a tight angle.
Nine minutes later, Chile had its first lead of the match. Rimando initially saved a long-range attempt but the ball bounced into the path of Gonzalez, who fired a shot through traffic and into the far corner.
Besler earned his 24th cap and 23rd international start since debuting in January 2013. Sporting Kansas City homegrown goalkeeper Jon Kempin did not feature but traveled with the U.S. senior team squad for the first time in his career. The 21-year-old Leawood, Kansas native has previously represented his country at the Under-14 through Under-23 levels.
Ranked No. 27 in the latest FIFA rankings, the U.S. lost to No. 14 Chile for the first time in six meetings dating back to 1995 (3-5-2 all-time). Klinsmann owns a 33-16-11 record since becoming the Yanks’ head coach in August 2011.
Besler and Kempin have participated at the U.S. MNT January Camp since its start on Jan. 12, and the duo is expected to remain with the national team through the camp's completion on Sunday, Feb. 8, when the U.S. plays CONCACAF rivals Panama at StubHub Center in Carson, California (3 p.m. CT on ESPN, UniMas, UDN).
Besler and Kempin will then rejoin Sporting Kansas City for the club’s second preseason training camp in Tucson, Arizona (Feb. 15-March 1), where the team will compete in the 2015 Desert Diamond Cup.