Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler wrote a new chapter in his storied soccer career on Tuesday night, making his debut for the U.S. Men's National Team and going the full 90 minutes in a scoreless draw against Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas. The reigning MLS Defender of the Year and MLS Best XI selection, Besler's rise through the ranks of American soccer is both impressive and unprecedented. How so?
Besler is believed to have become the first Kansas native^ to ever play for the full U.S. Men's or Women's National Team. And as fate would have it, the Overland Park, Kan. native accomplished the historic feat on Kansas Day, the 152nd anniversary of the state's admisssion to the Union on January 29, 1861.
Kansas City Star soccer savant Tod Palmer caught up with Besler for a story in today's sports section about the experience, in which Besler reflects:
"It's been a long, long journey, but it feels very fulfilling right now...Looking back, it's a pretty crazy journey, but it felt amazing and I want more caps now."
At age 25, Besler isn't all that far removed from his prep days when he led Blue Valley West to the Kansas 5A State Championship in 2004 before becoming an All-American at Notre Dame. Now four years after being taken in the first round of the MLS SuperDraft, the 2012 MLS Breakout Player of the Year could be on the cusp of a similar breakout at the international level.
^List below of Kansas natives and their participation with U.S. national teams...
*Invited to training camp but did not make gameday roster
Kevin Ten Eyck