Reaction & Ratings: Besler, Zusi in USA-MEX

Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler and Graham Zusi started for the U.S. Men's National Team on Tuesday in a historic 0-0 draw against Mexico at Estadio Azteca in FIFA World Cup Qualifying. Both players -- former MLS All-Stars and members of the 2012 MLS Best XI -- received high ratings in the responses compiled below from media members following the match. And for good measure, check out the front page of today's ‪Récord‬ daily newspaper in Mexico (shown on right).

Besler and Zusi will re-join Sporting Kansas City today following their flight from Mexico City.

Matt Besler

"Tackled and won balls in the air confidently. Cut out an amazing number of through balls and angled passes off the feet of Giovanni dos Santos and Javier Aquino, and confidently cleared most of the high balls launched in his direction. The absence of a true second forward to partner Chicharito eased his task, yet he timed his interventions impeccably to repel Mexico’s dinking passes and darting runs as they edged into the penalty area.‬" - Ridge Mahoney (Soccer America)

"For the U.S., the heroes were many. The raw center back pairing of Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler more than held its own…As Mexico created chance after chance, it was the physicality of Gonzalez and the anticipation of Besler that snuffed the opportunities." - Thomas Floyd (Soccer by Ives)

"Matt Besler, Gonzalez's partner in central defense, was just as impressive considering the circumstances…The cerebral, left-footed Besler, who had just one U.S. cap coming in (with the B-squad, no less), showed that he's a viable center back option going forward, and a perfect partner for the tall, tough, right-footed Gonzalez." - Doug McIntyre (

"It marked a coming of age for the young central defensive duo of Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez. Besler, making just his second appearance for the U.S., delivered a composed performance…Gonzalez and Besler repelled most everything Mexico threw their way…For a player experiencing just his second cap, he didn't look overawed at all. Took one for the team in the first half, getting booked for a tactical foul on Dos Santos, but otherwise performed well, especially in the air." - Jeff Carlisle (

"Perhaps the biggest worry on the starting XI was it’s most complimentary contributor. In only his second international appearance ever, the Sporting KC man has shown he belongs. To have a performance like he did while carrying a yellow card for most of the match? That is talent." - Dave Martinez (Empire of Soccer)

"Centerbacks Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler turned in star performances despite the fact both still have single-digit appearances totals for the national team...Besler was equally impressive, showing well in his very first qualifier...Played every bit like a veteran rather than a novice playing just his second U.S. Men’s National Team match. He was strong in the air, confident on the ball and did his best to keep tabs on Chicharito." - Ives Galarcep (Soccer by Ives)

"Besler got EVERYONE'S attention. Big player. Big game. On a big stage." - Brad Porter (Metro Sports)

"Biggest result of the Klinsmann era. Besler and Gonzalez were massive. Not sure how any other CBs can start going forward." - Seth Vertelney (

"Gonzalez and Besler looked like they have played together all their lives. Fact is, they played together once -- in the 0-0 tie with Canada in January, which also happened to be Besler's only previous cap." - Paul Kennedy (Soccer America)

Graham Zusi

"Showed polish and confidence in the attacking third and played clever touches on several sequences...His defensive contributions were vital. He tracked back to topple Giovanni Dos Santos with a sharp tackle at a critical moment, and got his head to a dangerous back-post cross. Throughout the match he helped shield Cameron from the runs of Guardado and Torres Nilo." - Ridge Mahoney (Soccer America)

"Besler and Omar Gonzalez were ball-clearing beasts…Graham Zusi’s tremendous tracking in the 72nd minute, a 30-yard dash to heroically head away a ball and prevent a point blank header from Angel Reyna." - Steve Davis (NBC Sports)

"The defensive contributions of Graham Zusi and Herculez Gomez can’t be overstated...Known more as a creative finess player in MLS, Zusi showed on Tuesday that he is more than capable of doing the necessary dirty work as a two-way winger. He made some lung-busting runs to help cover for Cameron on the right flank and tried testing Mexico’s defense when he could." - Ives Galarcep (Soccer By Ives)

"Play of the game for me was that 40yd run to make that defensive play ‪#huge‬ ‪#Zusi‬." - Taylor Twellman (ESPN)

"I thought a big take away for the ‪#usmnt‬ was the defensive play of Graham Zusi. It won't be talked about a lot but it was huge." - Brian Sciaretta (Yanks Abroad)

"I see you ‪@mbesler‬. The whole world sees you, too. And ‪@gzusi‬ continues to solidify his place as an indispensable piece for ‪#USMNT‬...After tonight, one has to think ‪@mbesler‬ and ‪@gzusi‬ are a few more steps along the ‪#RoadtoBrazil‬." - Tod Palmer (KC Star)

"The right-sider again saw the ball too infrequently, but he made sure to contribute with a few excellent plays on the backtrack. One in particular, a mad hustle to disrupt a potential back post shooter in the waning moments, was big." - Greg Seltzer (

"With two plays alone — his backtracking tackle deep down left wing on Andres Guardado in the first half and his 30-yard run to nick an open header off the head of Angel Reyna in the 72nd — Zusi made a case for man of the match honors." - Andrew Das (New York Times)