Ike Opara Matt Besler Matt Hedges Walker Zimmerman
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Tale of the Tape: Center backs take center stage on Saturday

Three of the players have earned at least one cap for the U.S. Men’s National Team. The fourth has earned multiple appearances for U.S. youth national teams. Two of the players have earned MLS Defender of the Year honors, while the other two are making a case for such honor in 2017.

Saturday’s matchup between Sporting KC and FC Dallas features two of the top defensive teams in Major League Soccer. So it’s no surprise that each team is anchored by one of the top center back pairings in the MLS.

Sporting Kansas City are led by Matt Besler and Ike Opara who are at the center of a back line that has allowed just two goals in six games. FC Dallas’ backline, which has allowed just three goals in five games, is led by Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman. 

So who has the stronger center back pairing heading into the weekend? Let’s take a look at the tape.

  Matt Besler Ike Opara Matt Hedges Walker Zimmerman
Age 30 28 27 23
Collegiate honors Three-time All Big East selection (Notre Dame)
2008 First Team All-American
Two-time ACC Defender of the Year (Wake Forest)
Two-time All-American
Two-time Horizon League Defender of the Year (Butler)
2011 ACC Defender of the Year (North Carolina)
2011 First Team All-American
Two-time All-Southern Conference First-Team (Furman)
2011 Southern Conference Freshman of the Year
SuperDraft selection No. 8 pick in 2009 SuperDraft No. 3 pick in 2010 SuperDraft No. 11 pick in 2012 SuperDraft No. 7 pick in 2013 SuperDraft
MLS statistics 206 regular season appearances
200 regular season starts
93 regular season appearances
67 regular season starts
Second among all defenders in aerial duels in 2017
155 regular season appearances
148 regular season starts
71 regular season appearances
57 regular season starts
MLS honors 2012 MLS Best XI
2012 MLS Defender of the Year
2012 MLS Breakout Player of the Year
Four-time MLS All-Star
Four-time Sporting KC Defender of the Year
2013 Sporting KC Newcomer of the Year 2015 and 2016 MLS Best XI
2016 MLS Defender of the Year
 
International experience 39 caps, 1 goal and 1 assist
Played four matches at 2014 FIFA World Cup
Started all three matches at the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt
Invited to camp with the U.S. Olympic squad (U-23) from Feb. 19-29, 2012
1 cap for U.S MNT 1 cap for U.S. MNT
Captained U.S. Under-18 National Team at the 2011 Milk Cup
Has featured for U-18, U-20 and U-23 teams