Photo by ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
WASHINGTON – If Matt Besler’s stock had been rising in recent months due to his performances with the U.S. Men’s National Team, it likely reached a whole other level after their 4-3 win over Germany on Sunday.
Besler delivered another solid performance in a U.S. uniform on Sunday, helping the Americans limit Germany’s talented attack for much of the U.S. Soccer centennial celebration match played in sweltering conditions at RFK Stadium. Besler was solid for the most part in what was just his fourth cap and his strong defensive performance next to fellow centerback Omar Gonzalez allowed for the U.S. to jump out to a 4-1 lead before Germany’s late barrage made things close again.
After the match, Klinsmann wasn’t ready to say he had Besler penciled in for a start in Friday’s World Cup qualifier in Jamaica, where the Americans suffered a 2-1 loss last year. But Klinsmann was full of compliments for the Sporting Kansas City defender that continues to impress at the international level.
“For us, it’s really important just to have those games,” said Klinsmann. “To see them in our environment, and not only the club environment to make our judgements, to say ‘Okay, who we definitely have in the back line in Kingston on Friday night.’ Based on his game in Mexico City, Matt Besler deserved that opportunity today and he used it well.
“There’s a lot of competition going on and obviously we have Clarence Goodson with a lot of experience, especially in these CONCACAF games, and we have Geoff Cameron being hungry as ever, playing wherever we need him. But you see that there are some players maturing. … Matt Besler is just playing like he was here already last five, six years.”
For the third time this year, Besler again proved a formidable partner next to Gonzalez. The two centerbacks seemed to be on the same page more often than not, snuffing out several German attacks much in the same way that they did when they started together in the U.S.’s scoreless draw with Mexico at Estadio Azteca in World Cup qualifying in March.
Their performance together was surely a refreshing sight for Klinsmann after the Americans’ defensively-frail outing in a 4-2 defeat to Belgium this past Wednesday and one that further made the case that Besler and Gonzalez are the two U.S. centerbacks who complement each other the best.
“We’re just different players,” said Besler. “Some of his strengths are my weaknesses and some of my strengths are his weaknesses. I’m not going to get into the specific stuff but I think we complement each other well. The key is just backing each other up. They can get by one of us, but they can’t get by both of us, so we’re always covering for each other and that’s kind of what it starts with.”
Besler may have had another fine outing, but he was far from perfect. On one play early in the first half, Andre Schurrle megged left back DaMarcus Beasley before blowing by Besler. Schurrle then got a good look on goal but pushed his shot wide of the far post.
That play and Germans’ late attempt at a rally left Besler knowing that there are improvements to be made, especially if he is to earn another start when the U.S. face Jamaica at Independence Park on Friday.
“I’ll have to look at the tape but off the top of my head, we can step out a little bit more,” said Besler. “We can be a little bit quicker with how we step out and get pressure to the ball.”