The appearance lasted only 28 minutes Friday, and while it was a rather uneventful 28 minutes, Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler’s return to the U.S. men’s national team was potentially a consequential moment. Even if it came during an international exhibition.
In the Americans’ 2-1 victory Friday against Peru, Besler came off the bench for his first playing time with the national team in seven months. A fixture during the 2014 World Cup, Besler was left off the Gold Cup team this summer. The U.S. finished fourth in the tournament and was left with questions about its defensive miscues.
That’s in the past. The future? That would be a date with Mexico on Oct. 10, when the U.S. will play its longstanding rival for a berth in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia.
A month after it appeared Besler was fading from the national team picture, might the central defender be back in the fold for a spot on the roster?
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“I hope so,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. “There’s a lot that can happen. Some of the decisions are out of my hands. But I know I can sleep at night and hold my head up high, because I gave everything I had. I’ll continue to do so, and I’ll prepare myself to hopefully get that call in October.”
Besler was a steady fixture on the back line with the U.S. team for the better part of two years, culminating in his 2014 World Cup appearance. After his ensuing absence from the national team this summer, his return this month lasted less than a week — concluding with Friday’s one-game appearance.
Not much time to make an impression.
But it could be enough. U.S. national-team coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he was “impressed with Matt Besler this week,” which represented the Americans’ final tuneup before its winner-take-all match against Mexico next month.
“I think you have to prove something every single day — whether it’s with the national team or your club team. You have to have that mentality, if you wanna be consistent, if you wanna be successful,” Besler said. “But anytime you’re with the national team, there’s so much talent there. It’s always a small window. You only have a certain amount of days to prove yourself, so you take every opportunity every seriously.”
The window shrank further after Klinsmann sent Besler back to Sporting KC on Sunday, rather than keeping him for the country’s international exhibition Tuesday against Brazil. Klinsmann indicated the move was made to appease a Sporting KC club that was staring at limited center back options for Wednesday’s match in Portland, which kicks off at 9:30 p.m. from Providence Park.
Sporting KC, in the midst of its first three-game losing streak of the season, hasn’t played in 11 days.
“It was great for the team to kind of take a step back this past week,” Besler said. “We re-grouped and got some rest, physically and mentally. We’re definitely ready to make this final push.”
To reach Sam McDowell, call 816-234-4869 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SamMcDowell11. Tap here to download The Star’s free Extra Time KC soccer app for iOS and Android devices.