The Full 90

Covering Sporting Kansas City and soccer throughout the Midwest and the world

USA closes in on World Cup spot, SKC duo play big part

06/19/2013 4:41 PM

06/19/2013 4:41 PM

Last night, the United States Men's national team took out Honduras 1-0

and earned the right to start checking out flights and hotel rates for Brazil next summer.

While Jurgen Klinsmann and company aren't quite into the 2014 World Cup field officially, 13 points from six matches (and a five point lead over rival Mexico) means it's almost a sure thing.

With four games left in this cycle, the United States realistically only needs to earn four more points to secure a spot officially. In the last three World Cup cycles, 16 points has assured a spot in the World Cup. Since "The Hexagonal" began, only Costa Rica in 2010 have failed to qualify for the World Cup with 16 points -- they lost out to Honduras in goal differential and fell in a playoff with Uruguay.

The U.S. finish off the month of June with 9 points from three games -- and a nice 4-3 victory over Germany in a friendly to boot. That's some nice momentum heading into this summer's Gold Cup and the next batch of qualifiers in September.

And, for Kansas City fans, two local heroes have been a big part of this recent run.

Overland Park's Matt Besler has emerged with Los Angeles' Omar Gonzalez as Klinsmann's number one defensive pairing. Over the three qualifiers this month, the U.S. have allowed just one goal -- and that goal appears on reviewing to have been offside.

The reviews for him have been pretty good too. According to the excellent blog

No Short Corners

, Besler during the Honduras game "positioned himself wonderfully and even provided some solid distribution. He is the best American defender, again, still, until further notice."

Pro Soccer Talk

, also discussing last night's game: "Sure-footed, confident clearances marked a very good night for the emerging U.S. international, [Besler] was better than his central partner in this one."

Graham Zusi was instrumental in leading the Yanks to victory in Jamaica (he assisted on Jozy Altidore's goal) and last night he and Michael Bradley lifted the tempo in the second half (and it was his brilliant piece of skill that opened up Fabian Johnson to assist on Altidore's game-winning goal). He missed the Panama game on yellow-card suspension.