Chat with Matt Besler
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, U.S. men's team defender Matt Besler drops by to chat about his experience at the World Cup in Brazil, where the U.S. advanced out of the group stage in back-to-back World Cups for the first time in history.
Besler played a key role in the U.S. defense, where he started all four matches for the U.S. Other thank the second half of the U.S.'s first game against Ghana, when Besler came off due to injury, he played every single minute of every match. ESPNFC.com ranked Besler's performance as the second best among the U.S. team.
Outside of the U.S. team, Besler has played for Sporting Kansas City in the MLS since 2009. He was the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year, while also winning the MLS Cup in 2013. A native of Kansas, he is the first player from the state to make the national team.
Send your questions now and join Besler Thursday at 1:45 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (1:41 PM)
Matt will be here in a few minutes to take your questions!
Buzzmaster (1:46 PM)
Matt is here!
how aware were you and the team about all of he hoopla going on back here in the States, with all of the watch parties and everything?
Matt Besler (1:48 PM)
We were very aware of it. Because we all had wifi and through social media, we were able to see videos of the watch parties and the bars and people throwing beer all over each other. It was incredible to see. But, unless you're back here you don't fully understand. We were in a bubble.
Did you guys have any down time while you were there? or was it soccer all the time?
Matt Besler (1:49 PM)
We had limited down time. Because of our schedule and the amount of traveling. The one or two days we had off, most of the guys just took time to rest and catch up with family.
Keith (St. Louis)
Would you agree that you can play like you did the last 20 minutes against Belgium for a whole match? If your answer is yes, do you disagree that you truly believed that you could based on the performances against Germany/Belgium?
Matt Besler (1:50 PM)
We were forced to start attacking more and to push for a goal, because we were losing. The last 20 minutes of regulation really took a toll on us physically, because of the pressure Belgium was putting on us. Looking back, yes, we would have liked to have played like that for more of the game, but credit to Belgium. They made it tough.
What was your reaction when Wondo missed the chance in stoppage time?
Matt Besler (1:52 PM)
It was a tough one to not see go in. We've seen him put that in 100 times before. We all felt for Wondo. He took it harder than anybody. It was one of those chances that fell to him and unfortunately, it didn't go in.
Chase Hart (Portland )
Any interest in taking your new found prestige and moving abroad? there must be interest over the pond for your signature?
Matt Besler (1:53 PM)
After playing on the World Cup stage, I think there is always interest. I can't really answer it right now, because right now I am very happy in KC. I am happy playing in the MLS. At the same time, any player, if there are opportunities that come up, you'll look at them and make decisions.
Ken (St. Louis)
In extra time of the Belgium game, what was your thought process for defending against Lukaku on their first goal?
Matt Besler (1:54 PM)
It's a tough matchup. Obviously, we had played 90 minutes. The way that we defended most of the game, everyone had heavy legs. Lukaku is a very talented striker, he has speed, strength. We knew that with him coming on, he was going to try and make runs behind the defense. We tried to do as best we could handling him. But in the end, Belgium was able to find him in space and credit to them for taking advantage of him being on the field.
so much was made about Brazil not being ready for the tournament....did you guys see any of that?
Matt Besler (1:55 PM)
No. Not at all. It was great for us. We were probably in a little bit of a bubble. All of our families were down there. They didn't experience any threats, any problems. Everything ran smoothly. Except for the rain that one game.
Mitch (Chicago) [via mobile]
Would you consider the performance of the US in Brazil a success?
Matt Besler (1:56 PM)
Yes, I would consider it a success. I think we made a lot of strides as a soccer country and as a team. I think that we have a lot to be excited about and to build on. It's not all a success, either. We are definitely disappointed that we didn't advance farther than we did. We all believe that we had a chance to beat Belgium.
Dean (Overland Park, Kansas)
How big of a step up was it from playing at Blue Valley West High School to Notre Dame?
Matt Besler (1:57 PM)
Each level that you progress, it's always an adjustment. Speed of play. Speed of thought. The physicality. Everything happens faster. You have to make adjustments.
Matt Besler (1:57 PM)
Grant P. (Houston)
Congrats on a great tournament Matt, couldn't be more proud of you. How did playing in Manaus compare to some of the locations you've played in MLS?
Matt Besler (1:58 PM)
Everyone compares it to Houston. Houston is the most humid and the hottest to play in the MLS. Manaus was more humid than Houston, but not as hot. Manaus was probably only in the 80s, but the humidity was worse.
What is your take on soccer growing here in the US? Do you see a difference in fan attending MLS games now vs. when you started your career?
Matt Besler (2:00 PM)
Absolutely. I started five years ago. Now you're talking soccer specific stadiums for almost every team. Where I play in KC, we've had 50 straight sellouts or something like that. It's almost uncomparable. For us, we feel like it's at this tipping point where it's really close to being mainstream. As players, we can all feel that and it's exciting.
Stuart KC [via mobile]
Well done playing Matt. Tim would have been working much harder than if you were not there. Where do you go from here?
Matt Besler (2:01 PM)
We have a game on Sunday on ESPN against Chicago. Me and Graham will not be playing in that one. After this tour, I'm headed right back to KC. We'll definitely get 3-4 days off. It depends on our coach Peter, who probably wants to give us a half day off. We'll have to see how our bodies react. You want to recover before you jump back into things.
Chris (Harrisburg, PA)
How big of a tactical change was the team coached to make from game to game?
Matt Besler (2:03 PM)
The biggest thing we had to change was when Jozy went down injured. That was a huge blow to us. We changed our formation. We put Clint up as the lone striker and brought another midfielder in. That was probably the biggest change we had to make. But game to game, you're always making little changes. Formation wise, it was all the same after Jozy's injury.
Jordan Adams (Omaha)
Was there a defining moment at this World Cup, that as a team everyone will be able to look back and remember the joy it brought?
Matt Besler (2:04 PM)
Wow.....I want to say the first game. The national anthem. But I honestly don't remember it that much. My emotions were so up and down. I was so jacked up, I can't remember it. Even on Clint's goal in that first game, everything happened so quickly. I can't even remember it going in.
Matt Besler (2:05 PM)
I would say too, after we advanced, in the lockerroom, we were playing music and just randomly there was a mix of songs and Born in the USA came on and it gave me chills. Everyone was singing.
Matt Besler (2:05 PM)
Thank you for the questions and all of the support over the past couple of weeks. You were amazing!