US SoccerUS Soccer

Matt Besler

Men's National Team
  • PositionDefender
  • Date of BirthFebruary 11, 1987
  • Height6-0
  • Weight170
  • ClubSporting Kansas City
  • World CupCaps: 4 Goals: 0
  • CareerCaps: 22 Goals: 0
Did you know

Matt's brother Nick is currently a midfielder on Notre Dame's national championships team and his aunt, Marsha Pankratz, is a two-time Olympian in field hockey

Playing History


Has played and started in 10 matches in 2014, including all four games of the FIFA World Cup 
After bursting onto the scene in 2013, he’s now something a veteran heading into a World Cup year 
Prior to 2013, he had zero caps with the U.S. Men’s National Team
Called into January 2013 camp, he debuted in a 0-0 friendly against Canada on January 29
He did receive a call-up for a friendly in Mexico in August 2012, but didn’t play that game
His World Cup qualifying debut came on March 26 at the Azteca, where he picked up just his second cap
Partnering with Omar Gonzalez in the middle, Besler helped shutout El Tri in a 0-0 draw, and he drew rave reviews for his performance
Besler is only the second player to receive a WCQ start with less than two prior Caps
In total, Besler made 11 starts for the U.S. in central defense in 2013, and 12 appearances in all, including six of the ten World Cup qualifiers, and the quarterfinals, semifinals and final of this summer’s Gold Cup, which the USMNT won at the end of July

Youth National Teams

Besler never appeared for a U.S. youth national team in an official competition, though he trained with the U.S. U-16 team and was in camp once with the U.S. U-20 squad while he was in college at Notre Dame


Besler was a standout for Sporting KC though he missed chunks of the MLS season to international duty He played 23 regular season games in 2013, logging 2,070 minutes and started all five of Sporting KC’s playoff games, including MLS Cup final In CONCACAF Champions League play, Besler started two of the team's four group stage matches: a 1-1 draw vs. Real Esteli on Sept. 17 and a 0-0 draw vs. CD Olimpia on Oct. 23 Besler signed a new deal with Sporting KC in January, a three-year deal with an option He appeared in 31 regular season MLS games in 2012, playing 2,769 minutes, notching two assistsPlayed all five U.S. Open Cup matches, converting his PK in the final, which Sporting KC won against Seattle He was named to the MLS Best XI that season, and was the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year Besler scored his first pro goal on March 26 v Chicago, and was voted onto the 2011 MLS All-Star team. He played 32 games, all starts, and totaling 2,880 minutes. Besler finished the season with two goals and two assists Besler made 12 appearances, 10 starts in 2010 and saw the field in the club’s friendly win against Manchester United A first round draft pick of the Kansas City Wizards in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, Besler became Notre Dame’s highest selection in the MLS draft when he was picked eighth overall In his rookie season, Besler made 28 appearances, 26 of them starts, at both center back and left back

Youth clubs

Had a standout youth career with KCFC Alliance and a four-year all conference stint at Blue Valley WestBesler enrolled at Notre Dame in the fall of 2005, starting college as a midfielder Converted into a central defender, playing a total of 90 games, 73 starts, from 2005-2008 Scored five goals and notched seven assists during his career in South Bend, and led the team to four straight NCAA tournament appearances Besler received All-American and Academic All-American honors as a senior at Notre Dame Was named the 2008 NSCAA Scholar Athlete Player of the Year Besler was a standout midfielder in high school. His senior year at Blue Valley West, he led his high school to a state championship, scoring 23 goals and adding 19 assists that year He also played for Region II ODP team

Honors earned

Named team captain ahead of 2014 season 2013 MLS Cup Champion 2013 MLS Best XI 2013 MLS All-Star 2012 MLS Defender of the Year 2012 MLS Breakout Player of the Year 2012 MLS Best XI 2011 MLS All-Star

Career Club History Map

Did you know

Besler and U.S. teammate Graham Zusi were roommates for three years, starting in 2009 when the two joined Sporting KC

Tied to K.C.

Starting on the backline for Sporting KC, Besler plays for his hometown club, as he hails from Overland Park, Kansas. For the first couple of seasons, that was his claim to fame on the Wizards, though he finally achieved a breakthrough in the 2012 season in particular, becoming more than just the local guy earning minutes on Sporting KC.

Still, Sporting KC fans regard him as a hometown hero, especially now that he’s one of the league’s best.

Besler remembers Kansas City first getting an MLS team and sat in a room with family to participate in the fan submission of possible team names. The Kansas City Cannons was the name they submitted. He had full season tickets in the first season and went to many games with his club team, playing pick-up in the parking lot before kick-off.

Keeping the local ties, Besler and U.S. MNT World Cup teammate Graham Zusi both entered MLS in 2009. Besler lived at home and Zusi in the basement when both were rookies, and they were roommates for three years.

Recalls Beslers wife: “Be it raquetball equipment, slingshots or dogs, it seemed Matt and Graham were always doing things together.  The slingshot was a particularly poor decision, as they broke a window at Matt’s parent’s house.” Graham also has a standing bet, once his playing days are over, that he can’t jump from the roof of the Besler house into the pool.

Did you know

Besler played basketball until his freshman year of high school and loves Michael Jordan. He is a fan of every major KC pro sports team.

Plan B

Besler had plans to become a doctor had soccer not panned out. He graduated from the College of Arts and Letters at Notre Dame as a pre-med and psychology major with a 3.518 GPA. He finished in 3.5 years and was networking and preparing for MCATs and med school exams. He had thoughts of following his father’s lead and becoming an optometrist.

“Be it raquetball, slingshots or dogs, it seemed Matt and Graham were always doing things together. The slingshot was a particularly poor decision, as they broke a window at Matt’s parent’s house”

Fan Favorite

Sporting KC fans love their home-town hero. Besler married Amanda Miller on December 14, 2013, one week after winning the MLS Cup. Sporting KC fans got a hold of the couple's registry and bought all the gifts on it. 

 “Matt has always been comfortable in Kansas City," Amanda said. "He really embodies what the people here are about. He’s not flashy, but his professionalism stands out.”

National Teams

A commanding, intelligent center back, Besler broke into the U.S. MNT in 2013 after four impressive seasons in MLS with his hometown club Sporting Kansas City. After a good showing at the team’s January Camp in Houston, U.S. MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann handed Besler his first cap in a friendly against Canada. The 2012 MLS Defender of the Year then distinguished himself in the USA’s 0-0 draw against Mexico at Estadio Azteca, helping the team earn its first ever point in World Cup qualifying at the formidable venue. In total, Besler made 12 appearances for the U.S. in his first year with team, starting 11 matches and his 996 minutes played were second on the team among defenders only to center back partner Omar Gonzalez. 

-Has played and started in 10 matches in 2014, including all four games of the FIFA World Cup 

-Started 11 of his 12 matches played in 2013, his first year with the U.S. MNT

-Helped the team showcase it regional dominance by anchoring a defense that did not allow a goal on home soil as it finished atop the group in the final round of World Cup Qualifying for the 2013 tournament in Brazil

-Also helped buttress the USA’s defense for the final three matches of its run to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup tile

2014: Has played and started in 10 matches in 2014, including all four games of the FIFA World Cup ... 2013: Began his U.S. MNT career with a good showing at the team’s January camp in Houston, where he then received his first cap in a friendly against Canada … Started 11 of the 12 matches he appeared in, including six World Cup Qualifiers, helping the U.S. keep a sterling defensive record by not allowing a goal on home soil and qualify for the FIFA World Cup atop the Hex for the third cycle running … Parachuted in to partner Clarence Goodson in the final three matches of the USA’s run to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup crown … First Appearance: Jan. 29, vs. Canada First Goal: None

2013: Played every minute of SKC’s five-match playoff run to the MLS Cup title … Appeared in 23 regular season matches for SKC, notching two assists … Started two of the team’s four CONCACAF Champions League group stage matches … 2012: Started 30 of 31 matches played on the way to being named MLS Defender of the Year and to the MLS Best XI … Also played in all five of SKC’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches, converting his shot in the team’s PK shoot-out win against Seattle 2011: Had a break out year, playing the full 90 minutes in all 32 matches in which he featured … Scored his first MLS goal on March 26 vs. Chicago and his second was the game-winner against D.C. United on Oct. 22 that secured SKC top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs … Voted an MLS All-Star for the first time 2010: Started 10 of 12 matches he played in, solidifying his path to becoming SKC’s starting center back … 2009: Started 26 of 28 matches played in as a rookie both as a right back and center back …

Married Amanda Miller, whom he had known in high school, in 2013 … Son of Greg, who played football at Kansas State for one year and Diane, who competed in field hockey and track for one year while at New Hampshire … Simultaneously adopted a puppy named Gipper with U.S. MNT and Kansas City teammate Graham Zusi

College – Played four years at Notre Dame, becoming the first player in the history of its soccer program to earn first-team All-America honors and first-team Academic All-America honors, doing so his senior season … Played in 90 total matches one shy of tying the program record, while recording five goals and seven assists over that time … Selected No. 8 in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft by Kansas City, at the time, the highest any Notre Dame player had been taken in the history of the draft … Was team captain his junior and senior seasons …Graduated from the College of Arts and Letters as a pre-professional and psychology major with a 3.518 cumulative GPA …