U.S. defender Matt Besler named to Goal 50

The Sporting KC star center back finds himself among the top players in the world after leading his club to the MLS Cup and shining at the World Cup.
U.S. national team defender Matt Besler has been named to Goal 50 after guiding Sporting KC to the 2013 MLS title and a strong showing at the World Cup.

The 27-year-old is one of two MLS players to be voted among the top 50 players in the world by Goal writers.

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Although he's not a household name in world soccer, Besler had a fantastic year for both club and country. After helping Sporting KC defeat Real Salt Lake in the MLS Cup, he was the anchor of the U.S. back line as the team finished second in the Group of Death in Brazil.

"I'm honored and quite honestly a bit surprised," Besler told Goal. "There's so many talented players in the world and I'm grateful to be recognized."

Besler made his national team debut on Jan. 29, 2013 during a friendly against Canada and went on to shine at center back for Jurgen Klinsmann's squad in World Cup qualifying. He started in all four World Cup games, earning recognition from several European teams.

After he acknowledged receiving offers to play for Sunderland and Fulham, Besler decided to sign a designated player contract with Sporting KC that will keep him in MLS for the foreseeable future.

"I'm very happy to be staying at such a great club," Besler said. "After weighing the options I had in Europe, I felt it was best for me as a player to stay. You never want to close the door on anything during your career, and I don't plan on doing that, but right now I'm dedicated to Sporting KC."

The full Goal 50 will be announced later Monday, and Besler has tipped Cristiano Ronaldo to walk away with the top honor.

"He has it all, the total package as a player," Besler said. "Speed, skill, power, technique, and the passion to succeed."