When the U.S. National team beat Mexico 2-0 in Columbus (again) Tuesday night, defender Matt Besler was not in what has become his customary spot on the backline for Jurgen Klinsmann. He picked up a yellow in the match in Costa Rica that suspended him for the key matchup with Mexico.
The yellow that Besler received in the 78th minute was a least a little bit controversial. Besler is watching the play up field and slowly drifting back as a Costa Rican player runs behind him and goes down like his leg was broken. It is unclear if they touched at all but it is clear that Besler made no move towards the opponent.
Start watching the video around the 5:38 mark and you can see the phantom foul. Referee Marco Rodriguez walks over to where the Costa Rican is laying on the ground and then consults with the assistant referee on the sideline before booking Besler.
"It sucked," Besler stated after Sporting Kansas City practice on Wednesday. "I was upset about it. Its one thing to slide tackle somebody or to take somebody down, then you are sitting at home. I would still be disappointed that I didn't get the chance to play in that game but the fact that you almost feel cheated and you are sitting at home makes it way worse."
"You saw the video," Besler continued. "I can't really say much. I knew from the second that it happened that I didn't do anything. For the next fifteen seconds when I saw the ref walking over everything was kind of happening in slow motion for me because I knew that he was going to make a bad decision."
Just a couple minutes before the controversial yellow, Costa Rica extended their lead to 3-1 when Joel Campbell streaked in on the U.S. goal while Besler was trying to catch him. Even in that circumstance Besler did not foul the opponent.
"It didn't go through my head," Besler explained. "It's unnatural for me to take down a guy from behind. I just don't see myself making that play. You could argue that it would be the smarter play to do to maybe give ourselves a chance, there is so many things that go through your head, that wasn't one of them."
What is amazing is that even with all the disappointment, Besler still finds a way to be positive. "It was tough not to think about, for the first 24 or 48 hours I couldn't get it out of my mind. Pretty upset about it but when you look back it's one thing that's happened over this past year I've had a lot of great opportunities and blessings so I can't be too upset about it."
Watching and waiting from Kansas City
"Selfishly, it was tough to watch the end, the celebration," Besler admitted. "I didn't mind watching the game because I was focused in on the team but once I realized we were qualified and I wasn't going to get to celebrate I was a little disappointed."
With the win over Mexico and other results going favorably, the U.S. is qualified for the World Cup. With the U.S. having their ticket punched for Brazil it is unknown what Klinsmann will do in the remaining two matches. Will he continue to play the best eleven from qualifying, tinker with the lineup to see how players work together or even bring in some new players to cap tie them for the future?
One thing is certain, with the next match for the U.S. against Jamaica in Kansas City on October 11th, Besler wants to be in that game. "I think coach knows that it's important to me to hopefully get a chance, it would mean a lot to me to play in front of the home fans."