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World Cup 2014 Qualifying: Zusi and Besler shine as the United States inches closer to Brazil

Five matches, four wins and great opportunities for Graham Zusi and Matt Besler to become mainstays in the United States' lineup.


Matt Besler started four matches and was an anchor in the defense of the United States. Graham Zusi started four matches and was a playmaker with two assists and was an overall asset to the United States attack.

These two players, who were barely making noise on their club roster at Sporting Kansas City at the last World Cup, are about to become two fixtures in the 2014 World Cup lineup.

Matt Besler has been the most consistent centerback the United States has had since he came on to the national team and started getting actual minutes earlier this year. His pairing with Omar Gonzales in the central defense led to some ugly goals early but recently they have better chemistry and their defense has improved. Matt Besler has been attributed with more success than Gonzales but the centerback combination of the two may be the World Cup defense.

Matt Besler: At the end of the first half, Besler had an ugly turnover which, if not for a terrific Howard save, would have given Honduras a lead. In the second half, Besler was remarkable and made a series of defensive plays that kept Honduras off the scoreboard. He is by far the best American central defender right now. Rating: 6.5

-Brian Sciaretta, New York Times

The best central defender in the United States is no small feat. However Besler has deserved this praise. His angles to cutting off chances in the box have been great, his chemistry with the rest of the back line is improving and he is the anchor to the United States' defense.

On the other side of the pitch Graham Zusi has been a big asset to the United States attack. In the four matches he played in (he was suspended for the Panama match due to yellow card accumulation), he contributed two assists and was a big part in two more. He was a decent playmaker and the Zusi-Altidore combination that happend twice has people intrigued as to the future of this attack.

Graham Zusi: Fresh after serving a one-game suspension, Zusi was the best U.S. player against Honduras. He was involved in most of the dangerous chances, including laying the ball off to Fabian Johnson on the winning play leading to Altidore’s goal. It is not only Zusi’s crossing where he is effective; he reads the game well and is one of the better defending American midfielders. Rating: 7.5 and Man of the Match

-Brian Sciaretta, New York Times

It's hard to imagine how far these two Sporting Kansas City players have come in the past couple of years. From getting substitution minutes or camp minutes early to being consistent starters and likely starters at the 2014 World Cup it's been great to see these two players blossom.

The United States is getting closer and closer to clinching a berth in Brazil. They will most likely do it against Mexico in Columbus but a setback could offer a great chance for Kansas City. The final home qualifier will be against Jamaica in Kansas City could see the United States clinch a World Cup berth with two of Kansas City's boys leading the way.