Matt Besler earned both All-America and Academic All-America honors with the Irish.

Sporting KC Defender Matt Besler Honored To Be An All-Star

July 27, 2011

By Tod Palmer
Kansas City Star

There have been a few awkward moments for Matt Besler in the run-up to tonight’s MLS All-Star Game.

Besler, 24, was voted onto the team by a landslide in fans’ text voting and will be one of two Sporting Kansas City players — forward Omar Bravo was a commissioner’s pick — lining up against English Premier League powerhouse Manchester United in Harrison, N.J.

But it’s not the game that has Besler, a defender who graduated from Blue Valley West and played at Notre Dame, feeling a bit starstruck since landing Sunday in New York. It’s his teammates, including Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham and New York Red Bulls forward Thierry Henry, who are among the world’s most recognizable players.

“I felt awkward shaking hands with Beckham,” Besler said. “I didn’t know what to call him. Nobody calls him David, so I was going to go with Beckham or `Becks,’ but I didn’t feel like I knew him well enough to use a nickname.”

Instead, Besler opted for none of the above during a tongue-twisted introduction with Beckham, a 36-year-old Englishman.

“I think I might have said, `Nice to meet you, man,’ ” Besler said. “I went with `man.’ I think I blew it.”

One thing Besler hasn’t blown is the chance to make a mark with his hometown team as his All-Star inclusion attests.

“It’s a very big honor in the league, and I feel lucky to be named one of the All-Stars,” he said. “I definitely couldn’t have imagined this as a kid growing up. I always dreamed that one day I could be a professional soccer player, but you don’t really think about All-Star Games and stuff like that.”

Along with the rest of the MLS All-Stars, Besler attempted penalty kicks in Times Square and dined Monday at the house of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He was seated next to Ryan Giggs, a midfielder with 747 appearances for Manchester United, and defender Nemanja Vidic, a finalist as the EPL’s player of the year.

“Sitting right next to them and having a conversation — that part was a little surreal, but at the same time it gets me excited,” Besler said. “It hasn’t all really sunk in yet, but I’m sure when I have a chance to sit back and think about it all this will seem unbelievable.”

Bravo has more international experience, but was just as eager to face the Red Devils, who beat the MLS All-Stars 5-2 in last year’s matchup.

“It is an honor to face Manchester United, considering their popularity and prestige,” said Bravo, a 31-year-old striker from Mexico. “It will surely be a great experience.”

MLS All-Star Game
-WHAT: MLS All-Stars vs. Manchester United
-WHEN/WHERE: 8:30 p.m. (ET) tonight at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.

MLS All-Stars roster

Player – Team
GK Tally Hall – Houston
GK Faryd Mondragon – Philadelphia
GK Kasey Keller – Seattle
D Corey Ashe – Houston
D Matt Besler – Sporting KC
D Geoff Cameron – Houston
D Bobby Convey – San Jose
D Sean Franklin – LA Galaxy
D Jamison Olave – Real Salt Lake
D Heath Pearce – Chivas USA
D Tim Ream – New York
M Kyle Beckerman – Real Salt Lake
M David Beckham – LA Galaxy
M Brad Davis – Houston
M Jack Jewsbury – Portland
M Shalrie Joseph – New England
M Nick LaBrocca – Chivas USA
F Juan Agudelo – New York
F Omar Bravo – Sporting KC
F Omar Cummings – Colorado
F Thierry Henry – New York
F Chris Wondolowski – San Jose

Manchester United roster

Player – Nationality
GK Ben Amos – England
GK David de Gea – Spain
GK Andres Lindegaard – Denmark
D Patrice Evra – France
D Rio Ferdinand – England
D Fabio da Silva – Brazil
D Rafael da Silva – Brazil
D Jonny Evans – No. Ireland
D Phil Jones – England
D Chris Smalling – England
D Nemanja Vidic – Serbia
M Anderson – Brazil
M Ryan Giggs – Wales
M Michael Carrick – England
M Tom Cleverley – England
M Nani – Portugal
M Gabriel Obertan – France
M Ji-Sung Park – South Korea
F Michael Owen – England
F Dimitar Berbatov – Bulgaria
F Javier Hernandez – Mexico
F Federico Macheda – Italy
F Wayne Rooney – England
F Danny Welbeck – England/Ghana