MLS Combine 2015: USMNT star Matt Besler’s younger brother Nick invited

The 2015 MLS Player Combine is fast approaching, and the younger brother of USMNT star, Matt Besler will be hoping to shine.

Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler was a star at this years World Cup and has been a vital part of the SKC squad since his arrival in 2009, helping them to win the MLS Cup in 2013.

His younger brother Nick will be attending the MLS Player Combine in January and looks set for a bright future too.

Nick Besler, of Notre Dame, was part of the 55-strong list of college seniors that were invited to showcase their talents at the combine.

Don’t miss: MLS Combine 2015: Three Englishmen will be involved

He was the captain for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 2014 campaign, and has been a mainstay in their midfield for three consecutive seasons.

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After the 2013 season he was selected to the All-ACC first team and he has gone from strength to strength.

A leader like his brother, Nick Besler is touted for a big future. And if he is anything like Matt he will be a great player in Major League Soccer for years to come.

Which MLS club should draft Matt Besler?

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2014 MLS Season Review: Houston Dynamo

Eastern Conference Final Position: 8th

Review

They started the season with a flyer, beating New England 4-0 at home but struggled without Brad Davis during the World Cup and never challenged for a playoff spot.

Best Moment

Signing DaMarcus Beasley – World Cup star Beasley joining Houston was a signal that the Dynamo can still attract marquee signings.

Worst Moment

Mark Sherrod’s injury – Just twelve minutes into the D.C United game, Sherrod went down and the forward’s season was over. We’re hoping to see him fully fit in 2015.

Player of the Year

Brad Davis was the main man and the leader of the pack. They missed his influence massively while he was at the World Cup in Brazil.

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Biggest Win

Houston Dynamo 4-0 New England Revolution (March 9 2014)

Biggest Defeat

New York Red Bulls 4-0 Houston Dynamo (April 23 2014)

What to improve for the 2015 season…

Houston needs to strengthen defensively; possibly another midfielder in the draft, someone who can learn from Brad Davis so they can form a core to build around.

Do Spurs really need USMNT and Sounders star DeAndre Yedlin?

When DeAndre Yedlin signed for Tottenham in the summer there were eyebrows raised.

And he has recently revealed that he turned down an offer from Italian giants Roma to play in north London, so he must feel that it is the right choice.

But although Yedlin is a young talent with bags of potential, the Seattle Sounders star will be battling it out for a starting place with three young English talents in Kyle Walker, Kyle Naughton and Eric Dier.

Dier has been operating in the right-back position this season, though he is a natural centre-back and would surely move more central when Yedlin arrives.

While Naughton has been linked with a move away from Spurs over the past few months, so Yedlin’s arrival at the club could spell the end for him, which would make things a bit easier for the 21-year-old.

Yedlin has been sensational this year and took high acclaim when he kept Eden Hazard quiet at the World Cup in the summer.

And although the Premier League would suit his highly energized playing style, he seems to be in the same mould as Kyle Walker.

So do Spurs really need him?

Well, using Walker’s stats from last season, as he is yet to feature this campaign, Yedlin is the better defensive option, and he is just as useful further forward.

Statistic DeAndre Yedlin Kyle Walker
Blocks per game 0.46 0.19
Interceptions per game 2.88 2.19
Clearances per game 3.58 3.27
Pass completion 83 % 82 %
Defensive errors per game 0.04 0.08

As seen in the table above, Yedlin would be the preferred choice in terms of defensive contribution, and with the two being like-for-like as it were, it seems that Yedlin should be first-choice.

However, dislodging Walker will take some doing, as he is a regular England international when fit, and a fan favourite at Spurs.

The stats do come from two different league’s, and Seattle’s dominance in MLS this season will have helped his statistics no end, but his talents are there for all to see and he looks set to take the Premier League by storm when he eventually completes his switch.

Should Yedlin arrive in January, it will certainly be interesting to see if Mauricio Pochettino will throw him straight into the mix, as Kyle Walker is nearing a return to fitness too.

Who would you like to see become Tottenham’s regular right-back?

Will USA win the World Cup before England secure a second?

As of this moment in time, the USMNT are in a better position to win the World Cup than England.

This is mainly down to the infrastructure that Jurgen Klinsmann has installed within US soccer, as well as the regulations within MLS that promote youth development.

There will be many that argue MLS is weaker than the English Premier League, and that the standard of individuals within the English national team are better than the Americans – and they’re probably right.

But from a tactical and physical standpoint, the USA are far better.

In Brazil, England got it horribly wrong, playing three of their four strikers in all three, group games. This may have worked if they had a world-class defensive midfielder – which Roy Hodgson didn’t have at his disposal, and if the wide players could defend – Wayne Rooney couldn’t do it all that well when played on the left.

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USA on the other hand approached each game with caution and confidence in their ability to defend. Their counter-attacking system became a thing of beauty as they pushed heavyweights like Germany, Portugal and Belgium all the way.

Going forward, US soccer has great prospects coming through and the younger players like DeAndre Yedlin and John Anthony Brooks look set to shine from this moment forward.

The blaring difference within English football is the game time given to young prospects. For example, by the time most players turn 21 in England, they have spent most of their professional career out on loan in lower divisions. Whereas, at 20, Yedlin has had ample game time and is looking set to play as an All-Star in MLS next month.

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US soccer will only get stronger and finally has a clear direction in which to head under Jurgen Klinsmann. England, on the other hand, is still unclear if their senior players can handle the pressure on the biggest stage.

Realistically, England has the best league in the world and some world-class talent, but the national side have yet to develop a system and a playing style that can allow them to reach their potential.

US soccer has the resources and the athletes to eventually win a World Cup. We estimate it will take another ten years before they can really challenge, but this looks like a much shorter timescale than the one English football has, even if the FA have set the goal of winning the tournament in 2022.

Will USA win a World Cup before England?

What next for Klinsmann and the USA?

USA fell narrowly to Belgium in the last 16 of the World Cup on Tuesday night, losing 2-1 in extra time but they gave a great account of themselves and earned many plaudits from worldwide supporters.

The USA impressed and exceeded expectations at the World Cup and have now officially announced themselves as an elite footballing nation.

The performance last night typified them as a group. They were unified in defeat and resilient towards the end, with a never-say-die attitude that has to be admired.

Jurgen Klinsmann now has the task of building towards the next World Cup in Russia in 2018, and he has the potential in this squad to succeed there.

DeAndre Yedlin and Julian Green both showed promise and were both a threat against a very strong Belgium side.

Going forward, this ageing USA squad must develop the younger players, which will leave question marks over the international futures of players like DaMarcus Beasley and Kyle Beckerman.

The USA look very strong at the back, and have potential to better the current unit with the likes of John Anthony Brooks and Yedlin coming through the ranks.

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There is a question regarding the excellent Tim Howard and if he will be around for the next World Cup as he will be 39 by the time the tournament in Russia comes around.

There are plenty of emerging American goalkeepers in MLS that now have a chance to prove their quality to Jurgen Klinsmann ahead of the next tournament.

One thing is for sure, the USA can be proud of their team and they have more than proved they are capable of challenging the best on the biggest stage.

Belgium now progress to the quarter-finals on Saturday, where they will play Argentina.

USA progress further than England at the World Cup: What does this mean for US Soccer?

The USA qualified from the ‘Group of Death’ on Thursday and with that excellent achievement progressed into the last 16 of the World Cup for the second successive tournament.

This marks the first time that the USA have gone further than the English at the World Cup, so what does this mean for US Soccer?

Well firstly it means that the World should start taking US soccer seriously. Major League Soccer is constantly improving, and as a result the national team’s standard is too.

USA arguably had a more difficult group than England but looked more than comfortable defending against Ghana, Portugal and Germany.

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Going into the tournament, the majority of international fans wouldn’t have known who Matt Besler and Kyle Beckerman were, but they sure do now after stellar performances from both, as with most of the USA roster.

The success stems from the philosophy set by coach Jurgen Klinsmann who has put emphasis on developing soccer in the US throughout all levels of the game.

A plan has been put in place by Klinsmann to use an experience-filled team in order to set a platform for younger players to adhere and adapt to.

So far the younger players have added to the squad when called upon with John Brooks scoring the crucial winner against Ghana and DeAndre Yedlin causing problems off the bench in the last two games.

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England lack direction at the moment and therefore USA are in a better position going forward.

The work of Jurgen Klinsmann is somewhat going unnoticed on a global scale and that can mask the master plan he is conjuring stateside, with his role in US soccer being seen as more than just a coaching role, but also as a head of soccer development.

As for England, there is no way of knowing where their standard will be come the next World Cup in Russia.

Whereas the USA have promise going forward and with the ever-expanding MLS behind them, the depth of US soccer will only increase.

The current crop are grinding out great results and look to be in excellent shape going forward, and as such have looked a far better footballing nation than England in Brazil.

What can the USMNT expect from Portugal?

The USMNT play Portugal in Manaus on Sunday night in a game which could settle the second qualifying spot in Group G.

On paper this Portugal team is superior to USA, but recent performances leave the USA with a very strong chance of winning.

The USA go into the game coming off the back of a resolute performance in a 2-1 win against Ghana, while the Portuguese were sub-standard against the Germans, and were thumped 4-0.

Portugal will be without Pepe who is suspended after picking up a red card in the defeat to Germany, and will be significantly weaker defensively.

Cristiano Ronaldo is also a major doubt as he is struggling to overcome a knee injury and his World Cup could be over.

The Ballon d’Or winner has been suffering with injuries to his knee and thigh for some time now and has been told to rest up for at least 2 months.

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However, the USA are missing a big name too in Jozy Altidore, another who’s World Cup could be over after he pulled up in the game against Ghana with a hamstring injury just 20 minutes in.

Portugal are likely to still play with a 4-3-3, whether Ronaldo plays or not, in a system that will provide width and freedom for their wide men.

We expect that Portugal will dominate possession with the likes of Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles in midfield. But with the likes of Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones protecting the back four, the USA are more than capable of suppressing the Portuguese advances.

Key Man: Nani

Should Ronaldo not be able to play, Nani will need to step up and perform. The Manchester United man has had one of his worst seasons in England this year, and Portugal will hope he can lead them to victory.

Prediction: USA 2- 1 Portugal

We believe USA is more than capable of beating this Portugal side if they perform as they did against Ghana, but they will have to work hard to do so. Another strong defensive performance is needed to win here and a victory will seal their place in the next round.

Reaction to the USA’s vital World Cup win against Ghana

USA beat Ghana 2-1 last night in one of the best defensive performances of the World Cup so far.

USA looked resolute in defence and seemed destined for the three points from the first whistle as Clint Dempsey netted the fifth fastest goal in World Cup history.

John Anthony Brooks was the standout performer for the Stars and Stripes and the winning goal was deserved following a brilliant defensive performance after coming on at halftime..

Calls will be made for him to start, but should Matt Besler recover for the Portugal game, it’s hard to see Jurgen Klinsmann changing the back four.

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However, the win was not without casualties, as Jozy Altidore limped off little after 20 minutes of the game with a hamstring injury that looks to have ended his World Cup.

Aron Johannsson, who deputised for Altidore, is not to the same standard and doesn’t fit the USA game plan, so should Altidore not be able to continue, surely a change in tactics will be necessary.

With a midfield that was basically a flat four, Jermaine Jones thrived. The 32 year-old was immense and gave everything to the cause, even though he was out of position on the left.

A special mention must also go to Kyle Beckerman who rallied his teammates and broke up play when called upon. He will be key if the USA is to beat Portugal.

The USA now go into the Portugal game on Sunday full of confidence and Portugal are coming off the back of a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Germany.

Everything is going to plan for the USMNT. The game on Sunday is being seen as the battle for second place in Group G and a win on Sunday will surely see them into the last 16.

USMNT gather momentum going into the World Cup

USA has now won all three of their warm up games. They were, however, less than impressive in the opening two of their ‘send-off’ series.

But they changed their performance last night as Jurgen Klinsmann ditched the diamond and flooded midfield.

The structure was simply genius as it allowed Alejandro Bedoya and Clint Dempsey freedom on counter attacks.

There are things we need to look out for at the World Cup, assuming that Klinsmann won’t change this current team too much.

1. Zonal Marking – ditch it.

Set pieces are the worst way to concede a goal, as you have plenty of time to set yourself up and zonal marking is the greatest liability.

The system allows players to get complacent because you rely on each other, whereas, in a man-marking system everyone has a job.

We hope he doesn’t use it in Brazil against the likes of Germany who will punish the team from corners otherwise.

2. Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones are a great insurance plan.

When you risk everything on a fast-paced counter attack you have to take precautions defensively.

Jones and Beckerman provide that cover so that the fullbacks, Fabian Johnson and DaMarcus Beasley can bomb on.

Klinsmann has found an answer to his midfield issue, and the USMNT have a realistic chance of success at the tournament.

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3. Michael Bradley is ready to shine.

Based on what we have seen in the three warm up games, Michael Bradley will have a great World Cup.

He is one of the first names on the USMNT team sheet and he provides a range of passes that can trouble any defence.

Ghana, Germany and Portugal better have done their homework because Bradley could hurt them.

4. Bedoya or Zusi?

We like Bedoya and he had another good game last night. But we have cause to believe Graham Zusi would be a better choice in terms of structure.

He is more than capable of joining in on the counter attack and he can also pick out a pass to perfection.

But unlike Bedoya, Zusi gives you a bit more defensively and we think he should start instead. It is likely that Bedoya will play though because we cannot see Klinsmann changing his team too much now.

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5. Jozy Altidore can score goals.

It’s an extreme long shot but who’s to say he can’t win the Golden Boot? Although this is extremly unlikely, he did give us cause for optimism with a well-taken brace and lead’s a side with goals in it.

Granted the first goal was a tap-in and had he missed it, he should have retired, but his second cannot be questioned.

The confidence he showed while in possession was great to see and we think the USA have a great platform to attack with him as their outlet alongside Dempsey.

The USMNT will now play Belgium in a behind closed doors match on Thursday but we expect the team will stay much the same regardless of what happens there.

USA win again but there are still major problems within the set-up

The USA beat Turkey 2-1 on Sunday night, setting the benchmark for upcoming performances, however Jurgen Klinsmann still doesn’t know his best team.

We can assume he will play the diamond formation, having used it in both warm-up games so far, but they are left open at the back and better teams like Germany and Portugal will tear them apart.

We take a look at the areas that need more attention:

1. Left back.

Klinsmann has used DaMarcus Beasley and Timothy Chandler so far and both have looked questionable at best.

Klinsmann isn’t budging on moving Fabian Johnson from right back, even though Chandler and Johnson prefer the opposite flanks.

They need to find a solution at left back and quick, or hope that Chandler or Beasley are up for the challenge come June 16.

2. Should Jozy Altidore lead the line?

Altidore looked very good but the only thing missing was a goal.

He hasn’t scored a goal since the 4th December so fans will be hoping he finds the net before the big opener against Ghana.

He used his strength throughout and was unlucky to have a goal disallowed for a push on the goalkeeper.

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3. Julian Green – too early?

The 18-year-old has only had one cap prior to his World Cup call up, and has yet to win over the USMNT fans.

Coming on against Turkey, he failed to make a valid contribution and the omission of Landon Donovan will look even worse to the USMNT faithful.

4. Portugal have Ronaldo, but the USA have Bradley.

We’re not going to begin to compare the two players, but they do mean a lot to their respective nations hopes at the World Cup.

Bradley is the pivotal player for the US and any hopes of them progressing out of the group lie solely on his ability to supply the goals, as he did last night. We expect him to have a great World Cup, although he will need a good supporting cast in front.

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5. Geoff Cameron, first choice centre-half?

Cameron has only played one game at centre back domestically this year, yet he looks set to play there at the World Cup.

Unless Klinsmann knows something we all don’t, we can’t understand the logic behind his defensive combinations. He has a right back playing left back, a left back playing right back, and another right back playing centre back!

If Cameron does start in the heart of defence, where does that leave natural defenders Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez?