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Rising Star: Kansas City's Matt Besler
by Bryan Alvarez, October 16th, 2009 7AM



[MLS] Matt Besler grew up in the Kansas City area rooting for the Kansas City Wizards. Now instead of sitting in stands on weekends, Besler takes to the field as a starting defender for his favorite team. Get to know the 22-year-old in this profile by Soccer America's Bryan Alvarez that covers on and off-field experiences.

(Kansas City Wizards)

POSITION: Defender
AGE: 22
HOMETOWN: Overland Park, Kan.
COLLEGE: Notre Dame

STARTING OUT: My parents signed me up for soccer when I was 5 or 6 years old. It was the thing to do. I played rec soccer with my school. None of them had ever played before.
EARLY SOCCER MEMORY: When I was in a tournament, I got to take a corner kick for us. I was about 7 years old. It might have been windy. I kicked it and went into the goal!
FIRST CLEATS: I'm not sure. I was the oldest and I have two younger brothers. They had it worse than me. They got all my hand-me-downs. Mine were probably a used pair. I didn't start playing Premier until about 5th or 6th grade.
CURRENT CLEATS: Adidas Predators
OTHER SPORTS: I played baseball up to high school. I also played basketball up to my sophomore year in high school. I injured my ankle in basketball that year. I didn't want it to come in the way of soccer so I stopped playing.

Kansas City Chiefs, Kansas State Wildcats football and Notre Dame football.
FAVORITE PLAYER: I idolized Michael Jordan growing up. I liked Barry Sanders, too.
FAVORITE MOVIES: "Remember the Titans."
FAVORITE ACTRESS: Jennifer Anniston and Jessica Biel
FAVORITE TV SHOW: "ESPN SportsCenter," "Home Improvement."

I'm still at the home I grew up in. Me and another teammate are looking for apartments.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: I think it's the biggest individual award for a first year player. But, to be honest, I haven't thought about it too much. A lot of guys are making an impact. This year has a pretty good class of players. I could see it going to someone whose team is doing the best.
MLS EXPERIENCE: It's gone well overall. When I came to the league, I didn't expect a lot of playing time. I'm grateful for the starts and all the minutes. There have been a lot of ups and downs this year. I'm just trying to adjust. I try not to get too high or get too low.

COLLEGE: I'd rate it as very good. Notre Dame is one of the better programs in the country, on and off the field. Coach Bobby Clark does a good job making the environment competitive and professional. Notre Dame did a good job preparing me for the pros. I'd rate it an 8 or 9. It would have been a 10 if we made a final or something.
MOST INFLUENTIAL COACH: That's tough to say. Each coach offers something different. You take a bit from each coach. They've all helped me be the player that I am. My club coach, Gareth Hughes, coached me for the longest amount of time.
MEMORABLE COACHING ADVICE (from youth coach): Gareth always told me to play as simple as you can. Coach Clark was big on enjoying the game. I'm starting to take a lot from my new coach, Peter Vermes.

I like to get outside. I enjoy the weather. I like to lay by the pool, go fishing and playing golf.
MUSIC: I like everything. Country is my go-to.
READING: I like to catch up on the newspaper. I'm a big sports section guy. I also like Dan Brown books and best sellers.
VACATION: The best place I've been is Italy. I went to Rome and Milan. I like to ski. So, I like snow skiing in Colorado.
FAMOUS PEOPLE YOU'D INVITE TO DINNER: Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Bill Gates.


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