Updates from Sunday, June 22
US Soccer confirmed Matt Besler's inclusion in the startling lineup for today's match vs. Portugal:
Updates from Thursday, June 19
US Soccer announced Matt Besler's status for the team's upcoming match:
Updates from Tuesday, June 17
The United States has updated Matt Besler's status following his exit from the match against Ghana with a hamstring injury (via Evan Doherty of Yahoo Sports):
Jurgen Klinsmann also spoke about Besler's condition with Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated:
Klinsmann: Besler is "no problem" for Portugal. On Altidore: we'll see how he reacts over next couple days to hamstring.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) June 17, 2014
Hamstrings 2, United States 1.
While it took the Americans less than a minute to score in their World Cup opener against Ghana, they also lost two of their most important players to hamstring injuries in the first 45 minutes. The first was Jozy Altidore, and the second was center-back Matt Besler.
Besler, the team's best center-back who had formed an increasingly successful pairing with Geoff Cameron, was injured late in the first half and replaced by John Brooks to start the second, per the team's official Twitter feed:
Franco Panizo of MLSsoccer.com reported the diagnosis for Besler:
Correction on earlier tweet: Besler out with tightness in his hamstring, not Brooks.— Franco Panizo (@FrancoPanizo) June 16, 2014
As ESPN's Paul Carr noted, this marks the first competitive appearance for the 21-year-old German-born youngster:
John Brooks in for Matt Besler. First competitive game for Brooks, who is now officially cap-tied.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) June 16, 2014
At first, it looked extremely dangerous for the Yanks. Despite not scoring, Ghana looked threatening in the first half, and the Americans don't have a lot of depth at center-back. Brooks, although loaded with potential, is inexperienced, and Omar Gonzalez has been terrible as of late.
Fox Sports' Kyle McCarthy and Sports Illustrated's George Dohrmann put it simply:
Brooks for Besler is a massive blow for #USMNT.— Kyle McCarthy (@kylejmccarthy) June 16, 2014
JAB not ready for this.— George Dohrmann (@georgedohrmann) June 16, 2014
It was Brooks who turned into the hero, though. His header goal in the 86th minute, which propelled the United States to a 2-1 win, will undoubtedly go down as one of the most memorable moments in the team's history.
Still getting back Besler in six days for a crucial match against Portugal will be integral. The Americans are in good shape after grabbing three points, but advancing to the knockout stages will still be tough without him.
That said, Brooks' competitive debut certainly eased some concerns if Besler is sidelined for longer.