U.S. hopes defensive duo is dynamic 

May, 28, 2013

Had things gone according to plan back in March, Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez would never have seen the field together against Mexico at Estadio Azteca.

Gonzalez, of course, had started the U.S. national team's two previous World Cup qualifiers, so his inclusion against El Tri was not unexpected.

Besler's, on the other hand, was.

Before the lineups were announced an hour before kickoff, the U.S. had been able to keep news of Clarence Goodson's hamstring strain under wraps. Even when whispers of a late scratch spread though the press box, Maurice Edu, a midfielder with some experience playing as a center back, was the favorite to slide into Goodson's spot next to Gonzalez. So when U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann went with Besler -- with just one international cap to his credit -- to shut down Chicharito, Andres Guardado, Giovani Dos Santos and the rest of Mexico's high-powered attack, many observers wondered whether Besler was up to the assignment.

There were no doubts 90 minutes later. Not only had the Gonzalez-Besler partnership helped the U.S. hold Mexico to a scoreless draw, but the chemistry between the pair was obvious.

Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.