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BEST AMERICAN HERO 

Matt Besler

Critics' Choice

There's no denying that 2013 was the year that barges of local media ink were devoted to how Kansas City is, like, seriously and breathlessly in love with soccer. We were guilty of it, too, when we profiled Matt Besler, local boy turned Sporting KC star. But more than just a local phenomenon, Besler joined the U.S. Men's National Team, which demanded to be taken seriously this year by reeling off a record 12 straight wins. After debuting in January with the United States against Canada, Besler played against Mexico, Germany, Jamaica, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama. The New York Times even profiled him with the headline, "Besler Elbows His Way Onto U.S. Team." He also elbowed his way into our hearts.

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