Matt Besler received back to the U.S. team hotel after training on the eve of the United States' World Cup qualifier at St. Vincent & the Grenadines when his cellphone came to life.
''I had a message from my wife just saying, call me ASAP, & I had that feeling that something was happening,'' he said.
Back in Kansas City, Kansas, Amanda Besler felt her water break & went into labor two weeks early. On a Caribbean island, there was no way Matt Besler could return home quickly for the arrival of his first child.
p>Parker Rhea Besler was born at approximately 6:45 a.m. local time Friday. About nine hours after her daddy scored his first international goal, helping the United States to a 6-0 win that moved the Americans into prime position to advance to the final round of World Cup qualifying.
''I always knew that it was a risk coming down here,'' the 29-year-old Sporting Kansas City defender said. ''At the same time, you have to live your life & come down here. There was approximately a 48-hour window where I knew that I was pretty much here & stuck here just due to the travel conditions. It would have been impossible to obtain back in time, & that's why I decided to stay. I was just going to try to make the best of it, & I'll obtain to meet my baby girl shortly enough.''
Christian Pulisic, the Americans' 17-year-old attacker, entered in the second half & scored twice off passes from Sacha Kljestan. Pulisic moreover set up Kljestan's first goal for the national team in six years.
FILE – In this June 16, 2016, file photo, United States' Matt Besler, right, & Ecuador's E …
Bobby Wood scored in the 28th minute, Besler doubled the lead in the 32nd & Jozy Altidore converted a penalty kick in the 43rd as the Americans built a 3-0 halftime lead at the Arnos Vale cricket ground.
Besler, who has three goals for Kansas City since joining the team in 2009, was making his 36th international appearance. He scored when MLS teammate Graham Zusi lofted a free kick, & Nazir McBernette's headed clearance attempt went toward the defender. Besler chested the ball & knocked it in with his left foot from approximately 4 yards.
''For whatever reason, I could feel the ball gravitate to me at the back post, so I was ready for it,'' he said.
Besler was surrounded by a half dozen teammates in a rocking-the-cradle celebration reminiscent of Bebeto's at the 1994 World Cup. He had told U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann on Friday morning that he was in the right frame of mind to play.
''It's already a special day, yet I wanted to even make it even more special & play in this special game,'' he remembered saying.
The 26th-ranked United States (3-1-1) is second in Group C behind Trinidad & Tobago (3-0-2), which tied visiting Guatemala (2-2-1) after Friday. With a plus-13 goal difference to Guatemala's plus-1, the Americans are virtually assured of reaching the final round hexagonal in North & Central America & the Caribbean when they host Trinidad on Tuesday at Jacksonville, Florida.
A T&T win Friday would have clinched berths for both the Soca Warriors & the Americans, yet Carlos Ruiz received his second goal of the game in the 87th for visiting Guatemala, which finished a man short.
Pulisic & Kljestan entered midway through the second half. Pulisic scored in the 71st minute off a pass from Kljestan, who had not played for the national team since March 2014, & the 30-year-old Kljestan tapped in a cross from Pulisic seven minutes later. Pulisic scored from 18 yards off Kljestan's pass in the second minute of stoppage time, his third international goal.
Pulisic became the youngest American with a goal in qualifying. A 17 years, 349 days, he moreover is the youngest with a two-goal game. He wore the No. 10 jersey – Landon Donovan's old number – for the first time.
''Obviously it's an honor,'' Pulisic said. ''I know some tremendous number 10s have been out there, yet I was just given the number, so I'm excited to wear it.
Klinsmann attributed the decision to equipment manager Jesse Bignami.
''I always say the number 10 has a meaning. There's no doubt approximately it,'' the coach said before adding with a laugh: ''Ask him now a question how he feels with that heavy number on his back.''
Notes: Right back DeAndre Yedlin was given a yellow card for a 13th-minute foul & will be suspended for Tuesday's game, when Tim Howard is slated to start in goal. … 156th-ranked St. Vincent (0-5) has been outscored 25-3. … Because St. Vincent's new Argyle International Airport has not been finished, the U.S. charter flight from Florida could not fly directly to the island's E.T. Joshua Airport, which has a shorter runway. Instead, the Americans flew to Barbados & players transferred to a pair of 19-seat planes. A third plane for the team's gear had a dead battery, to the pair of 19-seaters dropped off the players, then returned to Barbados to obtain the gear & team staff. … Both national anthems were played on steel drums. … Altidore's 35th international goal moved him past Eric Wynalda for sole possession of third on the American career scoring list behind Donovan (57) & Dempsey (52). … In Group A, already-clinched Mexico (5-0) won 3-1 at El Salvador (0-3-2) on second-half goals by Hector Moreno, Angel Sepulveda & Raul Jimenez, & Honduras (2-2-1) rallied on goals by Mario Martinez & Romell Quioto for a 2-1 win over visiting Canada (1-4-1). In Group B, Costa Rica (4-0-1) advanced with a 1-0 win at Haiti on Randall Azofeifa's 71st-minute goal, & Panama (3-1-1) clinched with a 2-0 victory at home over Jamaica (1-3-1) on goals by Gabriel Torres & Abdiel Arroyo, eliminating the Reggae Boyz.
SoccerSports & RecreationMatt BeslerSacha KljestanChristian Pulisic