In 2018, Nick Besler started 15 matches, and appeared in 22 throughout the MLS season. Though he may have had criticism from his on field play, most of those critics could agree that this was due to Besler playing mostly out of position.
What we saw from Besler was really a supplemental role. A utility player fIlling in for whoever and where needed in the defensive half. These slots were mostly in his unpreferred CB position and rarely at his CDM.
The criticism comes from what essentially could be seen as a lack of experience and awareness at the professional level along the back line. This doesn't come without warrant. Very important goals were definitely given up by RSL because Besler was beat by the attacking players or his marking was way off.
Where the criticism weened off was when we got to see his play in his preferred defensive midfield role. He looked and played much more comfortably, and even scored on one of his 2 shots on goal from this position.
Granted, getting minutes with the 2018 roster in the central part of the field was a lot harder than a younger player would want it to be with the depth and experience there, but with the Petke youth experience only just now coming into its own Besler has a great opportunity to show the league what he's made of.
Local media has come around at the end of 2018 to be in full support of Besler in a RSL uniform. This next season should be nothing less than a breakout year for the 25-year-old American.