June 19, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Former University of Notre Dame soccer All-American Matt Besler (`09) has played a key role in helping the United States Senior National Team surge to the top of the CONCACAF Hexagonal standings with four matches left in qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The U.S. won all three of its June qualifying contests to bring its record to 4-1-1 (13 points) for the Hexagonal round. Costa Rica (3-1-2, 11 points) currently is in second place followed by Mexico (1-0-5, 8 points) Honduras (2-3-1, 7 points), Panama (1-2-3, 6 points) and Jamaica (0-4-2, 2 points). The top three finishers qualify directly to the World Cup in Brazil.
Besler, a central defender, has played every minute in each of the last four World Cup qualifying matches and the U.S. has surrendered just one goal in that time. His first action in a qualifier occurred during March's scoreless draw against Mexico at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. The point earned with the draw signified just the second time in 15 tries that the U.S. earned a point in World Cup qualifying on Mexican soil.
The June qualifying stretch began with a 2-1 win at Jamaica and was followed with home victories over Panama (2-0) and Honduras (1-0). Each country's final four matches of Hexagonal play will take place in September and October.
Besler is the first former Notre Dame player to earn a cap in a World Cup qualifier for any nation. His overall cap total with the U.S. Senior National Team stands at seven, which includes a 90-minute effort in a 4-3 friendly win over Germany earlier this month. The U.S. is 4-0-2 with Besler in the starting lineup.
"Matt has been one of the steadiest players on the U.S. squad during these last three World Cup qualifiers," said Notre Dame head coach Bobby Clark. "Apart from one turnover, he was superb in the last game against Honduras. His reading of the game and his calm presence has been fantastic. Hopefully the U.S. goes on and qualifies for Brazil and it would be great if we could have one of our former players on the squad."
Besler plays professionally for Sporting Kansas City and was voted the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year. He also was an MLS All-Star in 2011.
At Notre Dame, Besler played in 90 matches, including 73 starts, from 2005-08 and tallied five goals and seven assists. He earned first team All-America and first team Academic All-America honors as a senior. Besler was a three-time all-BIG EAST honoree and was named the 2008 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Scholar-Athlete of the Year.