July 27, 2017 by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A pair of University of Notre Dame men’s soccer alumni were on hand Wednesday night as the United States Men’s National Team celebrated victory after the final match of the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Former Irish standouts Matt Besler and Justin Morrow each played a key role in the defensive corps during a 5-0-1 USMNT campaign that concluded with a 2-1 win over Jamaica in the tournament final, the sixth Gold Cup triumph for the U.S. since 1991.
Besler earned starts in four of the six USMNT matches during the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, including group play against Panama on July 8 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, and Nicaragua on July 15 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, a semifinal against Costa Rica on July 22 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, and the championship match against Jamaica on Wednesday. The USMNT conceded a mere two goals in Besler’s total minutes on the pitch, during a 1-1 draw to open the group stage against Panama and an equalizer for Jamaica in the final.
USMNT defender Matt Besler
A veteran of 44 caps with the full U.S. squad, Besler earned his second Gold Cup title after playing for the victorious American side in 2013. The Sporting KC captain previously appeared for the U.S. this season in an international friendly against Ghana, a 2-1 USMNT win, on July 1 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut.
Morrow made his return to the full USMNT for the first time in four years with a pair of starts during the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, finding the top XI on the back line in group play against Martinique on July 12 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, and a quarterfinal match with El Salvador on July 19 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Morrow was part of a 2-0 clean sheet victory for the U.S. in the El Salvador contest, drawing five total fouls in the match.
USMNT defender Justin Morrow
The two caps in Morrow’s first Gold Cup campaign pushed his career total appearances with the USMNT to three. The standout defender from Toronto FC made his international debut on Jan. 29, 2013 in a 0-0 draw against Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men’s soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.