Oct. 19, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — A member of the University of Notre Dame men’s soccer team’s 2013 NCAA College Cup roster, 2013 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) third team All-American Grant Van De Casteele (’13) is no stranger to championship hardware.
Van De Casteele added a United Soccer League (USL) crown to his resume last Friday when the Rochester Rhinos defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy II 2-1 in the USL championship final at Sahlen’s Stadium in Rochester, New York. The former Notre Dame standout played all 120 minutes of the championship match on the Rochester back line, helping to limit the Galaxy II to 10 total shots (six shots on goal).
Van De Casteele appeared in 23 regular season matches for the Rhinos (19 starts), scoring two goals on five total shots on frame. He ultimately started all three postseason matches as a defender on the Rochester side, serving as a member of clean sheet victories over the New York Red Bulls II (2-0 on Oct. 3) and the Louisville City FC (1-0 on Oct. 10).
Van De Casteele was one of numerous former Notre Dame players to compete in professional soccer during the 2015 season, with Irish ties extending to the MLS, USL and NPSL. Here is what your other favorite Notre Dame stars of the past have been up to on the pro circuit.
Matt Besler (’09) has made 30 starts as team captain for Sporting Kansas City during the 2015 MLS slate, logging three assists on the team’s back line in regular season play. Sporting KC has two regular season matches remaining and currently sits sixth in the Western Conference standings, maintaining a one-point advantage over the San Jose Earthquakes for the conference’s final MLS Cup playoff spot. Besler was also a member of the Sporting KC roster that claimed the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Sept. 30 at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Nick Besler (’15) made his professional debut with the Portland Timbers 2 of the USL after being drafted fifth overall in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft by the organization’s MLS parent club. Besler appeared in 25 matches for T2, notching 22 starts during his rookie campaign. Besler logged 15 total shot attempts over the course of the season.
Leon Brown (’14) completed his rookie season as a member of the USL’s Real Monarchs SLC. Brown saw action in nine contests with the Real Monarchs, attempting one shot on goal.
Jeb Brovsky (’11) competed in 15 matches with New York City FC of the MLS in 2015, notching a total of 12 starts. Brovsky entered the point column with one assist during the regular season.
Bright Dike (’09) played in two matches as a reserve for Toronto FC at the start of the 2015 MLS regular season. Dike registered an assist in his first appearance of the campaign in March against Real Salt Lake.
Bilal Duckett (’11) took the field 26 times for Charlotte of the USL this past season, making 25 starts on the Independence back line. Duckett finished the year with one goal from his defender position in Charlotte, logging over 2,100 minutes of game action.
Ryan Finley (’13) earned 23 match appearances with the Charlotte Independence, taking the field 12 times as a starter during the regular season. Finley recorded eight goals, finishing a perfect 2-for-2 on penalty kick attempts, and added one assist on offense, notching 25 shots on goal.
Brendan King (’12) saw action in 23 contests with the USL’s Austin Aztex, and was part of the starting lineup on 10 different occasions. King finished 2015 with one goal, logging 15 total shot attempts.
Luke Mishu (’14) made a pair of starts for the MLS’ D.C. United during his rookie professional season, spending the bulk of the year with the Richmond Kickers of the USL. Mishu earned 11 starts at Richmond, logging one assist from his defender position.
Aaron Maund (’12) played in 21 matches with Real Salt Lake during the 2015 MLS regular season, notching 20 starts. Maund recorded his first career MLS goal on Aug. 1 against D.C. United, and later added an assist against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sept. 19.
Justin Morrow (’10) has appeared in 31 games for Toronto FC, notching 30 starts, and will be competing in the 2015 MLS Cup playoffs that begin on Oct. 28. Morrow has scored two goals on only four total shot on goal attempts from the Toronto FC back line, and has added two assists during the regular season league slate.
Andrew O’Malley (’14) took the field with the New York Cosmos B of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), winners of the 2015 NPSL Northeast Region championship.
Dillon Powers (’13) logged 30 appearances and 23 starts prior to the final two regular season contests of the year with the Colorado Rapids. Powers has tallied two goals and a team-high six assists from his midfield post.
Harrison Shipp (’14) competed in his second straight MLS Homegrown Game during the league’s all-star festivities in July as a representative of the Chicago Fire. Shipp has logged 32 match appearances with the Fire during the regular season, including 28 starts, scoring three goals while adding a team and career-high eight assists.
Michael Thomas (’10) made 27 starts as a defender for the Oklahoma City Energy FC of the USL during the 2015 regular season, missing only one match on the year. The Energy registered 10 team shutouts with Thomas in the lineup, while he added two goals and four assists (eight points) on the offensive end.
— Tony Jones, Athletics Communications Assistant