Nick Besler and the Irish will face North Carolina on Sunday and his brother Matt will suit up for Team USA on Friday at Costa Rica.

Irish Items: Top-Ranked Tar Heels Coming To Town

Sep 4, 2013

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Whenever No. 1 comes to town it’s usually a big deal. Combine that with the hosts being No. 4 and the game being the first Atlantic Coast Conference contest for any sport at Notre Dame and you have the makings for a very special afternoon. It all will take place Sunday at Alumni Stadium when the Fighting Irish men’s soccer team takes on North Carolina at noon (ET).

The Tar Heels are ranked No. 1 in this week’s National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll, while the Irish are No. 4 and fresh off winning the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic for the second straight season. This will be the first-ever meeting between Notre Dame and North Carolina in men’s soccer.

Festivities around Alumni Stadium will begin at 10 a.m. (ET) when tailgating is open to fans in the Gold Lot (parking lot immediately south of Alumni Stadium) until noon. The rules that apply for tailgating at home football games will be enforced on Sunday. Sunny 101.5 FM will be broadcasting live from 10 a.m. to noon at the Gold Lot and fans can enter a drawing to win free Fighting Irish men’s and women’s soccer tickets.

The first 500 fans at the game will receive a free Notre Dame soccer ACC t-shirt. Free McDonald’s breakfast will be available for Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s/Holy Cross students.

To purchase tickets for Sunday’s match, call the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office at (574) 631-7356, visit or stop by the ticket office windows during normal business hours (9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday). Tickets also can be purchased Sunday at Alumni Stadium.

If for some reason you are unable to make it to Alumni Stadium on Sunday, the match can be seen live on ESPNU. Former Notre Dame women’s soccer All-American Kate Markgraf (’98), a two-time Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion, will be the analyst.

Matt Besler and the U.S. Continue World Cup Qualifying on Friday
Speaking of former Fighting Irish All-Americans, Matt Besler (’09) and the United States Men’s National Team will resume its pursuit for a spot at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil when the squad plays at Costa Rica on Friday. The match is slated for 10 p.m. (ET) and can be seen on beIN SPORT.

Besler has played a key role in helping the U.S. surge to the top of the CONCACAF Hexagonal standings with four matches left in qualifying. The U.S. will play host to Mexico on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET on ESPN) and then welcome in Jamaica on Oct. 11 before concluding qualifying Oct. 15 at Panama.

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 men’s player to earn a cap for any nation in a World Cup qualifier. His overall cap total with the U.S. Senior National Team stands at 10 and the squad is 7-0-2 with Besler in the starting lineup. He started all three knockout-round matches of the Gold Cup in July and helped the U.S. to the title.

Besler plays professionally for Sporting Kansas City and was voted the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year. He was an MLS All-Star in 2011 and 2013.

— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director