June 17, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame men’s soccer program reached another significant milestone on Monday when former All-American Matt Besler was in the starting lineup for the United States Men’s National Team in its 2014 FIFA World Cup opener versus Ghana. The U.S. defeated Ghana, 2-1, at Estadio das Dunas in Natal, Brazil.
Besler, a central defender, is Notre Dame’s first former player to be named to a World Cup Final roster. He was one of four players that started Monday’s game for the U.S. that competed collegiately in the United States.
Unfortunately, Besler was subbed out at halftime as a precaution after pulling his right hamstring late in the first half. His replacement, John Brooks, scored the game winner in the 86th minute. It was just the second time since 1930 that the U.S. won its opening World Cup match.
The win gave the U.S. three points and they currently are in second place in Group G. Germany (3 points) leads the group on goal differential (+4), while Ghana (0 points, -1 GD) is third and Portugal (0 points, -4 GD) is fourth.
The U.S. returns to the pitch Sunday against Portugal. The match is slated for 6 p.m. (ET) in the Amazonian city of Manaus and can be seen on ESPN and WatchESPN. The U.S. concludes group play June 26 versus Germany (noon ET).
Besler has made 15 appearances for the United States since debuting in January 2013. He played in six FIFA World Cup qualifiers and all three knockout round games en route to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup championship. The U.S. is 10-1-3 with Besler in the starting lineup.
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.