March 27, 2013

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Former University of Notre Dame soccer All-American Matt Besler (`09) started and played the entire 90 minutes for the United States in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier at Mexico. The U.S. captured a key point by tying Mexico, 0-0, at Azteca Stadium.

It was Besler’s second cap with the United States Senior National Team and the first in a World Cup qualifier. He is the first current or former Notre Dame player to earn a cap in a World Cup qualifier for any nation.

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 U.S. is 0-13-2 all-time in World Cup qualifying matches in Mexico.

The draw in the USA’s third of 10 matches in the final round of 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying moved the Americans to 1-1-1 (4 points) in the Hexagonal and into a three-way tie for second place with Honduras and Costa Rica behind Panama (1-0-2, 5 points) at the top of the table. Mexico (0-0-3, 3 points) is in fifth place, and Jamaica (0-1-2, 2 points) sits in sixth. The top three finishers qualify directly to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

The U.S. will resume World Cup qualifying June 7 when it faces Jamaica at National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

Besler has been on the U.S. roster for all three qualifying matches in the Hexagonal Round. His former Fighting Irish teammate Justin Morrow (’10) earned a spot on the 23-man roster for the last two matches, which included a 1-0 win over Costa Rica on Friday.

Besler and Morrow started on the U.S. backline in a friendly versus Canada in January. The duo played the entire contest, which ended as a scoreless draw. They became the first Fighting Irish alums to earn a cap for the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team.

Besler, a Sporting Kansas City central defender, was voted the 2012 MLS Defender of the Year. He started 30 of his 31 appearances and anchored a Sporting Kansas City defense that allowed just 27 goals in 34 MLS matches to lead all MLS teams with the fewest goals conceded. Besler 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 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.