July 11, 2016
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢’Â¬” Former University of Notre Dame men’s soccer standout defender and MLS All-Star Matt Besler (’09) appears primed to represent the MLS once more during its summer All-Star showcase. Besler was named to the 2016 AT&T All-Star Fan XI on July 9, and the Sporting Kansas City and United States Men’s National Team star is likely to make his fifth MLS All-Star Game appearance since 2011 later this month in San Jose, California.
A total of 10 of the 11 players that comprised the 2016 AT&T All-Star Fan XI were selected via online voting at MLSsoccer.com, while New York FC’s David Villa claimed his spot through the AT&T/EA SPORTS “More Than a Vote” Challenge. The official 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star roster will be unveiled on July 17 for the matchup with English Premier League side Arsenal on July 28 at 7:30 p.m. (ET) at Avaya Stadium in San Jose.
An All-Star selection in 2016 for Besler would mark the sixth straight season that a former Notre Dame player would take the pitch in the annual MLS All-Star Game. Besler was previously named to the squad in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015, while Justin Morrow (’10) from Toronto FC appeared as a defender in 2012 as a member of the San Jose Earthquakes.
Besler has made 11 appearances (10 starts) in between national team commitments with Sporting KC this season, scoring his first MLS goal of the year in a 3-2 win over the Columbus Crew on July 3. Besler added one assist against the LA Galaxy in a 1-1 draw on May 1, while Sporting KC has notched a pair of clean sheets during Besler starts this season.
Recently returning from the Copa AmÃƒÆ’Â©rica Centenario with the USMNT in June, Besler has earned six official U.S. Caps (five starts) thus far in 2016. He was a member of the U.S. Starting XI in a 2-1 quarterfinal win over Ecuador (June 16) and a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of Colombia (June 25) during the Copa AmÃƒÆ’Â©rica Centenario.
As the league nears its yearly All-Star festivities, here is an update on other players with Notre Dame ties that are currently involved with MLS affiliate organizations.
Nick Besler (’15) appears on the active Portland Timbers roster in his second year with the organization after spending the majority of his first two professional seasons on loan to the USL’s Portland Timbers 2. Besler made 13 match appearances for T2 in 2016, most recently playing the full 90 minutes against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 on June 19. Besler connected on three total shot attempts from the midfield for T2 this season, including his first career USL goal against the Swope Park Rangers on March 26.
Jeb Brovsky (’11) has earned nine starts for Minnesota United FC of the North American Soccer League (NASL) as its fall season gets underway. Brovsky, a five-year MLS veteran, has attempted four shots and played a key role in four total team clean sheets in 2016. Minnesota United FC has been awarded expansion entry into the MLS, and plans to join the league by 2018.
Vince Cicciarelli (’15) has made 13 match appearances for the USL’s Saint Louis FC (Chicago Fire affiliate) as of July 11, ranking second on the club with four goals. Following a two-goal effort against Orange County Blue FC on April 2, Cicciarelli was recognized as the USL Player of the Week that was announced on April 5. He has added goals against the Oklahoma City Energy FC on April 9 and the Tulsa Roughnecks FC on June 11 during the current campaign.
Bilal Duckett (’11) is in his second season with the USL’s Charlotte Independence (Colorado Rapids affiliate) in 2016, and has played in 16 games at defender as of July 11. Duckett logged a pair of assists in back-to-back matches against the Harrisburg City Islanders (April 2) and FC Cincinnati (April 9), and has contributed to four team clean sheets this season.
Max Lachowecki (’15) has spent the duration of his rookie season in the Real Salt Lake organization on loan with the Real Monarchs of the USL. Lachowecki has seen the pitch in 16 matches with the Monarchs as of July 11, helping to secure five team shutouts from the back line in his debut campaign.
Aaron Maund (’12) continues to be a standout player in his fourth season in the MLS with Real Salt Lake. Maund, who was named to the MLS Team of the Week on April 4, has presided over two team shutouts for Real Salt Lake and has logged 15 total starts as of July 11.
Luke Mishu (’14) in his second season with the D.C. United franchise and is currently on loan to the Richmond Kickers of the USL. Mishu has appeared in three matches with Richmond in 2016, most recently playing the full 90 minutes in a 3-0 shutout of the Harrisburg City Islanders on July 8.
Justin Morrow (’10) was named to the most recent MLS Team of the Week (July 11) after connecting on his second goal of 2016 for Toronto FC in a 1-0 shutout of the Chicago Fire on July 9. Morrow has started 16 of 17 Toronto FC matches this season, tallying two goals and one assist (one goal and one assist against Orlando City SC on June 25) while playing a key role in six clean sheets.
Dillon Powers (’13) is in the midst of his fourth season with the Colorado Rapids in 2016. Powers has played in 14 matches with nine starts as of July 11, notching a goal against D.C. United (March 20) and an assist against the Chicago Fire (June 18).
Harrison Shipp (’14) is settling into his first season in Canada playing for the Montreal Impact after spending his first two MLS years as a Homegrown Player with the Chicago Fire. Shipp connected on his first goal with Montreal in a 1-1 draw against Real Salt Lake on July 9, and has tallied a goal and three assists in 16 matches (12 starts) as of July 11.
Michael Thomas (’10) is in his second season with the Oklahoma City Energy FC of the USL (FC Dallas affiliate) after previously playing professionally in Sweden and spending two years in the MLS. Thomas has started 14 matches for Oklahoma City in 2016 as of July, scoring his first goal of the season in a victory at the Swope Park Rangers (June 18) before adding an assist in a 1-1 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 on June 25.
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.