Oct. 10, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. –
In the first 15 years of Major League Soccer, the annual All-Star Game was played without representation from the University of Notre Dame. That changed in 2011, when MLS fans selected Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler (’09) to play with David Beckham, Thierry Henry and the rest of the league’s top players against British Premier League powerhouse Manchester United in July.
To recognize this outstanding achievement, the Notre Dame athletics department and the Monogram Club recognized the former All-American at halftime of the men’s soccer contest versus top-ranked Connecticut on Saturday afternoon.
Monogram Club executive director Beth Hunter led Besler and his parents, Greg and Diane, to midfield and presented the family with a collage from photographer Mike Bennett during the ceremony. Besler then gave Hunter a game-worn jersey from Sporting Kanas City as well as a flag from the MLS All-Star Game that will be donated to the men’s soccer program.
“Notre Dame has a very rich tradition in soccer and it’s one of the best programs in the country,” Besler said. “For me to be the first All-Star, it’s a great honor, and hopefully there are many more to come.”
Besler has started all 30 matches this season for his Sporting Kansas City club, which currently resides in first place in the Eastern Conference.
The Overland Park, Kan., native played at Notre Dame from 2005-08. As a senior, he became the first player in program history to earn both first-team All-America and first-team Academic All-America honors in the same season. 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.
Besler helped the Irish to two regular-season BIG EAST titles and four straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including trips to the quarterfinals in 2006 and 2007.
“The overall experience as an undergraduate here was phenomenal,” Besler said. “Notre Dame teaches student-athletes good values and a good work ethic. You’re presented with challenges on and off the field and are taught how to deal with those challenges. We succeed in the real world because of that.”
After graduating from the University with a degree in psychology, Besler was selected by Kansas City eighth overall in the first round of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft. That is the highest any Notre Dame player has ever been picked in the MLS Draft.
— ND —