Today, loyal reader, I thought it apt that we occupy a morning’s read with some important, if not exactly breaking, football news. In my official role as the site’s “non-football news wrangler,” I will freely admit that I’ve been surprised at the lack of readership. THOUSANDS more people read my Roundup about a cocktail than read my piece on ND Baseball. Which had player interviews, an exclusive with Coach Aoki, and my own personal photos documenting the three-game sweep of Tulane. Not that I’m bitter about it, but YOU PEOPLE WOULD RATHER READ WHICH BRAND PAD THE FOOTBALL TEAM IS GOING WITH NEXT YEAR THAN READ ABOUT NON-REVENUE SPORTS. Whatever. I’m over it.
But before you dismiss this article (looking at you Biscuit), consider that Matt Besler, Class of 2009 and former All-American, has garnered a spot in the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) starting eleven and anchors a solidifying defense that has the U.S. on the verge of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. The World Cup, I can’t believe I have to explain this, is the most popular sporting competition in the world and takes place every four years. National teams compete in regional, qualifying tournaments in the years leading up to the Cup. As you read this, Team America leads the six nation CONCACAF “Hexagonal” with twenty points on ten games. The top three teams will advance to the World Cup, which will be played next summer in Brazil.
Your eyes glazed over, didn’t they? You’ve quit reading, didn’t you? To prove my point, here’s how the Hexagonal works: the six teams, which include the U.S., Costa Rica, and Hufflepuff, play home and away matches in which three points are earned for a win, zero points for a loss, and two hundred and fifty points are awarded for catching the golden snitch.
Besler’s accomplishments are singular: he is the first Notre Dame player to play for the national team in a qualifying match, is a 2011 Major League Soccer All-Star and was 2012’s Defender of the Year. While I will concede that MLS’s definitively higher attendance figures than the NBA and NHL are likely due, in part, to much lower ticket prices, I will not concede that Besler, and American, are anything less than BFDs, to borrow from Joe Biden’s collection of one-liners. As I write this article, the USMNT is ranked twenty-eighth in the world. Which consists of twelve thousand teams, or something. Whatever. You don’t care. But you will, eventually: last year’s World Cup broke all the records for U.S. soccer viewership, with an average 4.7 million people watching each game. That’s an increase of forty one percent (41%) on 2006. I know, I know. Over seven and a half million people tuned in to watch Notre Dame defeat Oklahoma last season.
So, anyway, Matt Besler is, indeed, a pretty big deal, and his steady role in Team America’s back four cannot be ignored. We’re 4-0-2 with him in the first eleven. The next USMNT match is on July 5 against Guatemala and the team are in pole position to qualify and kick it in Brazil. In the meantime, follow Matt Besler (@mbesler) and don’t worry, loyal readers (and Biscuit): football returns tomorrow with the IBG.