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Four Sounders players to watch at the 2022 World Cup

San Jose Earthquakes v Seattle Sounders FC. Abbie Parr/GettyImages
San Jose Earthquakes v Seattle Sounders FC. Abbie Parr/GettyImages / Abbie Parr/GettyImages
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Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan (United States)

Morris and Roldan will both represent the USA in the nation's return to the World Cup after infamously failing to qualify in 2018. Because of that, this will be the first World Cup for 25 out of 26 players on the US squad (only one holdover from 2014) including Morris and Roldan. Interesting note: that one returner from 2014 is former Sounder DeAndre Yedlin, who played for Seattle at the time of the 2014 World Cup.

Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldan
United States v Cuba - CONCACAF Nations League. John Dorton/ISI Photos/GettyImages / John Dorton/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Morris and Roldan will both likely be reserves for the US, but they will have an opportunity to make their mark on the competition. There is a chance that both could see action as substitutes. Roldan is behind the likes of Weston McKennie (Juventus/Serie A), Yunus Musah (Valencia/La Liga), and Brenden Aaronson (Leeds United/Premier League) in the midfield for the US (those 3 are likely battling it out for the starting spots at the 8 and 10).

Plus wonderkid Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund/Bundesliga) could be an option at the 10 if he doesn't play at winger. I say all that to say this, it could be tough for Roldan to see a lot of minutes at the World Cup. However, he's in the 26 for a reason and definitely could see his name called.

Morris is also at a position where he will likely be behind some star European players in the lineup for the US. The new "Captain America" Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/Premier League) will start at left winger (which is Morris' preferred side). Who the starter will be on the other side is up for debate. It could be Reyna, Aaronson, or Timothy Weah (Lille/Ligue 1).

Morris will likely be #5 on the depth chart at winger, although Reyna and Aaronson are both options in the midfield which could open up minutes at winger. It's also possible with such a major question mark at striker that one of the four other wingers (or even Morris) could get slid to the 9. This again, would increase the chance of minutes for Morris. Nevertheless, at the moment Morris appears stuck behind the US's best player at left-winger.

Even with all of that just mentioned, I still think there's a decent chance that both Morris and Roldan see some minutes at the World Cup. Especially with so much fluidity expected matchup-to-matchup, but also with so many important matches so close together.

The US are in Group B, joined by England, Wales, and Iran.

England are one of the most talented teams in the competition and are coming off a semi-final run in the 2018 World Cup and a 6-2 win over Iran in their opening game. England are led by the likes of 2018 WC Golden Boot winner Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur/Premier League), Phil Foden (Manchester City/Premier League), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal/Premier League), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool/Premier League), and Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund/Bundesliga).

Wales are making their first World Cup appearance since 1958 (and just their second appearance ever). They are led by LAFC's Gareth Bale (who has the pressure of being the greatest Welsh footballer ever, and will be looked upon as the standard-bearer of the team). The squad also features a lot of European club-based talent however. Among them are a youthful group including 21-year old Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest/Premier League), 21-year old Neco Williams (Nottingham Forest/Premier League), and 20-year old Rubin Colwill (Cardiff City/English Championship). Plus established veteran goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey (Nottingham Forest/Premier League).

Iran is making their third straight appearance at the World Cup (sixth overall). They come in ranked 20th in the FIFA Team Rankings. They are led by a strong group of players such as: Ehsan Haisafi (AEK Athens/Greek Super League), Omid Noorafkan (Sepahan/Iran Pro League), Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Feyenoord/Eredivisie), Sardar Asmoun (Bayer Leverkusen/Bundesliga), and Mehdi Taremi (Porto/Primeira Liga).

It seems that many pundits are picking the US to finish second in the group, which seems about right. I believe that on paper the US is better than Wales and Iran (although they must bring their A-game because either of those teams are capable of beating them), and I'm just not sure that the US has the firepower to knock off England (yet, just remember. The US is building towards 2026).

If the US makes it out of the group, then they will take on a team from Group A (Netherlands, Senegal, Ecuador, and Qatar) in the round of 16. I believe that the US should make it to the knockout stage. A trip to the quarter-finals feels like a near "best-case scenario" for the US, but one that is definitely possible. A loss in the round of 16 feels like "did what they were expected". I would be disappointed if the US failed to make it out of the group.

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