California MLS Players To Watch At The 2022 World Cup

Written By Rashid Mohamed on November 15, 2022
California MLS players make World Cup rosters

With less than a week before the World Cup in Qatar kicks off, players, organizers and fans are preparing themselves for what promoters have described as a tournament “like no other.” A few players from California Major League Soccer teams will be a part of the action starting Nov. 20.

Record number of MLS players in World Cup

Unfortunately, Californians can’t legally bet on World Cup games online or in person at California casinos. Both California sports betting propositions on the Nov. 8 ballot, Prop 26 and Prop 27, were soundly defeated.

This year, the American brouhaha over the World Cup has plenty of merit. It’s not only because the matches will be played during the lead-up to Christmas rather than the summer, but also because 40 MLS players will represent their respective countries. That’s a record number for the North American league.

Thirty-two participating nations, including the United States, have already begun announcing their rosters for the tournament. MLS Commissioner Don Garber, while delivering his annual State of the League address last week, said he expects the number of MLS players at World Cup to keep rising:

“We’ll be participating among the top leagues in the world that will have players participating for their national teams. I think those numbers will continue to grow as our league continues to sign more international players and those players perform at a level that continues to rise.”

At least three MLS players competing in Qatar will be representing California MLS clubs.

LA Galaxy

Considered to be one of the most iconic soccer clubs in the league’s history, the LA Galaxy began competing when the league made its debut in 1996. Two years later, the team won its first title when they finished with the most points, earning them the Supporters’ Shield.

Aided by the US Men’s National Team legend Cobi Jones, the team went on to win the 2000 CONCACAF Cup, the 2001 and 2005 U.S. Open Cup, the 2002 Supporters’ Shield and the 2002 and 2005 MLS Cups.

Martín Cáceres

The highly-experienced and versatile Uruguayan defender who joined the Galaxy only in August has been called up for World Cup duty by his nation’s head coach, Diego Alonso. This will be the fourth time Cáceres answers the call to represent his country at the FIFA World Cup (2010, 2014, 2018, 2022). In the 113 games he’s played since his debut against South Africa in 2007, the 35-year-old has totaled three goals and six assists.

Cáceres played in 11 games for Uruguay across three World Cups, starting each time. In his first World Cup, held in 2010 in South Africa, he not only started but also played the entire semifinals match against the Netherlands. He then started in the third-place game against Germany days later.

In 2014, when the World Cup was held in Brazil, Cáceres made four appearances, again starting each time. Four years later, in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, he was called up five times.

Uruguay is positioned in Group H together with South Africa, Portugal and Ghana.

Los Angeles FC

The Los Angeles Football Club, better known as the LAFC, was announced in 2014 as the new Los Angeles-area team, replacing the defunct Chivas USA. Promised a state-of-the-art stadium in the heart of LA, Banc of California Stadium, a 22,000-seat soccer-specific stadium, was completed in 2018.

Although relatively new to the league, LAFC’s accomplishments are worth celebrating. In 2019, during their second season, they won the Supporters’ Shield, and their club captain, Carlos Vela, earned the MVP award. They were runners-up in the CONCACAF Champions League in 2020, and last weekend, LAFC won its first MLS Cup.

Actor and comedian Will Ferrell, an ardent supporter of the team, is also a part-owner.

Gareth Bale

Bale, a world-class winger who came to play in the MLS for the Los Angeles FC after a spell at Real Madrid, will be a player to watch in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. He only arrived in LA this summer but managed to score in the MLS Cup final last Saturday. In doing so, he helped LAFC win the championship for the first time.

The forward headlines the 26-man World Cup roster Wales will present at Qatar. As the Welsh captain, he has steered Wales to its first World Cup in 64 years. Bales will first appear on Nov. 21, the tournament’s second day, when Wales comes up against the US at 2 p.m. EST.

Kellyn Acosta

The Texas-born midfielder may not have been a sure starter for the US Men’s National Team, but American coach Gregg Berhalter places a lot of trust and value in the 27-year-old. Acosta played in 13 of 14 qualifying matches as the US finished third in CONCACAF Octagonal behind Canada and Mexico.

He’s also the second most capped player on the squad, ahead of Christian Pulisic, Chelsea’s forward.

San Jose Earthquakes

When the franchise began play in 1996, the team was nicknamed the “Clash.” But after four seasons, before the 2000 season, San Jose changed its name to “Earthquakes” in honor of the former NASL team that had been successful in San Jose.

Besides taking part in the first game in MLS history where they defeated D.C. United 1-0, the Earthquakes have won two MLS Cup titles in 2001 and 2003. They also achieved two Supporters’ Shields (2005, 2012). The team has an intense rivalry with the LA Galaxy, known as the California Clasico.

As of yet, no players from the Earthquakes are listed on Berhalter’s final roster.

More on the 2022 World Cup

The FIFA World Cup is an international competition involving the senior men’s national teams of the members of the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport’s global governing body.

Since its inauguration in 1930, the championship has been awarded every four years. The tournament was not held between 1942 and 1946 because of World War II.

Twenty-one World Cup tournaments have taken place so far. However, eight national teams have dominated the games. Brazil, which is the only team to have participated in every tournament, has won five times. The next top World Cup victors are Germany and Italy, each having won four titles. Argentina, France and Uruguay all have two titles under their belts, whereas England and Spain each hold one title.

The World Cup has been hosted by 17 countries. Brazil, France, Italy, Germany and Mexico have each had the privilege twice. Uruguay, Switzerland, Sweden, Chile, England, Argentina, Spain, the US, Japan and South Korea (jointly), South Africa and Russia have each hosted it once.

This year, hosting duties belong to Qatar. The 2026 tournament will be jointly hosted by Canada, the US and Mexico. Mexico will be the first country to host games in three World Cups.

Here is the World Cup draw:

  • Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands
  • B: England, Iran, US, Wales
  • C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland
  • D: France, Australia, Denmark, Tunisia
  • E: Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan
  • F: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia
  • G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon
  • H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea
Photo by AP Photo / Hassan Ammar
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Rashid Mohamed

Rashid Mohamed is an international journalist with a special interest in sports writing. He is a Poli-Sci graduate of Ohio University and holds an A.A.S in Journalism. He has worked in a number of countries and has extensive experience in the United Nations as well as other regional, national, and international organizations. Rashid lives and writes out of Denver, Colorado.

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