Acosta to Zimmerman: Meet the 9 MLS players on USMNT's World Cup roster


The 26-player US men’s national team roster for the FIFA 2022 World Cup is out.

The most represented league? Major League Soccer, with nine players (35%) competing for seven different clubs – including two apiece from Nashville SC and Seattle Sounders FC. Taking a wider view, 18 selections (69%) are current MLS players, former MLS players and/or players who spent time in an MLS academy.

Homegrown products like Leeds United midfielders Brenden Aaronson (Philadelphia Union) and Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), as well as one-time academy prospects who went overseas early – like Borussia Dortmund attacker Gio Reyna (NYCFC) and Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie (FC Dallas) – all fit that bigger group.

As the USMNT prepare for a Group B opener on Nov. 21 against Wales, followed by matches against England (Nov. 25) and Iran (Nov. 29), here’s a rundown of each MLS representative that’ll be in Qatar.

  • Experience: 10 caps
  • Age: 33
  • From: Lilburn, Georgia

From possibly not making the roster to now being the likely backup to New England Revolution-turned-Arsenal goalkeeper Matt Turner, Johnson is poised for a key role in Qatar – especially after Middlesbrough goalkeeper Zack Steffen was omitted from the 26-man group entirely.

Johnson, who could enter MLS free agency this winter, has captained NYCFC to MLS Cup 2021 and Campeones Cup 2022 titles the past two seasons. He posted the second-most shutouts in MLS (14) this year, trailing only three-time Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and Jamaican international Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union).

“Getting selected for the World Cup roster is a dream come true,” Johnson said. “It’s a lifetime goal that I’ve had and it’s one that I’ve now achieved and it’s real. It probably won’t feel real until I step off the plane in Qatar.”

  • Experience: 29 caps; 3 goals
  • Age: 30
  • From: Oak Hills, California

Long is highly rated by head coach Gregg Berhalter, breaking into the program full-bore once the ex-Columbus Crew manager took over. That’s a testament to Long’s playing style and athleticism, with Berhalter preferring ground-covering center backs who are comfortable in 1-v-1 defending scenarios and strong in the air.

Long has bounced back from suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon in May 2021, captaining RBNY as they’ve equaled an MLS record of 13 straight postseason appearances. Now, he’ll be eligible for MLS free agency this winter and has expressed an interest in going abroad.

“That bit of uncertainty in that [injury] moment, whether I was going to be able to get back with this team, this moment, how my body was going to react and setting that goal for myself early on in the recovery process, to have it now finally realized after a year and a half or so, it means a lot. It means the world to me,” Long said.

  • Experience: 15 caps; 1 goal
  • Age: 26
  • From: Powder Springs, Georgia

Moore is back stateside after spending extensive time in Spain’s top divisions, arriving at Nashville in mid-July from CD Tenerife. In 2017, Moore became just the fourth American player at the time of his appearance to play in a LaLiga match.

Now, Moore is one of the premier right backs in MLS and appears to be a long-term centerpiece for his club, with his deal running through 2025 (with a 2026 option). He had three assists across 11 starts this season as Nashville earned their third-straight playoff appearance.

“I had a few tough years, trying to find my way where I was playing, fighting for playing time as well,” Moore said. “Then ultimately getting an opportunity to come back to MLS this summer, I just felt like it was the right time to come back and grow the game and obviously put myself in the best position to make the World Cup, which ended up working out well.”

  • Experience: 75 caps; 0 goals
  • Age: 29
  • From: Seattle, Washington

Yedlin is the most experienced player on the USMNT roster, sitting as the lone World Cup veteran after featuring as a 20-year-old at Brazil 2014 when Jürgen Klinsmann was at the helm. The right back provides a steady hand on what’ll be the USMNT’s second-youngest World Cup roster with an average age of 25 years, 175 days.

Yedlin’s pro career started back in 2013 as a Seattle homegrown player, then he spent seven years in Europe for the likes of Newcastle United (England) and Galatasaray (Turkey). He joined Inter Miami last winter and was a backline mainstay for the Herons’ rapid rebuild as they set club records for points (48) and wins (14).

“Not many players get to play in one World Cup, let alone two," Yedlin said. "So to be able to go with this group is great. Knowledge and experience aren’t for nothing. It’s meant to be passed down, so that’s what I’m going to try and do for all those guys.”

  • Experience: 33 caps; 3 goals
  • Age: 29
  • From: Lawrenceville, Georgia

Zimmerman is the USMNT’s top center back going to Qatar, and it’s become a question of who partners him after Atlanta United’s Miles Robinson suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon last May and Crystal Palace’s Chris Richards missed out on the roster with a hamstring injury. Yet early in the USMNT’s Concacaf Octagonal qualifying process, Zimmerman wasn’t even making the roster – emphasizing his star turn this past year-plus.

Zimmerman is a two-time MLS Defender of the Year and one of Nashville’s most important players. He’s been in MLS since 2013, with prior stops at FC Dallas and LAFC before becoming a DP for his current club.

“It’s trying to go out there and be consistent, trust in who I am as a player, and not try and play out of what I’m used to,” Zimmerman said of his Qatar outlook. “It’s taking it stride, not getting overwhelmed by the environment, the experience, but just being focused on winning the game.”

  • Experience: 53 caps; 2 goals
  • Age: 27
  • From: Plano, Texas

Acosta might not be a written-in-pen starter for the USMNT, but few players are more valued and trusted by Berhalter. He appeared in all but one (13 of 14) qualifying match as the Yanks finished third in Concacaf’s Octagonal behind Canada and Mexico, and he’s the second-most capped player on the squad – ahead of even Chelsea forward Christian Pulisic (52).

Fresh off winning an MLS Cup 2022 title with LAFC, Acosta originally entered MLS in 2012 as a homegrown player for FC Dallas before joining the Colorado Rapids and arriving at his current stop. Acosta is super versatile, too, slotting into several midfield roles or even outside back if needed.

“Back in 2018, not qualifying, it was gut-punching," Acosta said. "I worked hard to get back to this point and the group in general. We’ve had a long journey to achieve this goal of getting to the World Cup.”

  • Experience: 32 caps; 0 goals
  • Age: 27
  • From: Pico Rivera, California

Roldan helped Seattle win a historic 2022 Concacaf Champions League title in May, and has recovered from a groin surgery that limited him down the Sounders’ stretch run. To emphasize his importance to the Rave Green: Roldan has made 280 appearances for the club in all competitions, ranking third in their MLS era behind only Osvaldo Alonso and Stefan Frei.

Roldan featured in five of the USMNT’s 14 World Cup qualifiers, though was a constant call-in during the cycle – always hailed for his off-field qualities and team-wide impact. He’s another versatile piece, playing both in midfield and on the flank depending on tactical needs.  

“We grew up with very little resources and [this] was always a dream that seemed unattainable,” said Roldan, the son of El Salvadorian and Guatemalan immigrant parents. “To this point, I still can’t believe it, but it was always something I thought would never be achieved. 

“It was always in the back of my mind that we could somehow make it, but the percentages were really low. To be in the shoes I am today, I’m blessed and I’m just excited to share my culture with the team."

  • Experience: 15 caps; 7 goals
  • Age: 21
  • From: McKinney, Texas

Ferreira is one of the USMNT’s three strikers for Qatar, and he’s joined by Josh Sargent (Norwich City) and Haji Wright (Antalyaspor). The Colombian-American’s profile is a bit different, bringing great technical qualities and the ability to both get behind opposing backlines and drop in and create.

The homegrown forward signed a Young DP deal ahead of the 2022 season, then produced by tying the FC Dallas single-season record for goals (18). He earned the 2022 MLS Young Player of the Year award and placed on the 2022 MLS Best XI presented by Continental Tire.

“It’s an amazing feeling, it’s an honor,” Ferreira said of being selected. “It’s every kid’s dream to represent a country and to do it on the world’s biggest stage, it’s a better feeling.”

  • Experience: 49 caps; 11 goals
  • Age: 28
  • From: Mercer Island, Washington

Morris has overcome two ACL tears in the past few years, going from a player whose career hung in the balance to one who’s now World Cup-bound. He’ll be among the USMNT’s most experienced players, having spent almost his entire pro career with his hometown Sounders – an injury-stunted loan to Welsh side Swansea City notwithstanding. 

Since signing with Seattle as a homegrown player prior to the 2016 season, Morris has made 169 appearances across all competitions, ranking fifth in club history with 52 goals and tied for seventh with 28 assists. He’s been part of two MLS Cup-winning teams (2016, ‘19) and a CCL-winning one (‘22) as well.

“There’s been some ups and downs over the course of the cycle and especially with this last [injury] coming kind of close to when qualifying was starting,” Morris said. “But I remember laying on that field when I got hurt and talking to my wife right after and saying I still have time to get back, recover and hopefully be part of this group. 

“That was my whole goal through my rehab, and something that pushed me every day was to hopefully come and be part of the World Cup group. Now that’s here, it makes all that hard work worth it.”

World Cup schedule - Group B

After group-stage play, the top two finishers in each group will advance to the knockout stage. The final will be held Dec. 18 at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar.