We know how many players will be on the plane for the World Cup in Qatar this November when FIFA announced an expanded roster to 26 from the usual 23. But the big question is who gets selected for that flight by US men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter.
A pair of Seattle Sounders – forward Jordan Morris and midfielder Cristian Roldan – continued to state their case Saturday in the Rave Green’s 3-0 win over Sporting Kansas City at Lumen Field.
WATCH: Seattle Sounders triumph over Sporting KC with three clinical goals
Morris and Roldan each had a goal and an assist to help the Sounders go unbeaten in six of their last seven MLS matches (5W-1L-1D) and continue to climb up the Western Conference table.
While the extended roster may aid Morris and Roldan's selection chances, Seattle head coach Brian Schmetzer believes the attacking duo has already shown enough.
"The announcement of 26 players going to the World Cup certainly has helped, but Jordan and Cristian, I believe, stand on their own," Schmetzer said postgame.
With the Sounders nursing a 1-0 lead courtesy of a perfect cross from Roldan to Will Bruin inside of 10 minutes, the Rave Green found some much-needed insurance in the second half to gradually pull away from SKC. Those came from Nouhou's service from beyond the left side of the box to Morris, who headed it past a helpless Tim Melia to give the Sounders a 2-0 lead with less than 20 minutes remaining.
That goal came just over a week-and-a-half after Morris entered against El Salvador in the 80th minute of a Concacaf Nations League match, scoring with his head early in stoppage time to help the USMNT salvage a 1-1 draw over 10-man La Selecta in San Salvador.
"Jordan is a one-of-a-kind attacking player [with] power [and] pace. Now that he's scoring a few goals with his head, I'm sure Gregg will notice that," Schmetzer said.
Moments later, Morris assisted on the match's third goal thanks to a through ball from Leo Chu, forcing Melia off his line and finding Roldan for a simple tap-in.
As the elder Roldan brother proves increasingly dangerous out wide, Schmetzer pointed to the intangibles he brings to the table.
"I think Cristian is, tactically, one of the smartest players in our league," he said. "He always does the little things, the little details that need to happen for our team to win games."
All in all, there's little doubt on where the longtime Seattle boss stands when World Cup decision-time arrives for Berhalter.
"Both of those players, I believe, without any bias, should be included in that group," Schmetzer said.
Morris, 27, faces a crowded winger corps. He played in the USMNT's last six World Cup qualifiers and now has 4g/3a in 12 matches for Seattle this year, his first full season back from a torn ACL.
Roldan, 27, can play on the right wing or in a No. 8 role for the USMNT. He played in five Concacaf Octagonal matches off the bench, carrying 3g/4a in 14 matches for the Concacaf Champions League-winning Sounders.