World Cup- Ecuador

Three players from LAFC’s MLS Cup 2022-winning side and one from Seattle Sounders FC’s Concacaf Champions League 2022-winning team are heading to the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Ecuador’s 26-man roster, announced Monday by manager Gustavo Alfaro, includes the LAFC trio of midfielder José Cifuentes, midfielder Sebastian Méndez and left back Diego Palacios. The Sounders’ representative is center back Xavier Arreaga.

That MLS contingent helps open the tournament Nov. 20 against hosts Qatar, then caps Group A play against the Netherlands (Nov. 25) and Senegal (Nov. 29). The group’s top two finishers reach the 16-team knockout round, building toward a Dec. 18 final at Lusail Stadium.

This is Ecuador’s fourth-ever World Cup appearance and their first since 2014. The South American country grabbed Conmebol’s last automatic qualification spot (fourth) to reach Qatar.

Below is a rundown of all four MLS participants for La Tri.

Arreaga, 28, has been with Seattle since 2019 and notched 3g/2a across 81 league games. He started both legs of the Sounders’ 2022 CCL final win over Liga MX’s Pumas UNAM, and was also part of their MLS Cup 2019-winning squad.

Internationally, Arreaga has one goal in 18 appearances for Ecuador. He used to play for Barcelona SC in his home country.

Cifuentes, 23, was a key piece on LAFC’s team that brought home an MLS double in 2022, meaning league and Supporters’ Shield titles. He’s reportedly the subject of widespread interest from European clubs and will soon be in the sport’s biggest spotlight. 

In MLS since 2020, Cifuentes has 13g/16a across 83 league games. He’s played in 11 matches for Ecuador and arrived at the Black & Gold from América de Quito in his home country.

Mendez, 25, joined LAFC this summer in a trade from Orlando City SC. He was mainly a late-game substitute for coach Steve Cherundolo’s team, though still added two trophies (MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield) to his ledger in 2022.

The defensive midfielder has 1g/0a across 81 league games since arriving in MLS in 2019 from Ecuador’s ​​Independiente DV. Internationally, he’s made 32 appearances.

LAFC's starting left back since 2020, Palacios joined the club a year prior from SD Aucas in his home country. “Chiqui” has 1g/10a in 73 league appearances for the Black & Gold, earning MLS All-Star honors in 2022 alongside eventual MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield titles. 

The 23-year-old has made 12 appearances for Ecuador.