While not an indicator of making a FIFA men’s World Cup roster, three Sounders FC players are on that path.
Sounders defender Xavier Arreaga is training with his Ecuador national team while Sounders forward Jordan Morris and midfielder Cristian Roldan were called in for a U.S. men’s national team camp for MLS-based players still in contention but not in the league playoffs. The two-week USMNT training opened Tuesday in Frisco, Texas.
Nouhou remains with the Sounders but is expected to join his Cameroon national team within the week. The defender could start for the Indomitable Lions during World Cup play.
For Roldan, it’s regained confidence that he’s still a possible pick after undergoing groin surgery in August and missing a month of MLS competition. Roldan’s 2022 slate started strong in leading the CONCACAF Champions League tournament in assists as the Sounders claimed the title. He totaled four goals, five assists and logged 2,102 minutes in MLS competitions, but the Sounders didn’t reach the postseason for the first time in club history — a span of 14 years.
“I felt in really good shape coming into the season,” Roldan said. “I was playing really well and after the Toronto game, where we had three games in a week, me getting injured during that time kind of spiraled into a downhill effect and became a difficult year.
“But I feel back to my normal self. That’s important going into potentially making a World Cup squad and then competing for a Club World Cup [with the Sounders in February].”
Arreaga and Nouhou have intimated wanting to go on loans to European clubs and a solid World Cup performance could draw attention. Ecuador opens the 32-team tournament Nov. 20 against host Qatar. La Tri then plays Netherlands (Nov. 25) and Senegal (Nov. 29).
The USMNT begins the group stage against Wales on Nov. 21 and plays England on Nov. 25 and finishes the first round against Iran on Nov. 29.
Cameroon faces Switzerland (Nov. 24), Serbia (Nov. 28) and Brazil (Dec. 2).
“It’s something we’ll evaluate if it comes to pass,” said Garth Lagerwey, the Sounders’ general manager and president of soccer. “It’s important to remember, too, that those transfers have to be mutual. That’s not just a Sounders decision. That’s up to the player, if that’s something they want to do and is that a place they want to go.”
World Cup rosters aren’t due until Nov. 14 but the USMNT is going to have a roster reveal Nov. 9 from Brooklyn Steel in New York City. Members of the 26-player group are expected to be present for the announcement, which will air on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. PT.
“From an individual standpoint, I learned a lot,” Roldan said. “This was really my first injury and it’s dark at times [because] this is what you love to do and you want to be out here training with the guys that you love. In that aspect, appreciating the everyday hustle that the profession brings. From a team standpoint, I need to take a bigger step into a leadership role and make sure [not making the playoffs] doesn’t happen again.”