The World Cup of Qatar has finally arrived, as 32 teams are ready to fight to become world champions. But there will only be one country to grab the cup and take home.
Every footballer player’s dream is to play for their nation and participate in the World Cup. Of course, every professional footballer plays for a certain club around the world despite some playing for both club and country. Therefore, five Los Angeles Football Club players have called up by their national team, ready to play for their country.
LAFC players Jose Cifuentes, Diego Palacios, and Sebas Mendez have called up by the Ecuador National Team. For the first time in their careers, they are heading to the World Cup to play for their country. But, out of the three, one or two of these LAFC players could be in the starting lineup.
Ecuador manager Gustavo Alfaro will have selection headaches during the tournament, which is a good thing. If players get called up by their national team that tells something about the players, like Palacios, who has the potential to become a top player in the coming years. But I don’t see him starting right now because Pervis Estupiñán, who plays for Brighton and Hove Albion, has been the better player overall. Soon Palacios will demonstrate his quality and knock on the manager’s door.
Another player that can knock on the door is Cifuentes, who had an excellent season for LAFC. The midfielder provided seven goals and six assists in 36 appearances. But the twenty-three-year-old could be in either starting lineup or not. While Mendez, who is a little more experienced and has more appearnces due to his playing time In Orlando City FC, could potentially start against Qatar ahead of Cifuentes.
Ecuador had a great 2022 World Cup qualification (CONMEBOL) as La Tricolor finished 4th in the table with 26 points. La Tricolor has not gotten out of the group stage twice. Their best performance was in 2006, when they were eliminated in the Round of 16, losing to England in the Germany World Cup. Ecuador is in group A with Qatar, Senegal, and the Netherlands.
The United States National Team is back after missing the Russia world cup four years ago. After four years of waiting, the U.S. has fresh new faces and is ready to play at its best. Missing the 2018 World Cup helped the Stars and Stripes in their search for new exciting players.
One of the players is LAFC player Kellyn Acosta. Despite playing the majority of his career with FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids. Acosta is part of the Black and Gold and also part of the 26 U.S. squad. He will offer his technical skills and work rate and create space for his team with confidence.
The U.S. finished the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification – CONCACAF Third Round in third place with 25 points. After missing the world cup in Russia, the USA won the CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup, beating Mexico twice. The U.S. is in group B, joining Wales, Iran, and England.
Lastly, for the first time in 64 years, Wales is in the World Cup. After failing to qualify 15 times, the Dragons are ready to compete. The one player who carried Wales to the Qatar World Cup is LAFC player Gareth Bale.
He scored twice against Austria and scored once against Ukraine in the FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA second round. Bale’s goals send his national team to the tournament and most likely start.
Not only did he send his nation to the world cup, but he stepped up in the MLS cup final, scoring in stoppage time, sending LAFC to penalties, winning 3-0 against Philadelphia Union, and securing its first MLS trophy. Bale and Wales are in group B with the United States, Iran, and England.
Being called for the national team weeks or months before the world cup, it’s something the players won’t forget. For LAFC, it’s crucial for their players to participate in major international tournaments because they are key to taking the club forward.