The Texans will play a key role in the return of the men’s World Cup in the United States

The U.S. men’s national soccer team failed to qualify for the most recent FIFA World Cup held in Russia in 2018. But when the next tournament starts in Qatar on Sunday, the Americans will be there, thanks in large part to them. group of Texans in the squad.

arched bell, senior writer and editor at concacaf.com, spoke to the Texas Standard about Team USA’s prospects for the tournament. Listen to the story above or read the transcript below.

This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity:

Texas Standard: What are the prospects for the US men’s team at this year’s World Championships?

Arched bell: Well, that’s really interesting because obviously they missed the 2018 Russia tournament. So for the first time since Brazil 2014 they were at the World Cup. So it’s a very young team, but I think it will play in their favor. And I think the group they are in also suits them against Wales, England and Iran. So, three very strong contenders. But this is an American team, which, as I mentioned, has a lot of young players playing in the best clubs in Europe. So it’s very sporty. And I think there’s a lot of excitement around this team that something special might be brewing. And he starts in Qatar at this World Cup.

Wow. I think that when there are competitions like this, a lot of people like to look for players with Texas ties. And I’m wondering if you could talk about some of the ones that fans should keep an eye on.

Yes, absolutely. I mean, if you look at the US team, you will see that there are very strong ties to Texas. You look at the American linebacker, Weston McKenny of Little Elm, you know, they’re in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. He went through the FC Dallas Academy but never made his debut for the FC Dallas first team. He eventually went to Germany to start his career there and since then he has flourished, as you know, playing for the Italian side Juventus. Another American linebacker with Texan roots is Kellyn Acosta, another player who came through the FC Dallas system. He is from Plano. He played for Dallas for several seasons, now plays for Los Angeles, where he just won the MLS Cup with them. Jesus Ferreira is another one. Although he was born in Colombia, his father, David Ferreira, was a FC Dallas star in the late 2000s – like 2009, 2010 – somewhere in there. And Jesus also went through the FC Dallas Academy. You start hearing the constant theme that FC Dallas, their academic system, has produced some players who are a very important part of this American team.

Can we talk about someone else whose name is not listed anywhere? As far as I can tell, who went through this FC Dallas system? Ricardo Pepi, 19-year-old striker from El Paso. He played for Dallas before making a big deal with the German team, right? Was it not so long ago? Many analysts expected him to play a big role in this World Cup.

Yeah. And you know, to be honest, I’m surprised that he was excluded from the list of head coach Gregg Berhalter. I really thought that Pepi had established himself as one of the top hitters on the American team. He did well in World Cup qualifying when he was called up, scoring the game-winning goal against Honduras and then two goals against Jamaica in a win here in Austin last October. So I know that a lot of people, especially here in Texas, are disappointed that Ricardo Pepi is not on this team, but he is young – he is 20 years old. And, you know, everything points to him being on the team on the 26th. .

Was there any official explanation as to why he didn’t qualify?

I mean, nothing specific. I mean, Gregg Berhalter, the head coach, was asked about it. And he just said he was really looking for guys who thought they would give him the best chance of winning. It really came down to the player Hadji Wright, who plays for the Bundesliga team, which is Germany’s top division, and who was doing really well. But, you know, I’m sure he’ll have another opportunity.

Everything is fine. Do you have this crystal ball handy?

Well, I think the USA, I like their chances of reaching the second round. After that, of course, it depends on who they face in the 1/8 finals. But I think the USA will take the second place in their group after England. I am very excited about the second game they will play against England. They are opened by Wales, then by England, and then by Iran. But I think the US will finish second. I think they will make it to the playoffs. I am a bit skeptical about Mexico. You know, Mexico, for going back four years, has always been in the playoffs of the World Cup. But I think this time the series could really be in jeopardy.

Any bets on who can take it all?

Well, I think Argentina is ready to do it. Brazil is definitely a power. Argentina won the last Copa America. They defeated Brazil in the final. And this is the Argentina national team led by Lionel Messi, who is at the end of his career. And he is supported by a young Argentinean team. These are all the guys who grew up watching Messi and idolized him, and now they play with him and fight for him. And I think Argentina have really found their form here in the last couple of years and I really like their chances to go all the way and win this tournament.

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