The 2022 Major League Soccer season is officially over as Los Angeles FC won on penalties after an enthralling 3-3 after 120 minutes of open play against Philadelphia Union at Banc of California Stadium. However, for some players, the season is far from over – as some lucky MLS players are going to the World Cup with their national teams.
MLS players going to World Cup in 2022
Can any of them make a difference for their nations?
Gareth Bale – LAFC, Wales
Potentially the highest profile of the MLS players going to the World Cup, Gareth Bale rescued Los Angeles FC’s MLS Cup with his 128th-minute goal which secured the penalty shootout that took place in the MLS Cup final as he leveled up the score at 3-3. Bale might be afforded a moment to celebrate with his club, yet won’t be allowed a hangover given Welsh national team duty starts promptly.
There was a time during Bale’s career in which in almost exclusively played for Wales as he was isolated from the Real Madrid squad. He arguably played better for his nation in that period. While he led the team to qualification within the playoffs against Austria and Ukraine, otherwise it’s been a long year for Wales on the pitch. He played the last five UEFA Nations League matches in which Wales lost four and drew one.
If he’s to get anywhere near the winning feeling with Wales like he did LAFC, he’s got to elevate his national peers and inspire them to results and performances against the USMNT World Cup roster, England, and Iran. Given the group, however, should he do so, it may have a drastic impact on any USMNT World Cup predictions and/or results. Which might not help his reception back in the US when the 2023 season starts.
Rónald Matarrita – FC Cincinnati, Costa Rica
Costa Rica sits alongside Spain, Germany, and Japan in Group E. What’s affectionately now known as the group of death, Ronald Matarrita will have to be at his best to help Costa Rica. Yet his FC Cincinnati experience might be more of a help than first anticipated.
For years, Cincinnati was seen as the punching bag of Major League Soccer. Matarrita might not have elevated them by himself but his versatility on the left gave the club a lot of dynamic play the club was missing as they reached the conference semi-finals for the first time. Whether he is deployed as a left-back or a left-sided winger, he’ll help the flank for sure.
Karol Świderski – Charlotte FC, Poland
The 25-year-old Polish forward Karol Swiderski indented himself into some club history at Charlotte FC as he finished as the top scorer for the team in its first-ever MLS campaign.
10 goals might not set the world alight but should get him on the plane to Qatar. He might not be as prolific as Robert Lewandowski, Arkadiusz Milik, and Krzysztof Piatek, but Świderski has been in great form for Poland this year, having scored twice against Wales in the Nations League.
Jonathan Mensah – Columbus Crew, Ghana
One of the most consistent figures for the Columbus Crew since 2017 has been Jonathan Mensah. The Ghanaian defender had been a nomadic type before finding a home in Ohio. He isn’t as well revered within the Black Stars ranks.
While he’s often selected to be part of the squad, his appearances are less frequent. There’s no doubt he will be one of the MLS players going to the World Cup, he might just have to wait to show his mettle for the national side.
Head coach Otto Addo may want to play extra defenders in the opening game against Portugal with a certain Cristiano Ronaldo on the prowl for goals, he may be able to play himself into the starting eleven with a good performance here.
Facundo Torres – Orlando, Uruguay
Orlando City’s Facundo Torres had a prolific season for the club having scored 13 goals, including two in the US Open Cup final which Orlando won 3-0. This form has even attracted interest from European clubs, including Arsenal which seems keen on signing him.
The 22-year-old might initially have to wait on the bench. That’s because Darwin Nunez and Luis Suarez start ahead of him by default. However across the 2022 season he’s shown more than enough potential for Orlando and goal-prowess to merit inclusion and rotation if the team needs an attacking lift.
DeAndre Yedlin — Inter Miami, USA
The full-back out of Seattle, Washington is one of the most recognizable MLS players at the 2022 World Cup. The heavily-tattooed defender rose to prominence during his time in the Premier League with Tottenham Hotspur, Sunderland, and Newcastle United.
After leaving Galatasaray in January 2022, DeAndre Yedlin linked up with Manchester United legend Phil Neville to join his vibrant Inter Miami side. The American appeared in all 34 of the franchise’s MLS regular season games as he instantly became an integral part of the system at DRV PNK Stadium. Given his reliability at the back, he could easily be called upon to help influence the results of the USMNT World Cup schedule.