FRISCO, Texas - FC Dallas players, coaches, staff and fans gathered in the National Soccer Hall of Fame at Toyota Stadium Friday afternoon for the 2022 FIFA World Cup draw which decided the U.S. Men's National Team's group stage opponents.
The USMNT was drawn into Group B along with England, Iran and the winner of the European qualifying playoff between Ukraine, Scotland and Wales. The U.S. will open its tournament against Ukraine/Scotland/Wales on November 21 before taking on England on Nov. 25 followed by Iran on Nov. 29.
"My initial thoughts are that this group is winnable and I think that's the mentality that we're going to have," said FCD and USMNT forward Paul Arriola, who, along with Jesús Ferreira, recently returned from the USMNT's final qualifying game in Costa Rica. "Obviously, every group presents its challenges. This is a group that I think (our) group will feel very confident in and as players we'll be prepared for every match and focus on winning the group."
"I think it's a great moment for the U.S. coming back to a World Cup," said FCD head coach Nico Estévez, who was a USMNT assistant coach from 2019-21. "As you could see, it's one of the biggest moments in soccer. The world stops to watch the World Cup. It's something that's very special and I'm really, really happy for the staff and the players."
Forwards Ferreira and Arriola both found the net in the U.S.'s 5-1 qualifying win over Panama last week, becoming the first club teammates to score in the same game for the USMNT since Fulham teammates Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey did so in 2008. The Dallas duo will look to cement their places in Gregg Berhalter's final World Cup squad this November.
"I think for us, it's about staying focused here at the club and giving it our all. That will show Gregg (Berhalter) and the staff that we want to make that roster," Ferreira said. "Just keeping focused, doing our job and, for us forwards, the main thing is scoring goals. That's what we love doing. So if we do what we love, we'll be there with the No. 9s."
"The hard thing about being a part of the National Team is you're never given a spot longterm," Arriola added. "The reality is, there could be guys who were part of qualifying that aren't in it. But that also gives guys who weren't there the opportunity to show they deserve to be a part of the team. Individually, we just have to focus on our clubs and situations here."
FC Dallas and its Academy products were instrumental in the USMNT's qualification campaign. A total of seven former FCD Academy players featured for the U.S. during the qualifying cycle: Kellyn Acosta, Reggie Cannon, Jesús Ferreira, Weston McKennie, Shaq Moore, Ricardo Pepi and Chris Richards. Nineteen-year-old Pepi, who moved from Dallas to FC Augsburg in a club-record transfer in January, led the USMNT with three goals and three assists from 10 WCQ appearances.
FC Dallas President Dan Hunt: "My brother Clark and I talked about this after not qualifying in 2018: We needed to make sure that we invested and did everything that we could to send the best possible players to the National Team to help us qualify in 2022. We made it to World Cup 2022 on our own merit, led by a bunch of FC Dallas players. It's incredibly rewarding, this a great time to be a part of the club. I think we're entering a golden time for soccer in our area. I hope we have an incredibly successful 2022 World Cup and in May or June we'll know if (Dallas) is selected to host games in 2026."