2024 Season

The American Soccer Dream: Kamungo & Tafari called into U.S. Men's National Team

1.5 Bernie and Kos

FC Dallas standouts Bernard Kamungo and Nkosi Tafari have been rewarded with their first senior U.S. Men’s National Team call-ups by head coach Gregg Berhalter. Kamungo and Tafari will participate in the USMNT’s annual January camp after making great strides at the club level over 2023.

Together, they’re on the path to achieving the American Soccer Dream.

"Each and every player has their own story," Berhalter said in a press conference Friday morning. "The players from FC Dallas, Nkosi (Tafari) is a late bloomer at 26 years old and getting his first opportunity. Bernard (Kamungo) is a refugee, these are the stories that really make it gratifying to do this job, when you get to work with players from unique backgrounds."

Kamungo, in particular, has captured the imagination of the American soccer audience following his improbable journey to Major League Soccer. His story began in a Tanzanian refugee camp where he learned the game using make-shift soccer balls before emigrating to Abilene, Texas via the International Rescue Committee. There, Kamungo played middle school and high school soccer before his brother, Imani, urged him to try out for North Texas SC, FCD’s development team, in late 2020. After impressing in the tryout, Kamungo signed with North Texas where he was the leading scorer a year later, an achievement that earned him a first team contract with FC Dallas.

In his first full FCD season, Kamungo contributed eight goals and three assists and propelled Dallas into the postseason with two goals in a must-win game on the final day of the regular season. Of his six goals in MLS play, three were game-winners and two earned the club crucial draws. His play warranted two call-ups to the U.S.’s Olympic squad (an under-23 team) toward the end of 2023, having only become a U.S. citizen the year prior. The 22-year-old made an immediate impact with the Olympic team, recording two assists over his first two games.

"The kid just has a knack for scoring goals," Berhalter said. "He gets in front of goal and he's very effective. Those are qualities you can't teach. When I think about our wingers, particularly Christian (Pulisic), that's one of his main attributes that people overlook: he scores goals, he's in position, he attacks the penalty box very well, and he's able to finish off attacks in a very efficient way. And Bernard is no different."

Now in 2024, Kamungo has added another chapter to his Hollywood-worthy story by earning a chance to play with the senior national team alongside teammate Tafari.

Tafari was FCD’s first pick in the 2020 SuperDraft. Like Kamungo, Tafari spent his first season in Dallas playing for North Texas SC in USL League One. The 6-foot-4 center back broke through at the MLS level under head coach Luchi Gonzalez in 2021 and has gone on to play 79 times over the last three seasons. Tafari enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2023, leading Dallas to the second-best defensive record in the Western Conference while also contributing on the offensive end with three goals and four assists. This call-up is the first step towards Tafari’s personal goal of playing for the U.S. in the 2026 World Cup on home soil.

"He's a late bloomer but nonetheless he's able to really make a big impact on a very good defensive team at FC Dallas this year," Berhalter said. "He has good athleticism, very proficient on the ball and can make great line breaking passes. So we're interested to see how he can make that next step. There's there's some things that we saw that he needs to continue to work on. But this is a great opportunity for him to get in this group and show what he can do with with the elite young players in Major League Soccer."

Kamungo and Tafari will train with the U.S. squad from Jan. 8-16 before the team will heads to San Antonio for a friendly against Slovenia on Jan. 20 at San Antonio FC’s Toyota Field.