FRISCO, Texas – It’s official. U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter named his 26-man squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. It includes three FC Dallas Academy products with current Homegrown Jesús Ferreira and fellow FCD Academy products Kellyn Acosta and Weston McKennie. Former FCD SuperDraft pick Walker Zimmerman, now playing for Nashville SC, also made the final cut.
The biggest news for Dallas fans is the inclusion of FCD’s 2022 top scorer Jesús Ferreira. The 21-year-old tied a club record by scoring 18 goals this season and was included in the MLS Best XI while also earning Young Player of the Year. Ferreira will compete to be the USMNT’s starting striker in Qatar later this month after scoring seven times in his 15 previous caps.
"I’m excited for the opportunity that coach Gregg (Berhalter) has given me and I’m excited that the team believes in me and sees what I can do," Ferreira told reporters after the announcement. "It’s a lot of nerves. Obviously, it’s a World Cup. It’s a moment where everybody tunes in and not everyone gets to play this tournament. I’m just excited that they believe in me and that I can be here and represent the US.
“FC Dallas has been there since day one. They’re the team that I love, they’re the team that that I play for. And it’s exciting. I’m happy that I can say that I grew up playing with FC Dallas and we can see how good of an academy and program FC Dallas has. You see two other guys that are in the roster that have came up through the Academy and played on each level and I’m just happy that I can say that I played on the FC Dallas Academy and play for the first time.”
Acosta and McKennie are both FC Dallas Academy graduates now plying their trade with different clubs. Acosta played five and a half seasons in Dallas after signing a Homegrown contract in 2012 but was traded to Colorado Rapids in 2018 and subsequently LAFC four years later. McKennie, a seven-year FCD Academy player, opted to join German club Schalke 04 after turning 18 before signing for Italian giants Juventus last year. Current Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman played five seasons in Dallas after the club drafted him in the first round of the 2013 SuperDraft out of Furman University.
"It speaks very highly of the work FC Dallas has done with its Academy," said FCD head coach Nico Estévez, who previously was a USMNT assistant coach under Berhalter. "It should motivate us to keep doing a good job and get even better because all academies around the country are trying to reach where FC Dallas is. We have to keep pushing to keep developing players for the National Team."
FC Dallas Academy graduates played a major role in the USMNT’s successful World Cup qualification cycle for Qatar 2022. There was AT LEAST one FCD Academy product in the USMNT's starting lineup in every single World Cup qualifier (14 games). Six different former FCD Academy players started in World Cup qualifying for the US: Kellyn Acosta, Reggie Cannon, Jesús Ferreira, Weston McKennie, Ricardo Pepi, Chris Richards.
FC Dallas Academy products scored 29% of the USMNT's goals during World Cup qualifying. Of the 21 goals the USMNT scored during WCQ, six of them were scored by FC Dallas Academy graduates: Pepi (3 goals), McKennie (2 goals), Ferreira (1 goal).
While three FCD Academy alums in the World Cup squad is impressive, there were plenty more on the cusp. Former FCD Homegrowns Reggie Cannon, Ricardo Pepi and Chris Richards – who have since made the jump to Europe – all contributed during qualifying but missed out on the final cut (Richards is injured while Cannon and Pepi were presumably coach’s decisions).
The same holds true for current Dallas players Paul Arriola and Sebastian Lletget. Lletget, who signed with FCD this summer, played four qualifying games but hasn’t featured since late 2021. On the other hand, Arriola has been a nearly ever-present fixture in the USMNT under Berhalter. The 27-year-old winger played in five qualifiers and was an unused substitute for four more while also featuring in four of the USMNT’s six non-World Cup qualifying games in 2022.
“If I’m meant to be (at the World Cup), I will be. And if not, I’ll be cheering them on like everyone else,” Arriola told FCDallas.com before the roster announcement last week. “That’s the beauty of it. I’m excited to see the whole country rally up for the team once again. Obviously, it’s been a really long time and I think the fans and the people in this country are really excited for the potential that we have. Not just now but going forward into the future as well.”
The USMNT starts World Cup play on Nov. 21 against before facing England on Nov. 25. It rounds out its group stage against Iran on Nov. 29. All games kickoff at 1PM CT on FOX.