USMNT to Reveal World Cup Roster on Nov. 9: How Many Californians Will Make It?

Californians are likely to account for at least three of the 26 spots on the US Men’s National Team’s World Cup roster when the final list is unveiled in New York on Nov. 9.

Granted, head coach Gregg Berhalter has great leeway in deciding what team he takes to Qatar and the team’s first match on Nov. 21 against Wales. But judging from performances in the qualifications and friendlies leading up to the unusual fall World Cup, assumptions can be made on several slots.

Injuries and performance related to the ongoing MLS playoffs are a factor — a major one for a particular California product.

For now, here’s what we think we know:

The Locks

Paul Arriola, Chula Vista

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The 27-year-old FC Dallas forward is stuck in a deep pool of talented options but should make the flight as a depth piece. His experience is a major plus. The right winger scored after starting against both Panama (World Cup qualifying) and Grenada (Nations League) this year, but if he makes the team, he’ll be looking up at the likes of Christian Pulisic, Timothy Weah, and Jesus Ferreira. He had left a playoff game with a groin injury that’s not believed to be serious.

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Background: The Mater Dei Catholic and iHigh Virtual Academy attendee holds a passport from Mexico (his great grandparents were born there), and became a professional with Club Tijuana in 2013, citing its proximity to his hometown. He joined DC United in 2017 and had a brief English Championship stint with Swansea in 2021 before coming back to the US to join FC Dallas. Arriola has played for the US at every level. He has scored 10 goals in 48 appearances for the senior squad.

Aaron Long, Oak Hills

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Walker Zimmerman has established himself as the starter at center back, but Long, the 30-year-old New York Red Bulls standout, seems to be a clear second after starting six USMNT matches through a scoreless tie with Saudi Arabia on Sept. 27. His spotty performances in the MLS since returning from an Achilles injury have created some doubt. Long has three goals and two assists in 29 international appearances.

Background: The Serrano High letterman in football and soccer played four seasons at UC Riverside, scoring 13 goals and recording five assists. Taken in the second round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft by Portland, he’s tallied 12 goals in 139 appearances in the league. He has three goals in 29 national team appearances since his call-up in 2018.

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Luca de la Torre, San Diego

(AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King, file)

The 24-year-old midfielder for Celta Vigo in Spain’s La Liga has 10 national team appearances, four in World Cup qualifiers. He’s not likely to crack the starting lineup with 19-year-old Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah ahead of him on the right side — by an increasing margin as qualifications progressed. But his ticket should be punched. If tickets got punched anymore.

Background: De la Torre also holds a passport from Spain, the birthplace of his father. Born and raised in San Diego, de la Torre was a product of local youth leagues before moving to England to join Fulham’s academy in 2013. He played parts of four seasons with the London club, including the 2018-19 campaign after promotion to the Premier League. (He made only two League Cup appearances.) De la Toree later joined Heracles in the Dutch top division and became a standard starter. A product of the US youth program, he reached the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup quarterfinals. He debuted for the senior team in 2018.

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The Maybe

Cristian Roldan, Artesia

(AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

The 27-year-old Seattle Sounders midfielder is in a tough fight for a roster spot for multiple reasons. First, he failed to capitalize when an injury to Musah created a shuffle and opportunity. But Roldan’s allure for Berhalter could be in his versatility. While he’s not asserted himself enough to push through a solid starting midfield group of Tyler Adams, Weston McKinnie, and Musah, he’s an able plug-and-play on a team that’s had injury concerns.

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If his health doesn’t keep him state-side, that is. Roldan underwent surgery in late August for a sports hernia. The hope was that he could be fit after a 4-6-week recuperation and ready for consideration for Qatar. It’s going to be close.

Background: Roldan was the 2013 California high school player of the year as a senior at El Rancho High after leading the Dons to a 29-2-1 record and scoring 54 goals with 31 assists. Also offered a call-up by El Salvador, he joined the US U-20 team and earned his first senior team appearance in 2017. Roldan beat out 110 other kids as a 9-year-old to be featured in an Adidas commercial.

About the Author

Brant James

Brant James is a Senior Contributor with California Casinos, canvassing events and trends in the gambling industry. He has covered the American sports betting industry in the United States since before professional sports teams even knew what an official gaming partnership entailed. Before focusing on the gambling industry, James was a nationally acclaimed motorsports writer and a long-time member of the National Hockey League media corps, formerly writing for USA Today, ESPN, and the Tampa Bay Times.