The Soccer Gods truly can be fickle, even more so on the biggest stage.
The Seattle Sounders international contingent entered the final round of World Cup matches with everything to play for. Even in a year filled with unpredictable results, having all of the Sounders representatives playing in final-round matches that matter was a pleasant surprise.
The prospect of Cameron, Ecuador and the United States making it to the knockout stages surely had the Sounders social media team salivating. In the end they’ll have to settle for one.
Not that Ecuador or Cameroon have anything to hang their heads about, as both sides saw their chances go to the final minutes of their respective matches before seeing their dreams dashed. As for the United States, well, the handwringing about the 2018 failure may never truly fade away, but it’s a distant memory now as they’ll hope to ride the momentum of their Round of 16 trip into 2026.
Cristian Roldan & Jordan Morris, USA
It was never particularly likely that Morris or Roldan would see a whole lot of time in the World Cup, unless some very specific circumstances or injuries occurred. So the Sounders duo was relegated to supporting their teammates in their quest to qualify out of the group. The USA made good on their potential — just — managing a draw against England in a match where the outplayed the Three Lions for most of it, and grinding out a 1-0 victory over Iran that seemed more about the off-field issues than play on the pitch. Regardless, the USA is on to the next round.
Morris did get off the bench to play a few minutes during stoppage time in the USA’s 3-1 loss to Netherlands in the Round of 16, but was relitaviely quiet.
What’s next: The USA’s next match isn’t until March 24, 2023 when they face Grenada in Concacaf Nations League play.
Is Nouhou capable of not being entertaining? It doesn’t appear so, as the Sounders leftback completed a three-game stretch, playing every minute for Cameroon as they exited the World Cup, despite beating Brazil 1-0 in the Group Stage finale. Nouhou opened the match by earning an early yellow card, and then was lights out for the remainder of the match. Cameroon’s undoing was the narrow 1-0 loss the Switzerland in the Group Stage opener, and the Swiss managed to hold on and defeat Serbia 3-2 in the finale, which mooted Cameroon’s hopes of advancing, though not the entertainment of Vincent Aboubakar being sent off for a second yellow after taking off his jersey in celebration.
What’s next: For Cameroon, the African Cup of Nations begins in June and Nouhou will surely be a part of that competition. Whether he's with the Sounders at that point remains to be seen, as he did nothing to hurt his value on the international market.
Xavier Arreaga, Ecuador
Like Morris and Roldan, Xavier Arreaga wasn’t likely to see much time unless some specific circumstances warranted it. Had Ecuador been leading late in their Group State finale versus Senegal, he might have merited a cameo. However Ecuador fell behind late in the match and thus were left to try to chase a goal to advance. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to find it, and despite entering the match needing only a win or draw to advance, then 2-1 defeat to Senegal means Ecuador’s World Cup is over.
What’s next: Copa América isn’t until 2024, but Arreaga will likely be in the mix for that tournament. Until then, it’s back with the Sounders as they attempt to prepare for another international competition: The Club World Cup.