DOHA — In just over a month, 32 national soccer teams will land in Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup with hopes of lifting the trophy at the end of the tournament.
The United States makes their grand return to the tournament after failing to qualify in 2018, and on November 9, head coach Gregg Berhalter will announce the squad that will don the stars and stripes.
Two Sporting Kansas City alum could be among the 26 players traveling to the middle east to represent the USMNT on the biggest stage in the sport.
Defender Erik Palmer Brown – 2013-2017
The Lee’s Summit-native was the youngest player in club history to sign a professional contract at age 16.
He made his SKC debut in 2014 and played primarily for the Swope Park Rangers, the club’s USL affiliate, now known as SKC II.
In 2016, he signed with English Premier League club Manchester City. He was immediately sent on loan to different clubs around Europe, before being permanently dealt to Troyes in France’s Ligue 1 in 2021.
He debuted for the United States in 2018 and has got his second call up in 2022.
Sports Illustrated ranks Palmer-Brown as “on the cusp”, meaning he has a good chance to be included on the final roster.
A starting role is unlikely for the traveled defender, but backing up the likes of Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long is on the table, especially with FIFA World Cup squad limits increasing from 23 to 26.
Midfielder Gianluca Busio – 2018-2021
Gianluca Busio became a fan favorite as a young star in MLS.
His vision and ability to hold-up play in the midfield caught the eye of Berhalter for the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Busio tallied one assist in the tournament as the United States went on to win the championship.
He debuted in 2018 with the Swope Park Rangers in April and eventually making his senior team debut in July.
After winning the Gold Cup, Busio made a club-record transfer to then-newly-promoted Venezia in Italy’s Serie A.
He was featured regularly in the starting lineup and scored once in his 29 appearances.
Venezia was relegated to Serie B at the end of the season and Busio signed an extension keeping him at the club.
Busio only featured once for the USMNT in 2022 and Sports Illustrated ranks him as “losing traction”.
Venezia’s relegation to a lower division and his lack of call-ups during qualifiers makes it less likely that the 20-year-old will be called up to join the likely midfielders of Tyler Adams, Yunus Musah, Weston McKennie, Kellyn Acosta and Luca de la Torre.