For the fair-weather soccer fan, and let’s be real, that’s 99 percent or more of American sports fans, the World Cup is the one event taking place over multiple weeks where general interest is at a high. The United States men’s national team didn’t make the world’s best 32 in 2018, and a huge chunk of American fans skipped the extravaganza. But the Yanks are back in 2022. Let me tell you, a lot has changed in eight years. And some things haven’t changed one iota.
This year’s World Cup will be a gut check for some of the globe’s best players and serve as an introduction to Earth for the next slew of major stars. Due to 270 minutes determining the trajectory of the world’s best programs, some bigger names will also have their international careers shortened at the event (looking at you Uruguay). Here’s a list of 15 players you need to know competing in the World Cup for varying reasons, especially for American fans tuning into soccer for the first time since 2014.