When Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan were unveiled as members of the U.S. Men’s National Team squad for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar last week, they weren’t the only members of the Sounders organization at the event.
Sounders FC President of Business Peter Tomozawa and Chief Operating Officer Maya Mendoza-Exstrom attended the roster reveal as part of their roles in the organizing committee bringing FIFA World Cup 2026 to Seattle.
According to both Tomozawa and Mendoza-Exstrom, it was thrilling to see the hard work of two players they’ve watched grow up in Seattle get rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“As a person who’s been in and around the club since 2015, and the father of a former Sounders Academy kid, I couldn’t be prouder of seeing another Academy product in Jordan Morris make the USMNT and represent our country,” Tomozawa told SoundersFC.com “And Cristian Roldan has been the embodiment of everything that we think of as a leader and a player within our organization.”
A lifelong member of the Seattle soccer community and longtime member of the Sounders organization, Mendoza-Exstrom echoed those sentiments.
“I was thrilled,” she said. “It means a lot to our community to have that level of representation. More importantly, you’re talking about two really good human beings that have really invested themselves in the community to make it a better place. I could not imagine two better people to be ambassadors of not only of Sounders FC but all of us here in Seattle and in Washington state.”
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The FIFA World Cup is far and away the biggest sporting event on the planet, with five billion people projected to watch the 2022 tournament in Qatar. It’s an opportunity for Seattle and the Sounders to continue to grow their soccer reputations on the world stage.
“I think it tells everyone where we are that we have two players on the national team as far as the quality of the play that we have [in Seattle],” added Tomozawa. “We’re super proud that Cristian and Jordan are part of this.”
The pair’s inclusion on the USMNT roster also highlights the club’s successful player development pathway to a global audience.
“It’s indicative of the investment that we’ve made to develop and nurture talent locally,” said Mendoza-Exstrom. “Both of them have connections to multiple stages of our development pipeline. Jordan was an Academy product and Cristian spent time with Tacoma Defiance (formerly S2) before he broke into the First Team. It’s important for us that all those pieces of the pathway are also represented and visible here.”
When you factor in some of the generational opportunities for the Sounders and soccer in Seattle in the coming years, FIFA World Cup 2022 is really a launching point for a wave of growth for soccer in our region.
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“I fundamentally believe that soccer has the capacity to change the world,” said Mendoza-Exstrom. “The reality of Seattle being a global soccer city is a dream that is multiple generations old. I think as we look ahead and think about the import both the FIFA Club World Cup next year and this runway we have to 2026, it’s pretty remarkable to think about what this new dream looks like. This dream has come true, and the sky is the limit for what this event can do for this city and this sport in this region.”
Added Tomozawa: “This is just part of what’s to come. These next few years as we build into Seattle 2026, the excitement over what’s going to be happening here in Seattle, this is really just the start of it all. In 2024, we’re going to have our 50th anniversary of the Seattle Sounders. This is a big step, but it’s a march and progression that’s going to take soccer to the next level in our country.”
With the FIFA World Cup 2022 set to kick off in less than week, Tomozawa and Mendoza-Exstrom will head to Qatar to observe the tournament and begin planning for the 2026 edition in Seattle.
“Our objective is to have the best World Cup in the history of World Cups,” said Tomozawa. “Full stop.”