The world’s biggest sporting event kicks off this weekend with billions of viewers around the world set to watch the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The US men’s national soccer team’s first game is Monday and three players who grew up in North Texas are on the roster.
“Ecstatic, I mean, it’s incredible that it’s finally here. We’ve been talking about this for four years,” said Kenneth Acosta, father of USMNT member Kellyn Acosta.
Now, in a few days, he will watch his son on the global stage.
“I’m thrilled to be attending in person instead of watching on TV like I usually do,” said Kenneth Acosta.
Born in Plano, Kellyn Acosta started playing football at the age of 4. He now plays for LAFC but started his career with FC Dallas.
Retired Army veteran John McKennie is another proud father heading to Qatar. His son Weston McKennie was born in Fort Lewis, Washington but grew up in Little Elm.
“He plays hard. He enjoys it and is always respectful because those are the things I’ve been telling him since he was 6 and started playing the game,” said John McKennie.
Weston now plays for Juventus FC in Italy, one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“It’s a dream come true for him,” said John McKennie.
Another North Texan with the USMNT: McKinney’s Jesus Ferreira, who signed to the FC Dallas pro roster at the age of 16. He’s a star for the team now.
“He was our team’s MVP and top scorer,” said Chris Hayden, vice president of youth soccer and academy director at FC Dallas.
Ferreira’s father also played for FC Dallas.
“Having a father and son who played for a club is unique enough, but for Jesus to then follow in his father’s footsteps and be so successful in our first team and then get into the men’s national team is outstanding.” said Hayden.
Hayden says all three local World Cup athletes graduated from the team’s academy.
“Obviously it’s every boy’s and girl’s dream to play in the World Cup and so it’s just great for us to have a bunch of players representing the USA on this world stage,” said Hayden.
Words of encouragement from TV’s favorite football coach have surfaced across the country, including North Texas.
Billboard notes for Kellyn, Weston and Jesus are all autographed by Ted Lasso.
“I’m a big Ted Lasso fan, so I saw the billboard. I think they’re pretty smart,” Hayden said.
The US men play Wales on Monday and have a game against England on Friday.