BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – The road to the 2026 World Cup begins this weekend as part of FIFA’s international break and the United States men’s national team has a pair of friendlies this month. Two members of the 24-player roster for Saturday’s friendly against Uzbekistan on September, 9 and next Tuesday’s, September, 12, matchup against Oman are from the Birmingham area. 21-year-old Tanner Tessman was enjoying a nice dinner in Venice, where he plays club ball with Venezia, when he received a text from Gregg Berhalter that he was being called up.
“Not a lot of players from Alabama have made their debut for the national team,” Tessman said. “Only Chris (Richards), myself, and I think Brandon Servania has one. You know, it’s an honor for sure to be a part of this group and this campaign, try to go to this World Cup and make a statement.”
Hoover native Chris Richards was actually spotted this past summer at a Birmingham Legion soccer game. He added that he met with new co-owner of the club, Dominique Wilkins. Both Richards and Tessman said that they keep tabs on the growth of the sport in the Magic City.
“Hearing the national anthem before the game and looking out into the crowd and just seeing the people that you represent, it means the world to me,” Richards said. Keep in mind, the next World Cup in 2026 will take place in the United States with Atlanta being one of the host cities. The men’s team begins with their first friendly in St. Louis on Saturday with kickoff set for 4:30 p.m. CT.