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Three metro Atlanta natives named to U.S. World Cup squad

Defenders Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore and keeper Sean Johnson will all bring their Atlanta roots to Qatar this month.

ATLANTA — Atlanta, a 2026 World Cup host city, will be well-represented at the more immediate World Cup that kicks off this month in Qatar.

The United States announced its World Cup roster on Wednesday. It features Lawrenceville's Walker Zimmerman, Powder Springs native Shaq Moore and Lilburn's Sean Johnson.

Zimmerman is a central defender who is likely to start in all of the U.S. Men's National Team's games in Qatar, after featuring as a first-choice center back and playing all 90 minutes in the final two pre-World Cup warm-up matches for the U.S.

The Nashville SC star and Brookwood High School alum told media in a conference call on Wednesday it was an honor to be representing the Atlanta area on the world stage. 

"I think it's really cool when you go to a World Cup and you're on the world's biggest stage, you know you're representing so much more than just yourself," he said. "You represent your country, your club team or your hometown, where you're from, and for us to be able to represent Atlanta and the growing youth soccer scene there is amazing. And hopefully we can inspire kids the same way Clint Mathis from Georgia inspired us. It's just a fun part of the job to be able to inspire people and represent your hometown."

Johnson, a New York City FC goalkeeper, is also a Brookwood alum and has long been in the mix as a keeper for the U.S. As one of the team's two primary backups, he could vie with Ethan Horvath for a chance to start in Qatar if top-choice keeper Matt Turner, who's currently battling a slight injury, isn't fully fit for the World Cup.

Moore, who also plays for Nashville SC, is a right-back who was something of a more surprising selection to the team. He only played twice for the U.S. this year, back in February and March in a pair of the team's last couple qualifying matches. He'll be in a bit of a crowded mix for playing time between others who play a similar role and were selected, among them DeAndre Yedlin, Joe Scally and Sergiño Dest, but said he was relishing the opportunity to make a mark.

"It's great to represent the South - I have roots in Florida as well... those kids that kind of wish they could have a chance, know that it's possible seeing two guys that came from where they come from to actually play in a World Cup is great," he said.

The U.S. plays its first game at the 2022 World Cup on Nov. 21 against Wales, with their next two group games on Nov. 25 against England and Nov. 29 against Iran.

If they finish among the top two teams from those four, they would be among the 16 teams to advance to the knockout rounds.


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