Sergio Busquets will be there. So will Gerard Piqué and Cesc Fábregas. When Catalonia takes the field on Monday against Cape Verde, eight Barcelona players will be in uniform as the autonomous region plays a rare international match, with one young Major League Soccer talent getting a surprise opportunity to join them.
Oriol Rosell, who just completed an MLS Cup-winning campaign with Sporting Kansas City, was called into to the 22-man squad, a team that also features Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Sergio Garcia (Espanyol) and Joan Capdevilla (Espanyol).
The match, to be played at the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys in Barcelona, is the team’s first game since a Jan. 2 draw against Nigeria, and while Catalonia (part of Spain) is not recognized by FIFA, the recall still puts Rosell in select company. Only one other player in the squad plays outside the Spanish Primera Division, with Barcelona loanee Bojan Krkic currently playing at Ajax.
“It will be an amazing experience to play with these players,” Rosell told Sporting Kansas City’s web site. “They have a lot of quality and are some of the best in the world … I always say I’m from Catalonia and now to be with the first team with those great players will be a very emotional experience for me.”
Rosell is a former Barcelona youth product, but he has no international experience. Eligible to play for Spain, he has never been recalled to a national team, be it on the youth or senior level. After this second year in Kansas City, however, the defensive midfielder has drawn the attention of the Catalonia Football Federation, with new coach Gerard López choosing to honor him with a recall.
“I am happy that Uri will have the opportunity to play alongside some of the world’s best players,” Sporting head coach Peter Vermes explained. “[T]his is a great way for Uri to cap off what’s been an excellent year for him.”
In his first full season in Major League Soccer, Rosell started 31 games and recorded a goal and two assists. Replacing Julio Cesar at the base of Sporting’s midfield, the 21-year-old was a key part of Vermes’ MLS Cup winning squad, though Rosell had to leave Dec. 7’s championship game early with an injured foot.
Now he rejoins the likes of Sergi Roberto, Christian Tello, Marc Bartra, and Martín Montoya – fellow Catalan recalls who have recently graduated from La Masia.