HERRIMAN, Utah (Monday, August 23, 2021) – Real Salt Lake forward Justin Meram has been called in to the Iraq National Team for World Cup Qualifying matches against South Korea on September 2 and Iran on September 7. Meram is expected to depart following RSL’s road match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Sunday, August 29 and return prior to facing LAFC on Sunday, September 12.
“I’m excited to be back in the fold. I’m thankful for the new coach Dick Advocaat to call me back in,” Meram said. “I’ve been doing well with RSL and I’m eager to play in some important matches for Iraq.”
Meram, 32, has four goals and five assists in 40 matches since coming to Real Salt Lake prior to the 2020 season, including one goal and two assists in 18 matches this year. In his MLS career, he has 47 goals and 41 assists in 283 appearances in 11 seasons with the Columbus Crew, Orlando City SC, Atlanta United and RSL.
In 33 appearances for Iraq, Meram has four goals, three of which have come in World Cup Qualifying matches. He made his debut in 2014, but has not appeared in a match since 2019.
“It’s an honor for Justin and it’s a great thing that players are getting noticed. The quality of football in MLS is at a high level where players can continue to grow and still contribute to their national teams,” RSL Head Coach Freddy Juarez said. “We are very proud of Justin and happy for him. Hopefully he can go help his country reach a World Cup.”
Iraq will play two friendlies in Turkey against Turkish clubs to prepare for the first matches in 2022 World Cup Qualifying. The first qualifier against South Korea will be played at Seoul World Cup Stadium in South Korea while the second will be at Al-Gharrafa Stadium in Doha, Qatar. In Round 3 of World Cup Qualifying for the Asian Football Confederation, Iraq is in Group A with Iran, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Syria and Lebanon. The top two teams from each of the AFC’s two groups will qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, with the third place teams advancing to the fourth round. Iraq’s lone World Cup appearance came in 1986 in Mexico
Real Salt Lake is 7-7-6 (27 points) and sixth in the Western Conference entering play this weekend. RSL will face Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Sunday, August 29 with kickoff at 8:30 p.m. MT. The match will be broadcast live locally on KMYU and ESPN 700, with the live stream on the KSL TV app.