Preview: Salloi and Hungary to host mighty England in World Cup qualifying

Daniel Salloi joins Hungary national team

Hungary vs. England
2022 World Cup Qualifying | UEFA Group I
Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 | 1:45 p.m. CT
Puskas Arena | Budapest, Hungary
Streaming on ESPN Plus

Sporting Kansas City forward Daniel Salloi has joined the Hungary Men’s National Team for 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying, which will continue in earnest on Thursday when the Magyars host UEFA Euro 2020 runners-up England in a colossal showdown at Puskas Arena in Budapest. Kickoff is slated for 1:45 p.m. CT and fans can catch the mouthwatering matchup live on ESPN Plus.

Currently enjoying a sensational 2021 MLS campaign, Salloi is part of Hungary’s senior national team for the first time since September 2018. He previously represented Hungary in 2019 UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifying, scoring once in four appearances from November 2017 to March 2018, and now stands a chance to land his senior international debut against one of the world's most talented national teams.

Led by Italian head coach Marco Rossi, Hungary began their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign in March with a draw against Poland and wins over San Marino and Andorra. The Magyars are two points behind first-place England with seven qualifiers still to play between now and Nov. 15. The first-place finisher in the six-team group will qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, while the second-place team will progress to a World Cup playoff round contested among other second-place UEFA nations in March 2022.

Seeking their first World Cup appearance since 1986, Hungary have lost just twice in 16 matches since international soccer resumed last September following a hiatus due to the pandemic. The Magyars are coming off an admirable performance at the UEFA European Championship this summer that included draws against France and Germany, each of the last two FIFA World Cup champions, as well as a late loss to 2016 Euro winner Portugal.

At No. 37 in the latest FIFA rankings, Hungary wields a formidable squad that features captain and forward Adam Szalai of German Bundesliga club Mainz, fellow Bundesliga striker Roland Sallai and a trio of RB Leipzig stars in midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai, defender Willi Orban and goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi. Salloi is one of three MLS players on the roster alongside FC Dallas winger Szabolcs Schon and Philadelphia Union midfielder Daniel Gazdag.

Awaiting Hungary is a fourth-ranked England side that lost to Italy on penalties in the UEFA Euro 2020 final earlier this summer. Under the guidance of Gareth Southgate, England boasts a wealth of Premier League talent with the likes of Tottenham striker Harry Kane and Manchester City playmakers Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish spearheading the team.

England were remarkably stingy at the European Championship, conceding twice in seven games with Harry Maguire, John Stones, Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier and anchoring the backline.

Salloi leads MLS with 18 combined goals (12) and assists (six) this season for a Sporting side that occupies second place in the Western Conference, two points behind leaders Seattle Sounders FC. The forward is tied for second in the MLS Golden Boot race and is tied for first in MLS with 12 non-penalty goals.

Now in his sixth season with Sporting, Salloi has started 18 of 21 MLS matches in 2021 and scored or assisted in 11 of his last 16 league appearances. With five game-winning goals and three game-winning assists, he has scored or assisted the match winner in eight of Sporting’s 11 victories this year.

After hosting England on Thursday, Salloi and Hungary will resume their Group I campaign by visiting Albania at 11 a.m. CT Sunday and welcoming Andorra on Sept. 8 at 1:45 p.m. CT.