Caps in Soccer Explained During 2022 FIFA World Cup


As the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar continues, one of the most common terms you’re likely hearing when players are being analyzed is “caps.”

No, this does not refer to a type of hat a player is wearing. Rather, it is a term associated with their senior national team. 

Let’s take a deep dive into the phrase’s history and how it is used today:

What do caps mean in soccer?

Caps in soccer refer to the number of appearances a player has made with their senior national team, so their club is not affiliated with this number. 

The term is said to have originated from the United Kingdom, when players were awarded physical caps to mark their involvements in international matches. Though those physical caps are a thing of the past, it is still one of the highest honors a player can achieve in the sport.

How does a player earn a cap?

A player can earn a cap only by playing in an international game. Simply being named to the squad is not enough, as a player must log minutes in a certain game to count. 

What types of games count as a cap?

According to FIFA’s regulations handbook, caps are only awarded in International “A” games, which are the following: World Cup games, World Cup qualifiers, continental competitions and its qualifying games, friendly games between senior national teams and Olympic games and its qualifiers.  

Who has the most caps in soccer history?

As of October 2022, Bader Al-Mutawa of Kuwait has the most caps in soccer history with 196, according to FIFA. His last game was on June 14, 2022, against Jordan in the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers, so the 37-year-old could become the first to hit the exclusive 200 mark soon. Here are the six players with at least 180 caps as of [ADD DATE]:

  1. Bader Al-Mutawa, Kuwait: 196 and counting
  2. Soh Chin Ann, Malaysia: 195, retired
  3. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal: 191 and counting
  4. Ahmed Hassan, Egypt: 184, retired
  5. Ahmed Mubarak, Oman: 183 and counting
  6. Sergio Ramos, Spain: 180 and counting

Who has the most caps in USMNT history?

Former midfielder Cobi Jones has the most caps in USMNT history with 164. Here are the top five players with the most caps in USMNT history:

  1. Cobi Jones: 164, retired
  2. Landon Donovan: 157, retired
  3. Michael Bradley: 151, retired
  4. Clint Dempsey: 141, retired
  5. Jeff Agoos: 134, retired

Which current USMNT player has the most caps?

The USMNT has taken a youth-based approach the last few years after missing out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and that is reflected on the list of current players with the most caps. 

Going into Qatar, right back DeAndre Yedlin is the current USMNT player with the most caps with 74, which ranks 32nd in the team’s history. Here are the top five:

  1. DeAndre Yedlin: 75 and counting
  2. Gyasi Zardes: 67 and counting
  3. Kellyn Acosta: 53 and counting
  4. Christian Pulisic: 51 and counting
  5. Jordan Morris: 48 and counting
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