For all the thrill across the newest younger batch of USMNT prospects — a fast take a look at their potential can not help however make followers dream a little bit — there are nonetheless query marks over who would be the predominant man up entrance to attain the objectives that lead them into the 2022 World Cup.
When you have the excellent Christian Pulisic already settled on one wing and Giovanni Reyna doubtless taking part in within the attacking midfielder position, there’s a notable emptiness at striker. The distinction has been shifted round over the previous few years, however inevitably comes again to Jozy Altidore. He will likely be 32 when the following World Cup arrives, by no means thoughts the lingering questions over whether or not he’s nonetheless ok.
That mentioned, there are a variety of potential choices unfold round Europe.
When one MLS sporting director was requested by ESPN who they’d begin up entrance, the response was brief and to the purpose: “Josh Sargent.”
Sargent hasn’t scored in 438 league minutes this season for Werder Bremen, his solely purpose of the marketing campaign to date coming within the German Cup in opposition to third-tier Carl Zeiss Jena. Though he is frolicked on the precise wing on the tail finish of final season and initially of this one, he is now being performed up prime.
Though his adaptability is one in every of his enormous strengths, it is at striker the place his long-term future lies. That very same MLS sporting director informed ESPN that for all his time floating across the attacking positions, “Sargent is a center-forward, easy.” He was left off the 2019 Gold Cup squad, a snub that affected him — however he’s a resilient man, used to dealing with the unpredictability of top-level soccer, and he might show to be the tip of the diamond in a ahead lineup of Pulisic, Reyna and probably Jordan Morris or Gyasi Zardes.
Whereas Sargent is one apparent alternative, elsewhere in Europe there are some effervescent properly as others wrestle to state their declare. Sebastian Soto made an offseason switch from Hannover 96 to Norwich and is now on mortgage at SC Telstar within the Dutch second tier, the place he has scored 5 objectives in six video games. There have been rumors he was considering switching his allegiance from the United States to Chile, so if he is picked for the November internationals, he’ll affirm his dedication.
Of the opposite gamers more likely to characteristic within the subsequent batch of USMNT friendlies, Tim Weah and Konrad de la Fuente are nonetheless seeking to set up themselves at Lille and Barcelona, respectively. De la Fuente has skilled some first-team motion for Barcelona, however will get most of his sport time with Barca B this yr on the wing. Weah is taking part in off the bench at center-forward for Lille, however has not been taking part in a complete lot after lacking most of final season by way of harm.
The much-admired Nicholas Gioacchini, 20, was on the USMNT radar earlier this yr, sources informed ESPN, and has two objectives in seven matches for SC Caen in Ligue 2. He’s switching between the precise wing and center-forward positions, however he is coming alongside properly; although he’s additionally eligible for Italy, France and Jamaica, he mentioned not too long ago he’d go to the U.S. “along with his eyes closed” in the event that they got here calling.
Tyler Boyd and Bobby Wood have additionally been choices up to now, however neither has loved the best of begins to the 2020-21 marketing campaign. Boyd is out of the Besiktas squad because of a cap on foreigners, which implies he will likely be blocked from getting sport time till he can safe a transfer within the January switch window. Wooden, 27, has made simply three substitute appearances for two. Bundesliga facet Hamburg.
One other wild card may very well be Andrija Novakovich, who’s at Alessandro Nesta’s Frosinone in Serie B and may very well be one to reemerge from the shadows. He gained the final of his three USMNT caps in 2018 and has two objectives in six video games for his membership facet this time period. Different choices, who’re but to declare their worldwide allegiance, are Arsenal‘s New York-born Folarin Balogun, 18, and ex-France youth worldwide Jordan Siebatcheu, who’s on mortgage at Younger Boys from Rennes.
The widespread theme right here is that potential USMNT center-forwards are largely taking part in out on the wing for his or her membership sides. If U.S. supervisor Gregg Berhalter is objectives per sport and extra conventional strikers then, as one supply recommended to ESPN, the solutions to the conundrum are in Scandinavia.
Icelandic American Aron Johannsson gained the final of his 19 USMNT caps in 2015, however take a look at his scoring document this season: he has 13 objectives in 22 matches for Hammarby. Switching between a false 9 and No. 10 position, he has been ruthless, displaying a few of his finest type after a couple of injury-plagued years. He is one who might characteristic within the November friendlies, and one supply informed ESPN: “Do not low cost him; he’ll be in competition.” He might not be at Hammarby for lengthy, both, with curiosity being proven in him from former membership AZ Alkmaar, MLS and Russia, sources informed ESPN.
After which there’s Haji Wright and Emmanuel Sabbi. Wright, 22, has 5 objectives in seven contests for Danish Superligaen facet SonderjyskE after barren seasons at Schalke and VVV-Venlo. He began the season on the bench, however his brace in opposition to Aalborg in spherical three noticed him pressure his means into the primary XI and he marked that event with a purpose in opposition to Brondby in mid-October. Sabbi has additionally discovered success in Denmark, having scored two objectives in six for Odense whereas primarily taking part in out vast.
When you’re seeking to sketch out a U.S. workforce for the 2022 World Cup, then you’ll be able to count on a 4-2-3-1 with Altidore the only real striker, a supply near the workforce informed ESPN. The final feeling is that Berhalter is hoping Sargent emerges earlier than then, however that is still an enormous if. In addition they are hoping for large issues from Jeremy Ebobisse of the Portland Timbers, however till somebody actually grasps that chance, it’s going to be Altidore or Zardes up entrance with a supporting forged of Pulisic, Reyna and certain Morris.
It might find yourself being “objectives by committee,” one supply mentioned, however there’s a chance to turn out to be the USMNT’s go-to striker getting into the 2022 World Cup. — Tom Hamilton
USMNT Inventory Watch: Who’s up? Who’s down?
How are the gamers Berhalter will likely be relying upon for World Cup qualifying performing with their golf equipment? ESPN’s correspondents from all over the world convey you inside data to assist clarify the successes and stumbles of American gamers plying their commerce abroad.
Ale Moreno praises the efficiency of Sergino Dest in his first-ever El Clasico regardless of Barcelona’s 3-1 defeat.
Sergino Dest, Barcelona — On the rise : The precise-back has made a dazzling start to life in Spain, trying assured first within the Champions League in opposition to Ferencvaros after which within the Clasico on the weekend in opposition to Real Madrid, when he was Barcelona’s finest participant. Dest, who has been beginning instead of the injured Jordi Alba however long run is anticipated to play on the precise, has drawn rave evaluations from the employees at Barca, with sources telling ESPN’s Sam Marsden that they can not consider how shortly he is settled in regardless of being simply 19 and coming to one of many largest golf equipment on the earth. Sources added that Dest has thrown himself absolutely into life at Barcelona, promising to be taught each Spanish and Catalan, and instantly house in Barcelona’s fast passing sport.
Bobby Wooden, Hamburg — Trending down : At one stage the USMNT’s most constant purpose scorer, Wooden has seemingly disappeared up to now two seasons. Nonetheless not 28, Wooden hasn’t performed for the U.S. since 2018, and at current is discovering sport time powerful to return by within the 2. Bundesliga with Hamburg. He is solely made three substitute appearances this time period, a dramatic fall for a participant who as soon as scored 17 objectives in a season at this degree and later was a Bundesliga common. Whereas the objectives have dried up, it might not be all doom and gloom for Wooden, as new Hamburg supervisor Daniel Thioune informed ESPN’s Stephan Uersfeld that he charges what he sees with Wooden. For now although, Wooden is trending down, as he has didn’t crack Hamburg’s beginning XI this season and has not scored a membership purpose since Nov. 2018.
Sebastian Soto, Telstar (on mortgage from Norwich) — On the rise : The 20-year-old continued his red-hot begin at mortgage membership Telstar, scoring each objectives in a 2-0 win at Helmond Sport final weekend. With 5 objectives in six video games to date within the Dutch second tier, Soto continues to showcase elite goal-scoring instincts and a knack for being in the precise place on the proper time. The largest query remaining is who he will represent at the international level. Eligible for each the United States and Chile, the Real Salt Lake academy product is awaiting his first senior call-up and will have an enormous resolution to make come November. “I’ve heard each nations need me, however till I get one thing that’s really official, then I haven’t got a call to make. I’m simply ready,” Soto not too long ago told Dutch broadcaster NH Sport.
Jonathan Amon Nordsjælland — Trending down : Extra dangerous luck for the 21-year-old South Carolina native. After taking part in — and scoring a winner off the bench — in his first membership sport for 13 months two weeks in the past, Amon reinjured his knee and now will bear one other surgical procedure. The winger, who appeared energetic in two caps for the U.S. on the finish of 2018 and begin of 2019, has a fracture in his knee and now faces one other prolonged spell on the sideline. This week’s setback is the newest in a collection of dangerous harm breaks for Amon, with Nordsjaelland sporting director Jan Laursen calling the news “almost unbearable.”
A couple of minutes with … Matt Miazga
Given what Pulisic has performed these days at Chelsea, it’s simple to overlook that central defender Matt Miazga was the primary younger American to make the transfer to Stamford Bridge again in 2016.
Now 25, Miazga not too long ago joined Belgian giants Anderlecht on a season-long mortgage, the place he’ll proceed his improvement underneath Vincent Kompany, one of many prime center-backs of the previous decade.
Tom Hamilton caught up with Miazga to speak about his new membership, his future at Chelsea, working with Kompany, his place inside the US males’s nationwide workforce and way more.
Chelsea loanee and USMNT defender Matt Miazga chats with ESPN about taking part in for Vincent Kompany at Anderlecht.
USMNT defender Matt Miazga tells ESPN he’s excited by the rise of younger American skills in Europe.
Scouting report: Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona B)
“Konrad,” as he is merely recognized in Spain, has represented the US at most youth workforce ranges and rose to prominence as a 17-year-old on the Beneath-20 World Cup final summer time. The vast man with a seemingly countless repertoire of trickery was drafted into the Barcelona first-team squad in September and subsequently made his debut in a preseason pleasant.
Fast off the mark, good one-v-one offensively and with sturdy steadiness, the 2001-born attacker prefers to function on the left-wing, typically side-stepping opponents to chop inside on his favored proper foot. His boyhood hero was Barcelona legend Ronaldinho, however on the pitch, he attracts a more in-depth comparability to a different Brazilian: ex-Barcelona star Neymar. Like the 2 South People, Konrad enjoys setting off on dazzling runs and, as soon as he hits prime pace, he has an identical means to make a full-back look silly.
Having already attracted praise from manager Ronald Koeman, the younger American is trying so as to add extra consistency to his sport. Enhancing his workforce play and dealing much more on his weaker left foot will likely be key as he knocks on the door of a senior debut at Camp Nou.