Josh Sargent Is The Future And The Future Is Now

A few groans went out across the country when Bobby Wood was given the start against Colombia in the USMNT’s friendly on Thursday in Florida. The reason was made clear on Tuesday night when Josh Sargent got his chance against Peru.

Sargent, an 18-year-old native of Missouri, showed that he’s the future for the U.S. at the striker position with some excellent hold-up play, passing and — most importantly — goal scoring as the USMNT tied Peru 1-1 on Tuesday in Connecticut. 

Sargent was one of nine new starters from the Colombia game chosen by Dave Sarachan. The man who was named interim coach just over a year ago played a young lineup with the average age of 23 years and 157 days, including an average of 9.6 caps per player in the starting lineup. Jonathan Amon became the sixth teenager given a chance for the U.S. this calendar year, one of three players given debuts on the night (along with Reggie Cannon and Aaron Long).

But one teenager stood out for the USMNT, and for once it wasn’t Christian Pulisic (who is now 20, so we have to find a new teenage phenom to hype in America). 

Josh Sargent started up front — his second career USMNT start in five appearances — and outside of an ill-advised lazy pass in the ninth minute was excellent throughout. It culminated in the opening goal in the 49th minute. 

Sure, the ball took a couple deflections, but the contact was good enough and it counts all the same. It was Sargent’s second career USMNT goal, the first coming in a 3-0 win over Bolivia in May. 

In addition to Sargent’s goal, the Werder Bremen II striker combined well with outside midfielders Amon and Tim Weah, setting up both with great forays forward in his 69 minutes on the pitch. 

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In the 15th minute, a clever flick set Amon free, only for the 19-year-old to misplay a pass to Weah, 18 (and two days younger than Sargent). 

Early in the second half, before his goal, Sargent held the ball up well before laying off to set up Weah, who hit wide. And in the first half when the U.S. couldn’t get the ball from Peru, Sargent tracked back and helped out on defense (although it left the U.S. with no outlet). 

Overall, it was a strong performance from a kid who has scored at every level he’s played at. He scored 25 goals in 44 games with the U.S. U-17 team and has four goals in five matches with the U-20 team. He now has two goals in five games with the full national team.

As promising as Sargent was, the U.S. was not without its problems. 

The back line looked shaky, especially at left back again. After Brazil and then Colombia targeted Antonee Robinson in two recent friendlies, Ben Sweat got the start at left back but didn’t prove to be much better. Cameron Carter-Vickers and Wil Trapp were the only two consistent players on defense for the U.S., but the midfield was incapable of maintaining possession for long stretches. 

Amon struggled to pick out the right pass in his 55-minute debut and Marco Delgado was a bit too invisible for a central midfielder (though he looked decent when he did get on the ball). 

Then there was this attempted corner kick by Kellyn Acosta. 

With all the youth on the field to start, Sarachan brought in some experience in the second half after the goal. Bobby Wood replaced Sargent, DeAndre Yedlin replaced Cannon and Michael Bradley came on for Acosta for his 142nd career cap, breaking a tie with Clint Dempsey for third most in U.S. history. 

Not that it helped the Americans hold onto the lead. 

The U.S. struggled mightily to hold onto the ball, conceding a shocking 69 percent of possession. Eventually, after Andy Polo drilled the post, Peru broke through when Yedlin, who had just come on, was caught napping at the back post as Edison Flores equalized in the 86th minute.

The goal interrupted the Mexico-Chile friendly that had just begun. 

But at least the goal made Steven Tyler happy. Oh, sorry, that was Peru coach Ricardo Gareca. 

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