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Following standout season with Telstar, Novakovich feeling confident ahead of second USMNT match

Andrija Novakovich has plenty of reasons to be confident.

He’s fresh off a standout season at Telstar, one which saw him breakout with 22 goals. He’s also still riding the high of his first U.S. Men’s National Team appearance, one well-earned due to his performances on the club level.

Now, Novakovich is looking to make a push for both club and country, and that push begins on Monday against Bolivia.

The 21-year-old forward is one of two pure strikers called into USMNT camp ahead of the upcoming friendly. Joined by Josh Sargent, Novakovich is embracing this match as an opportunity to become more acclimated with the international game. It’s just his second camp, after all, and the Wisconsin-born forward is looking to ride some of that confidence en route to early USMNT success.

“It’s a good feeling, and you just want more and you want to keep going,” Novakovich said. “It’s an honor to come here to try and showcase as much as possible. You work hard, take your rest when you can, and be ready when called upon for club and country.

“It’s a different step. Playing on the international stage is a big step and it’s a big difference from the club level, from any level. I’m going to try and do my best, work hard and show the coaches what I can do.”

On loan from Reading, Novakovich spent all season showing what he can do. His 22 goals helped push Telstar to the precipice of promotion before the team fell in the second round of the promotion playoff.

Novakovich says he enjoyed the experience, although he’s not fully sure what’s next when it comes to his parent club.

“I think it was a combination of many things,” he said of this past season. “The staff and the coaches were brilliant. It was a good team spirit. Everybody believed in each other and we had a good team camaraderie. It was just a good feeling all around with the club. The players around me helped me achieve what I achieved. We did a lot this season together and it was a good team.

“We’re speaking now with (Reading) and my people. We’ll try and find the best solution for me and my development and what’s best for all parties.”

Heading into the USMNT’s friendly with Bolivia, Novakovich seems to be in line for a start. Head coach Dave Sarachan says Novakovich and Sargent are competing for a starting gig while the interim boss also didn’t completely shut down the idea of playing with two up top.

Sarachan pointed to Novakovich’s size as a major asset, especially with talented players like Christian Pulisic, Timothy Weah, Julian Green and Lynden Gooch as possible options on the wing.

“For a big guy he’s got more tools in his tool box in terms of movement,” Sarachan said of the forward. “His first touch and ability to play in channels, and not just be a high guy that stands there and is pretty good in the air. And he’s deceivingly fast when he gets going. I think he offers something unique in that regard.”

Novakovich is looking forward to that chance to not just prove himself, but to do so on U.S. soil. Since joining Reading in 2014, opportunities to play in the U.S. have been hard to come by.

With that, Novakovich is confident and ready following a standout season. He knows that his future remains up in the air, and that another strong performance against Bolivia could be a major launching point for the forward’s career for both club and country.

“It helps, the confidence and stuff. You always have to work hard coming into these camps,” Novakovich said. “There are some good players. Everyone is good. You have to earn everything. It’s a massive confidence boost, but we’re ready to work.”

Comments

  1. With the amount of money MLS is about to introduce in the next transfer window, I’d love to see ATL buy this contract and get him as a ready made replacement for Josef … then we can Put him in the shop window after a few seasons and recoup the investment

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  2. Now, if he could score 22 goals in the championship that would be something to cheer about. Hopefully Reading gives him a chance to play for them consistently.

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    • Same problem as Green, property of a team that treats him like an asset, loans him around, sits him when he’s back on their roster. If he finds a home, does the “asset” owner leave him be — which is probably best for the player — or feel empowered to extract more for the asset or move him to another loan spot not as friendly. When he was with Cheltenham Town, the response to his name would have been, “Who?” So like Green this will be an important summer. You don’t want to be stuck somewhere rotten on a bench when the new NT coach arrives. Ideal world he either gets released or loaned/sold back to Telstar.

      I think Americans massively overrate the value of some of these name team sign-and-loan arrangements, Adu, Garza, Miazga, etc. You aren’t actually on the first team of the name brand people are trumpeting. You might as well sign for Vitesse or Tijuana/Atlanta directly. Cuz even when they find someplace the asset owner ships them off to someplace else on loan.

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      • Novakovich is not an “asset” he’s following the path of many European players. Sign with a club, play in the youth system, take a short-term loan in a low division, followed by a season with a slighter higher division, before breaking in with the parent club. Reading felt he had learned all he could with their U23s last year scoring 10 times in 22 matches but wasn’t ready to beat out an EPL veteran and a regular for Iceland. That doesn’t mean if someone throws out crazy money they wouldn’t do it but that’s not the plan. Unlike Miazga or EPB.

      • I appreciate your optimism but objectively he has been there 4 years and made fewer first team appearances than years of tenure. IMO English teams tend to make up their mind if you are an impact player far faster, and their response to him doesn’t scream “keeper.” He’s been sent out on successive loans for years.

        At a certain point that strategy of playing for time becomes practically indistinguishable from being an asset and he’s better off with a team like Telstar that plays him. The idea he has tough competition for team slots flipped around says as presently configured the team doesn’t have a path for him. Since they probably signed him knowing it was a dice roll I am more inclined to “asset.”

      • I guess your definition of asset is broader than mine. Reading has one CF whose contract is expiring and another whose loan to has ended, plus a guy who is 36. His main competition for at least back up CF is 20 year old Englishman that Novakovich outplayed in 2016-17 for the U23s. If the Icelander does well at the WC that could bring about a transfer and Novakovich is the starter.

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