The past few months have been a major step for Josh Sargent. After shining as a member of the U.S. youth teams, Sargent began his professional career in Germany by signing with Werder Bremen. In the months since, he’s made waves with the club’s youth ranks and looks set for a shot at first team action next season.
Internationally, Sargent is closing in on a senior debut, too. The 18-year-old forward has waited his turn, but it appears the upcoming match against Bolivia could be his first chance to shine in a U.S. Men’s National Team jersey.
Sargent is one of several young headliners on the current USMNT squad ahead of Monday’s match. The squad boasts an average age of 22 with two players, Sargent and Timothy Weah, born in the year 2000.
“We’re all in the same situation, sort of just trying to prove ourselves and trying to find our way into this team,” Sargent said. “I think there’s a lot to look forward to with this group.”
“It’s a great feeling. I’ve been in Germany training as hard as I can every day,” Sargent added. “I didn’t really know the language that well or know any of the guys when I first got into their camp, so it’s a good feeling coming back here where I’m familiar with most of the guys.”
Sargent’s potential USMNT debut comes almost exactly a year after his big breakout. The young forward was the youngest player included on the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team’s World Cup roster, and he responded by scoring four goals. Sargent then rejoined the U.S. U-17s for their World Cup in the fall, scoring three more goals while joining Freddy Adu as the only Americans to play at the two World Cups in one year.
Sargent earned his first USMNT call-up in November, joining the squad against Portugal. However, with a number of more experienced options on the bench, the youngster didn’t earn his first senior appearance.
This time around, it looks like that won’t be the case. Sargent is one of just two pure forwards on the roster, joining Andrija Novakovich. Players like Julian Green, Rubio Rubin and Weah can also play the position, but Sargent sees an opportunity for himself heading into Monday’s Bolivia match.
USMNT interim boss Dave Sarachan also sees an opportunity for the 18-year-old forward.
“As a striker, he’s shown great promise at the higher youth levels in World Cup play,” Sarachan said of Sargent. “I feel physically he has the power and strength to play at this level; now it’s a question of can he adapt to the speed of play and physicality at the senior international level?
“The way he stepped into the U-20 squad just before the World Cup last year showed how he’s able to handle some bigger challenges, and so we thought this was a prime opportunity to give him an extended look with our senior team.”
It remains to be seen how Sarachan looks to handle the forward position. The coach said both Sargent and Novakovich are “smart guys” that understand they’re competing for that spot on Monday. Still, he did leave the possibility open of playing a two-striker formation, although that would more likely feature someone like Rubin or Green as a more mobile creator.
Sargent, meanwhile, is just looking to prove himself once again. He did so at the U-17 level and once again at the U-20s. By all accounts, he’s done so with Werder Bremen’s youth teams as he moves closer to the first team this summer. And now, he’s looking to make a strong opening statement with the U.S. Men’s National Team while looking to become the next generation’s starting No. 9.
“I’m not trying to think about that as much,” Sargent said. “I’m just trying to come out here, play as hard as I can and see what the coach tells me.
“I don’t know how it’s going to go,” he added. “I know there are a lot of guys here that can play forward so I’m just going to try my hardest and see how it goes.”