U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter has numerous options to consider when choosing his summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup.
With many European-based players expected to receive the call, one lower-league player deserves a chance after starring in Germany. Sandhausen striker Andrew Wooten has single-handedly pulled his team off the bottom of Germany’s 2. Bundesliga to a current spot above the red line.
Wooten, 29, has 15 league goals in 28 matches for Sandhausen this season, including eight in his last 10 appearances. After an injury-plagued 2017-18 which only saw him make six appearances, Wooten has battled back nicely and has become one of the more prominent strikers in Germany’s second-tier.
The 6-foot-1 striker has the physicality to go up against strong centerbacks while also being able to run the channels and hold up play. His eye for goal has been crucial for Sandhausen late in this domestic season as he continues to move them away from a drop into Germany’s third division. After spending several seasons in the second-tier, Wooten’s fine campaign could see numerous lower-level Bundesliga clubs interested in him for next season.
In March friendlies against Ecuador and Chile, Gyasi Zardes was the only forward who was able to find the back of the net. Meanwhile, Wooten domestically has averaged one goal every 143 minutes this season, which is statistically better than any of the forwards on Berhalter’s March roster.
Even if experienced players like Jozy Altidore and Jordan Morris lead the line to start matches, Wooten’s durability proves he can add something off the bench. Out of his 15 goals this season, six have come in the second-half of matches while he’s been able to score several with via header and his weaker left-foot.
Wooten may not be a household name, but he’s shown this season that he can provide important goals for his club. Should Sandhausen stave off relegation, Wooten will be applauded for his efforts the second-half of the season.
The opportunity to work with a head coach like Berhalter could also help Wooten grow as a player. Berhalter has been able to work with several USMNT players during his time in Columbus, such as Zack Steffen, Wil Trapp, and Zardes. All three are prominent faces for the USMNT going forward at their respective positions which shows the impact Berhalter has had on all three in some shape.
The USMNT have a pair of friendlies scheduled in June before their group stage schedule kicks off on June 16th. If Wooten is given the call by Berhalter, matches against Jamaica and Venezuela could provide him with some solid competition before the tournament begins.
Due to his age, Wooten may not be in the long-term plans of the USMNT, but for the Gold Cup, Berhalter may decide to go with in-form players in hopes of giving his side the best chance of winning.