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Berhalter calls Sargent’s USMNT Gold Cup omission his “most difficult decision”

Josh Sargent may have been included in Gregg Berhalter’s provisional Gold Cup roster, but the 19-year-old still has some work to do after being left off Thursday’s final roster.

After not being included in the U.S. U-20 World Cup roster, it was expected that Sargent would be with the senior squad for this tournament. Berhalter agreed it was a difficult decision to make to exclude Sargent, but ultimately went with experienced options instead.

“This was the most difficult decision we had to make involving Josh,” Berhalter said in a conference call on Thursday. “When I talked to him and gave him the news, one thing I mentioned was that he is going to be the striker for the national team in the future. We’re sure of that. He wasn’t able to play as much as he could have. And he lacked a little sharpness.”

“When Sebastian Lletget went down, it tossed a wrench into the plans and we didn’t think we could carry three strikers at that point,” Berhalter said. “Josh will have more chances, but he wasn’t able to carry over his early-season momentum with Werder Bremen into the second-half. We think Jozy and Gyasi are ahead of him right now. We made this decision in order for the best of the team.”

Sargent played the full 90 minutes in a 1-0 loss to Jamaica at Audi Field and had the USMNT’s lone effort on goal. After a great find from Duane Holmes, Sargent was able to turn and create enough space to get a shot off. Jamaican keeper Andre Blake was able to get a hand to the shot and preserved the clean sheet for the Reggae Boyz.

Outside of Sargent’s attempt, the USMNT lacked the creativity and cutting edge to get an equalizer. The striker can still make the roster should an injury occur to one of the 23 current players, but if not he will have to wait until the fall for another shot at cracking the senior squad.

“We thought he would benefit from the challenge of the full national team and benefit playing a game, fighting to make the squad,” Berhalter said in regards to Sargent not being included in the U-20 World Cup squad. “With him not going to Poland, it’s given Sebastian Soto a chance to flourish so we felt giving another player a chance was the best thing to do.”

“We have to remember that he is 19-years-old and he has a bright future in front of him,” Berhalter said. “He’s got great skillsets, unfortunately he didn’t play enough as he could have with Bremen. Josh is a good striker and he will have more opportunities to show that.”

With Sargent out of the Gold Cup picture, the pressure will be on Altidore, Zardes, and Morris to come up with goals in the tournament. All three are experienced guys that have played in the Gold Cup and have been regulars in Major League Soccer. Should they come up dry though, questions will surely be asked about their inclusions over the younger Sargent.


  1. So he tells him he is the future 9 while I watch Soto light up defenses like pinball — which sounds insincere. He will have competition and is obviously not the coach’s favorite. And then he uses Lletget as an excuse when apparently Holmes will be in the same utility role, and that whole thing sounds like a non sequitur to who is playing forward. Which sounds like he never had a chance unless he knocked in a hat trick, which the B team was not going to deliver. And then there is the broader mismanagement, to me, of putting him in a situation where he gets one game all summer. If he wasn’t going to make this team why isn’t he in Poland, like Weah? So a player who needs the rust knocked off sits all summer. Genius.

  2. So Jordan Morris and Tyler Boyd over Josh sargent Sorry Greg your making excuse lleget got injured and he could play any the midfield position so could Tyler adams. Sargent looked decent and had a great not so easy opportunity against a jamaica that was very tough to penetrate. Sargent is a technical foward with speed not just a body with speed like morris. So upsetting even after one day of final roster being announced.

  3. I disagree with all this “higher potential” when it comes to USMNT selection. I want the players playing best now and in the recent past to be selected, not some future that may never unfold. It is not the job of the USMNT coach to “develop” one player over another, it raises too many questions about fairness and is doomed to failure more often than not in any case.

    There are enough good reasons to disagree with players’ past performances, but trying to guess which players will be better in 1,2 or 3 years is a fool’s errand. If you really think you can do it sell your skill to Chelsea, PSG or ManU, they would all love to be able to tell the future.

    • I grant the performance argument but it has to be evaluated in light of who will be young and healthy in 2022. In 3 years Gyasi will be 30 and Jozy will be 32, and the latter is already coming off injuries. I also think that the evaluation of performance at the NT level should focus on production for the NT itself, in which case Sargent has one more goal than Zardes in the past 3 years. Zardes has literally done zippo for the Nats in the past 3 years other than the goal and assist in the soft winter/spring camps. Sargent had 2 goals just last season. But quick let’s talk about club form or anything else tangential to the core question you claim to raise.

  4. Feel sad for Sargent and also a lost opportunity to have played and contributed to U20 MNT in the U20 World Cup. If GB rates Sargent as such, the USMNT manager should have sent Sargent, just like Weah, directly to the U20 World Cup. This was totally poor planning on GB and also robbed Tab Ramos a striker option too should our youth MNT continues to go deep into the tournament. Shame on you, Berhalter!

  5. To me, it sounds like a setup. Do you think Jozy would have had better chances to score with this patched up midfield? And he did play and didn’t score, would GB exclude him from the team?

    • See your point and no, Jozy would def still be in team. As would Zardes.

      I heard that Sargent was originally not going to start last night. Zardes was but he picked up a slight foot injury.

      If thats true, I think Berhalters decision was prob made before game.

      Total speculation on my part.

    • I think we were basically playing DMs as wings and the service sucked. But I also think reading between the lines that unless he scored a zillion goals the die was cast. Boyd never saw the field and he’s straight into the 23. Most of the excuses made would stand regardless of how the game actually went.

  6. Are we talking about the Josh Sargent that plays in the German fourth division and occasionally watches Bundesliga games from the bench?

  7. Thanks Larry!! I had questions your article answered. Olympic Qualifying starts in October. Some of the players, who were left off GC roster, participated in Kries’ U23 camp last month. Robinson, Sargent, Amon, Machailivic(misspelled), Yueill, & CCV are eligible. Not making excuses, for Coach Berhalter, I just think the fact, the US hasn’t qualified for a Olympic tournament, (in a long time), influenced some personnel decisions. As some of us, have already noted that European leagues start in August. My guess is players get the summer off, have 2 months, to get into game form, then the ‘future’ should be ready for qualifying.

    • You’re neglecting whether the players are released for the Olympics. There is always a significant gap between the wish list and who is allowed to play. In particular, players like Weah and Sargent may be kept at their clubs, as well as some of the U20s in Europe.

  8. Haha gregs biggest mistake! By far. Already starting off bad. His mentality MLS over Europe credit to others that have noticed this. I have recently noticed this. So sad and pathetic.

  9. “When I talked to him and gave him the news, one thing I mentioned was that he is going to be the striker for the national team in the future. We’re sure of that.”

    This statement is disingenuine at best. If you know you have the future of our offense in camp, and there are no other options for him to play this summer (since you didn’t allow him to go with U20, you keep him for the GC and allow him to learn whatever he can from Jozy. But instead, you force “the future” of the USMNT to sit at home. Ridiculous…

  10. Blah blah blah ego ego ego he is smarter than everybody else. I hope earnie Stewart opens his eyes

  11. The only way Sargent could be left off the U-20 WC roster is if he was written in permanent ink on the Gold Cup roster. It is a failure for the “Future striker of the national team” (Berhalter’s words) to get zero meaningful minutes this summer.

    • Great point. I would guess that Sargent, if it was a legit shot, would want it over playing for u-20 though. Seemed to be legit…guys that played well last night made it. Roldan and Holmes.
      But yeah, really want him on that U-20 teams now playing in big games.

    • Sargent got the senior training camps and 90 minutes in a senior match, not bad for a 19 yr old who hasn’t broken into a first team. Now he gets a break before getting the full preseason with Bremen, who have always seemed very high on him, to the point of intentionally bringing him along slow despite him scoring consistently for their reserves. It is possible that his club and US coaches might know a little more about his progression than some fans. And the US u20s are doing fine without him.

      • I said “meaningful minutes.” 90 minutes in a friendly with a C squad and an experimental lineup that bombed terribly does not qualify as meaningful minutes.

  12. I wouldn’t have taken him either.
    Part of the reason the midfield struggled was lack of availability by the forward, except when he dropped WAY back.
    He is learning and if he progresses, there is a definite need and lack of great options up top. He will have other chances like last night.
    Jamaica is the average team in CONCACAF btw, Jose will do well against them, it is the top teams he struggles against.

  13. As far as I’m concerned GB is an ass. He screwed Sargent over and sounded very much like Klinsman doing it. Looks like MLS is running USMNT .Sargent could play DM better than Trapp right now, no question even though it’s not his position. Thank God EPL starts in August. What a complete load of BS.

    • It was just a difference of opinion….until Fritz put Sargent at holding mid. What the…..

      • Interestingly enough whiner, I though your statement about Jamaica being an average concacaf squad was pretty laughable. A team that has been in the last two gold cup finals, that’s concacafs top tournament by the way, is not an average team. Do you really believe your statement??? Josh Sargent has some chops, and an aggressive streak. Sounds like some pretty good qualities for a destroyer. It’s funny that Dwight yorke ends up playing defensive mid for Tand T, another “average” concacaf team, he wins epl titles. Whiner, What’s more impressive, Dwight Yorke winning at Man U or wes Morgan winning at Leicester

  14. I haven’t seen Sargent play enough to evaluate if he could have made an impact, but I am starting to question GB’s soccer acumen. First he plays Adams, arguably the best US defensive midfielder since a younger Jermaine Jones and certainly the highest potential ever in that position for an American player, out of position at RB to accommodate dubious tactics where a highly limited and weak player like Trapp start. Then he includes players who have shown nothing with the USMNT such as Morris or Arriola (they both really really suck for international level… sorry but it’s the truth) over in form producing players (Wooten) or higher potential down the line guys (Weah, Sargent) or guys who have been decent in US jerseys in the past (Wood, Acosta). And of course the whole is crowned by the 2nd loss in the last 50 years to a Caribbean team on US soil. I’ll let GB change my mind at the GC, but some of his tactical and personnel intuitions so far have been pretty lackluster. But regardless, always behind our dudes – Go USA!

    • I think Weah should be in there
      LIke you again…I think Morris has a ways to go

      but YOU label Morris as sucking at the international level and Weah as full of potential.
      The difference?
      I could guess, but that wouldn’t make sense either as Morris is the guy that plays with internationals from Uruguay, Peru and Sweden, not Weah.
      not trying to get in an argument over who has more potential, but Morris was definitely chosen for his speed and potential like you and I wanted Weah to be.

      • Re: Weah vs. Morris. Maybe I was clumsy in my first note, but what I meant to say is that basically based on what I have seen with Morris on numerous occasions with USMNT, he his a wasted roster spot, so might as well opt for a gamble on the future such as a Weah or a Sargent, who, at worse would be as bad as Morris would be during the GC, but if they realize the potential people see in them could be difference makers. I have no beef with Jozy being there: like it our not, he’s legit and has delivered for us. Zardes I don’t mind too: he’s played very well when given the chance with the senior team. I can even live with MB90 because he’s proven in the past and he still could be useful in spots. But Morris and Arriola (or Trapp or Rodlan, etc… )I’ve seen enough to know they are not the today answer nor the tomorrow one, so let’s try new things (weah, sargent) or go give a chance to a Wooten who’s been scoring goals in droves in a league as competitive at least as MLS or go with a guy like Wood who’s a more complete player than a Morris for example and has show that when he wears the US jersey he plays hard – despite being a bit out of luck a this club lately. Long story short: dudes like Morris or Arriola or Trapp etc… are waste of roster spots, so why be wasteful?
        But I also love the taste of crow so I hope I eat it in a month or so if Morris scores a hat trick against Mexico! 😉

    • We can disagree. And we do. On Morris and Bradley ( Toronto stinks and he is abi part of that ).
      Remember the last time Morris was healthy he scored the Gold Cup Finals winner against….The Reggae Boys.

      • Wood hasnt been dressing for his club team. He is not injured either. I dont know whats going on with his drop in minutes and not even dressing. Every yanks abroad since January 2019 he has not dressed.

      • Fair points – so let’s close this on a positive note and agree at least on the following: GO USA! 100% behind them, no matter who plays – even though we’ll all never concur on rosters!

  15. How Wooten never made this roster is bit mind-boggling considering the forward pool… Let’s hope Jozy doesn’t get injured, he seems fragile lately.

    • It is too late for Wooten to be a national team forward. Sorry. Good for him for having a breakout season in Bundasliga 2 at 29. Him and Jozy are the same age, yes, but Jozy obviously is an experienced national team starter.

      Enough about Wooten.

      • How is 29 to old to play on the national team? World cup rosters are full of over 30 players.

        I wasn’t aware there was an age limit in international soccer, I always though we should pick players based on current form and performance…. silly me!

  16. I agree, what a joke this is. He really screwed this kid over by leaving him out and not just sending him w/ the U-20s instead. Great headline after watching one of the most pathetic USMNT matches I’ve ever seen.

    • Sending Sargent to the U-20s would have provided zero benefits long term. Playing against experienced professionals is better for his development than beating up a bunch of kids who are playing in academies or second division teams. Now he needs to play against older and more experienced players. Sargent has already shown what he can do at the U-20 level and sending him to Poland would have taken him away from his club’s preseason (where he needs to impress).

      • One problem with your analysis. I think that French U-20 team is better than a lot of CONCACAF senior national teams. They have players starting in the Bundesliga and one who is a starter at PSG, where Weah can only make the bench, on a good day.

  17. How was it a difficult decision. GB is an idiot. Boyd automatically makes the team? Because he starts ocasionally for his club and has some New Zealand nats caps? Dont mean to rant, but GB rubbing me the wrong way with his pathetic excuses. Sargent is better than Arriola, Roldan, and Lewis. Smh

    • Sargent plays a very different role than Arriola, Roldan, and Lewis. Sargent is competing directly with Altidore and Zardes for a spot on this team.

      • EXACTLY! On paper, we have these names under forward. But in reality, it is Jozy and Zardes competing at target forward. Than you have Morris who can be there in a pinch, our utility guy up front.

        Its about building out a team for the tourney that is implementing a certain system.

        Interesting tidbit about Lletget effecting the decision.
        That guy has bad luck with injuries.

      • Jordan Morris can’t create his own shot like Josh can. Morris has been stagnant not sure how a you get player of equal ability gets canned for Morris. Did Josh not okay well despite lack of service last night? GB better hope his squad shines this GC or the heat will really and hopefully turned up if not. We don’t have a year to waste…..

    • SMDH too and completely agree. If our manager can’t see the canyon in quality and talent between Zardes and Morris and young player like Sargent there is no hope for GB.

      Is he a better player or not should be the question not how many minutes he played in April and May.

      Imagine this scenario. What if Pulisic isn’t getting many minutes with Chelsea next season and the season after that, are we going to stop calling up CP because of that. Sure Sargent still has to prove himself on being that CP automatic level but JK was giving CP the chances to do that when he was still 17 at the Copa Centennial. Or what if Schalke gets a new manager and who doesn’t rate McKennie are we going to stop calling McKennie too. We didn’t stop call LD when Leverkusen wasn’t playing him. I remember back in 2010 we made similiar decisions to play Ricardo Clark over Maurice Edu and play Robbie Findley over Eddie Johnson. We keep doing this non sense. I think we’re both sick of it.

    • Here’s what I think a good coach does. He knows who his best players are. He selects his best players. then he creates a system to fit the players you have so that you have your best players on the field. You don’t leave your best player(s) off the team because you can’t fit them into some pre-ordained system. Klinsmann was frequently and loudly criticized for playing some players out of position. He put FJ at LB, when he was really a midfielder. FJ was one of the best LB’s in the 2014 tournament. That’s probably the last time we haven’t had a problem at LB. When CP22 came onto the squad, Klinsmann centered the attack around him. Not everything worked out, but at least our best players were usually on the field together. It’s not all that long until WC qualifying begins. By now we should be picking our best players and having them play together. Friendlies are for experimentation, not tournaments.

      • JK picked the best players? You have a short memory my man. Wondo, Beckerman, Davis going to Brazil?

        Come on now….

        how long did he bring along Wondo and Beckerman – picking them over many guys. Including not bringing in McKennie his last year. Weston was first coming on scene but never called him in.

        I choose to judge Berhalter after this tourney. Not over a friendly and choosing to leave home a 19yr old who needs to focus on his club.

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