With the game of soccer currently on hold around the world, it is a good time to take stock of the U.S. Men’s National Team talent pool as we wait for the sport to resume.
SBI is taking a closer look at each position in the USMNT player pool, ranking the top options, based both on recent form, and potential.
The striker position has plenty of young talent in the pipeline, though few options playing regularly in top leagues.
Here are the top 10 strikers in the USMNT Talent Pool:
The 30-year-old striker had himself a tough 2019, with injuries cutting into his availability at key moments, but when he was healthy, he remained the imposing and dangerous attacking threat he has been for the past decade.
The challenge for Altidore in 2020 will be to stay healthy and maintain a high level as he prepares to face a challenge from a looming generation of prospects ready to take his starting spot with the USMNT.
The heir to the throne, Sargent had a roller-coaster 2019, enduring a disappointing first half of the year before enjoying a much better second half of 2019. His year was cut short by injury, but the 20-year-old still showed before the injury that he is very much worthy of the label of “Striker of the Future”.
Sargent’s successful run at Werder Bremen helped him earn a starting USMNT role in Nations League, and if he can continue to earn regular minutes in the Bundesliga Sargent will have a good chance of supplanting Altidore as the top USMNT option at striker.
The veteran striker suffered through what became a forgettable season for the Columbus Crew, but he continued to deliver goals for club and country, scoring 13 goals for the Crew and a team-high six goals for the USMNT.
The 28-year-old will be facing a tough challenge in 2020 as Sargent and Altidore look to stay ahead of him at strike, but with the Crew having revamped their squad, a Columbus revival could help Zardes boost his stock.
Though there is still some question about what position he’s best suited to play, we’ll slot in Ferreira as a striker for now after an impressive 2019 season spent mainly in a striker role. The Colombian-born FC Dallas standout filed a one-time change of association to play for the United States, and made an impressive USMNT debut in January.
He was set to play a key role for the U.S. Olympic qualifying team before the qualifying tournament was postponed, but should return to his key role with FC Dallas once MLS returns to action.
After two good seasons in the Netherlands, first with second-division side Telstar and then Eredivisie side Fortuna Sittard, Novakovich finally stopped waiting for a chance with Reading FC, making a transfer move to Serie B side Frosinone.
The move has helped the 23-year-old Novakovich earn regular minutes in a tough defensive league. Goals haven’t been as easy to come by as they were when he was playing in the Netherlands, but the 6-foot-4 forward has helped Frosinone vie for a potential promotion to Serie A.
One of the stars of the USMNT Under-20 World Cup squad last summer, Soto has become a bit of a forgotten man due to being buried on the bench at Hannover after refusing to sign a new contract, but his recent lack of playing time doesn’t change the fact he is still one of the best goal-scoring prospects in the American pipeline.
A move away from Hannover seems inevitable at this point, and his next move will dictate just how quickly he can develop into a threat to move further up this chart. His movement and finishing ability make the 19-year-old a prospect to watch.
The Portland Timbers striker has seen his share of time for club and country in wide roles, but he’s a striker at heart, and if he can see more consistent playing time as a number nine, Ebobisse has the qualities to stay near the top of this list.
Offseason knee surgery cost him a chance at taking part in the January USMNT camp, but the 23-year-old was called in to the U.S. Olympic qualifying squad.
A move away from Schalke has helped Wright earn some regular playing time for Dutch side VVV Venlo, where he’s been playing in a wide forward role. The minutes have been steady, though he’s still searching for his first league goal.
The 21-year-old striker brings a 6-foot-3 frame to the number 9 role, and is eligible to compete in the 2020 Olympics if the Americans qualify.
This might feel like a high placement for a player who hasn’t seen much playing time for club or country in the past two years, but the 27-year-old feels like the kind of prospect who could rocket up the list if he made the right move to land some regular minutes.
It would be a mistake to rule out a career resurrection for a striker who has had so many memorable moments in the USMNT lineup, but it may be time for Wood to consider a move to MLS, or simply away from Germany, to kickstart his career.
Few players enjoyed a better start to the 2020 MLS season than Shelton, who rejoined Sporting Kansas City after a stint in Germany. The 26-year-old has looked outstanding in his two matches for SKC, forming a good partnership with Mexican striker Alan Pulido.
There is no guarantee that Shelton can keep up his torrid early pace, but with defenses paying attention to Pulido, Shelton could be in for a big year, which could help him catch Berhalter’s attention.