Sebastian Soto has long been considered one of the most promising young strikers in the U.S. Men’s National Team talent pipeline, but a new report suggests the USMNT is set to lose Soto to a South American rival.
The Norwich City loanee has reportedly accepted an offer from Chilean National Team head coach Reinaldo Rueda to switch allegiances and join La Roja, AS reported on Tuesday. The report suggests Soto is aiming to be a part of Chile’s 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying squad, which is slated to begin matches in October.
Born in California, Soto is currently on loan domestically with Dutch second-tier side Telstar. After failing to break through with German 2. Bundesliga side Hannover, Soto made the move to Norwich City this summer on a permanent deal. However, due to work permit issues, Soto was loaned to the Netherlands in order to earn first-team minutes.
The 20-year-old has represented the U.S. Youth National Teams in the past, most notably scoring four goals for the Under-20 team at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Soto has since scored one goal in two appearances for the U-23 side but had yet to receive a call-up from the USMNT.
While a first-team place with Chile seems like a stretch for a player who has yet to establish himself on the club level, Soto is a promising young striker prospect and Chile is lacking in young strikers, so the pursuit of Soto would make sense from a long-term standpoint.
FIFA recently passed changes to its rules regarding dual national players and their ability to avoid being cap-tied, but Soto’s situation isn’t quite as clear because he has already represented the United States in international competition and would require a Change of Association in order to play for Chile.
Chile remained 17th in the latest FIFA Rankings, six places higher than the USMNT and fifth amongst Conmebol’s 10 teams. The Chileans continue to rely on veteran and all-time leading goalscorer Alexis Sanchez to lead the attack, but will need the next group of young players in order to help build for the future.
Outside of Sanchez’s 43 international goals and Arturo Vidal’s 28 tallies, no player in the Chilean player pool has reached double digits for the National Team so far.