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Gioacchini boosts his USMNT stock with two-goal performance

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The race to become the target striker in Gregg Berhalter’s preferred U.S. Men’s National Team lineup is wide open, and Nicholas Gioacchini made the most of his first chance to stake his claim to the role.

Gioacchini scored a pair of goals and turned in a complete performance in Monday’s 6-2 win over Panama, his first USMNT start in just his second national team appearance. He came within a missed penalty kick of a hat-trick, but the penalty miss wasn’t enough to put a damper on the Caen striker’s first stint with the USMNT.

“Frankly I had a week that I’ll never, ever, ever forget,” Gioacchini said. “We looked at the film of our last game and saw our strengths and weaknesses and we tried to impose that on our opponent and score goals. We did that today and now we head back to our clubs on a good note so I’m really happy for everyone.”

The 20-year-old striker earned the start at striker against Panama after debuting off the bench against Wales, and he played the role well, providing the runs and presence Berhalter wanted from his lead striker.

“He’s a fantastic kid and you know leading up to this I had a lot of conversations with him before the game,” Berhalter said. “You can tell he was a little bit apprehensive and my job was to tell him he is good enough. He showed it tonight, good penalty box movement, build up play, he could be more direct with dropping down and giving us some of the help, but he stretched the line a couple times.”

Gioacchini played alongside Gio Reyna and Ulysses Llanez in the U.S. attack and did not disappoint in the first half. After Reyna tied the match with a brilliant free kick, Gioacchini needed only four minutes to swing the match in the USMNT’s favor, pouncing on a rebound of a saved Ulysses Llanez shot to slot home his first national team goal.

Gioacchini’s second goal showcased his bravery and grit, as he crashed into the penalty area to head home a headed cross from Matt Miazga, outhustling Panama’s defense. The Caen striker also came close to registering his first career hat-trick, but saw his second-half penalty kick saved by Orlando Mosquera.

“It was really important for both of them [Gioacchini and Soto] and I am really happy for both of them,” Berhalter said. “What a dream start for Sebastian, he gets two goals in not a lot of minutes which is fantastic. He showed quality as well. It’s important when we talked last week about potentially the depth chart for the striker/forward position being limited, you have to take those chances and both did tonight.”

“I think Nico brought to the table what we needed at the striker position and maybe you saw in the first game we lacked that presence in the box, so I think he did well today and well done to him and happy for him,” Reyna said.

Gioacchini entered USMNT camp as the lone striker on the roster with a consistent track record as a regular starter. He has scored three goals in eight Ligue 2 appearances for Caen, regularly playing full 90-minute matches.

That club experience might explain why he looked so poised despite being just 20 years old, playing in his second national team match.

“I wasn’t nervous even for this game,” Gioacchini said. “I’m not only coming here to play well, I am coming here to score goals and to help my team win games. That part of my head was focused on those goals I put before myself and I was more ready than I was for the Wales match and even though I didn’t start, I made sure to be ready off the bench to make an impact. There is no point in being frustrated and I am thankful to have started tonight and couldn’t be any more grateful.

“I thank everyone for this opportunity and now heading back to Caen with a couple of goals is a confidence booster I say, it would be good to reproduce the same for my club and help them out too so its great,” Gioacchini said. “I don’t tend to look back much, but now it is all about looking towards the future and maybe scoring that hat trick or even four goals.”

Comments

  1. I’m all for moving on from our Veteran strikers (Jozy & Zardes) in favor of younger options. I’ll grant you that Panama was not the stiffest of competition, but they are one of the teams we’ll have to defeat in WCQ. Both Gioacchini & Soto were fairly clinical with their chances. Add Sargent and Morris into the picture and we have enough to move forwards without the Injury Prone Jozy or the brick footed Zardes.
    This is especially true considering that our best attacker (Pulisic) was absent and the bulk of the players who helped control the game and set up the chances (Musah, Reyna, & Ledezma) were all 1st time invitees.
    This group will only improve as they play more games together.

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  2. There was not much in this game to differentiate Soto and Gioacchini. Soto scoed 2 goals in much less time but was perhaps a bit less involved otherwise. Also,G’s PK miss was a negative for him. The other choices: Sargent is doing well in a better league than either of the former two, so he is definitely a solid choice, Jozy is/was great when he playing well, but too often he is not, his frequent injuries and age likely limit him to only occasional call-ups when others are not available.

    All-in-all 3 solid choices for striker is more than we’ve seen in a decade.

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  3. Altidore was injury prone even in his prime and is well beyond that. Time to close the books on his time with the national team and invest what little game time we have, build rapport with players who have a future and will be available. I’ve seen interviews w/ JA and he seems to realize this- his attitude is along the lines of- sure- if called- it would be great, but looked pretty resigned to his days w/ the USMNT being in the past.

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  4. I sense If the roles were reversed, and Soto got the start, he would suddenly be the front runner with a pair of goals. The Panama team, and the goalie in particular, were not that strong. The proof will come when either have to play against stronger opposition. I’d still give Sargent the edge above both given the level of competition he faces every week.

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    • I’ve seen a few articles by pundits who claim Altidore and Zardes are still further up the depth chart than Gioacchini and Soto and I’m flabbergasted. We know Zardes can’t score at the international level unless it’s off of his face. Jozy is always injured and doesn’t have the stamina to press opponents who build out of the back. Time to let Sargent, Gioacchini , Soto, and Llanez get starts and build experience gelling with the core of the team.

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      • Jozy is way off of form, has come off another injury, and looks to have put back on the 15-20 pounds he lost 4 years ago.
        I just don’t see it, Zardes has his uses, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of younger options. He could be very helpful in CCAF qualies TBH, but past that if someone steps up a little he should be bench fodder at best. Gio has real upside and has garnered interest in teams higher up the chain in France. A guy like Dike or Akinola in MLS can be used as battering rams. Soto is a natural finisher, and lets hope he moves on to a better challenge soon. Sarge is still only 20 folks. While we wish he would score more, he never was in a pro environment until he was 18! Mcbride failed in Europe and only made his mark there when he was 27-28! There may be no blatant standouts yet, but Jozy minutes seem a waste right now, and Zardes should only be in certain situations at best. Ream needs to be phased out. Love the guy but enough, Just doesn’t have the physical attributes and concentration. Long is better for the international game, I don’t doubt Mckenzie is at this point either. EPB, while unfortunattely still prone to big defensive lapses, could have easily been added to camp in Austria. Time of the essence here. 10 mths until qualies. If Zardes, Altidore, Ream are still getting big minutes its on Greg, To many want to throw out players who can help too quickly for the the brand new, unknown, it has to be better than what we have thing. Tedious fandom at it’s worst. In these times I disagree. No amount of time and playing together will help Ream physically, make Zardes better, or make Jozy healthy, in form and in shape/ Obvious issues that need addressing quick.

      • well, his goal against the Netherlands would suggest otherwise but ok! Listen, we know Gyasi isn’t the most technical or savviest player but his work rate, ability to combine and bring his teammates in to the attack are all pluses and things any team could use! He’s scoring goals at a great clip too this season, so this idea that because he scored a goal off of his face is indicative of an inability to lead the line is just stupid! While people seem to rate Sargent highly like we do most young players without the facts or statistics to back it up, the hard truth is he’s not scoring goals and hasn’t really done so for going on 2 seasons. People like to point out how bad his team is, which is true, but these same people wouldn’t give Altidore the same excuse, so we have to stop overhyping certain players until they actually show us something tangible. I personally think Sargent will be a good player but I’m not ready to say he’s ahead of Gyasi just because he’s at Bremen!

    • I totally agree. There was also a shocking lack of scrutiny put on Berhalter’s weird choice to play Lleget as a false 9 against Wales, and seem to be pretending like MLS players like Altidore, who really haven’t been in the squad in years (I think he’s scored once since ’17, mostly due to injury, but still) are ahead of Sargent or even a guy like Soto.

      It’s also bizarre that Gioacchini gets a whole write up for putting up two goals (with a penalty miss) while Soto bags a brace in a fraction of the time. It almost seems that there’s a deliberate downplay of Soto because, perhaps, of his uncertainty around who he wants to play for.

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    • Panama had about packed it in by that time but……..the combo of Ledesma pinging in pin-point bee-bees and a clinical Soto was pretty lethal.

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  5. Kid had a good outing. Couple of poacher’s goals and a lot of fouls drawn. His movement was really positive, as well. Pretty horrible penalty take though… don’t be grabbing the ball away from Gio if that’s your best plan!

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