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Haji Wright providing “great option” for USMNT in winger role

The U.S. men’s national team have four viable strikers on its roster heading into June’s pair of home friendlies vs. Colombia and Brazil, but one of them is set to see more of a wide role in Gregg Berhalter’s plans this summer.

Haji Wright is coming off a sensational first season with Coventry City in the EFL Championship, helping the Sky Blues register a top-half finish. Wright, 26, finished tied with Ellis Simms atop the Coventry City goalscoring charts this past season, netting 19 goals in 50 combined appearances.

His impressive return at Coventry City propelled Wright back into the USMNT squad last March, which marked his first international call-up since the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Despite not starting in the CONCACAF Nations League semifinals against Jamaica, Wright delivered a major impact off the bench by scoring twice against the Reggae Boys.

Wright started in the tournament final against Mexico, helping the Americans repeat as Nations League winners for the third-consecutive edition.

His versatility at Coventry City allowed Sky Blues manager Mark Robins to pair Simms and Wright together in the attacking front and we could very well see more of that from Berhalter with Wright joining Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah in the winger corps this June.

“Currently, we see Haji more fulfilling the winger role,” Berhalter told media Monday in a press conference.

“Specifically, it’s related to how he moves and how he is able to get chances which generally come from wider positions. With us lacking some depth at that position, we think it’s a great option to move him into that position.”

Folarin Balogun, Ricardo Pepi, and Josh Sargent will all fight for the starting No. 9 role this coming month while Wright could also fit into the plans based off his past experiences as a striker in Turkey, Germany, and Denmark.

All four players though will be eager to make Berhalter’s final Copa America roster ahead of the Americans group stage opener on June 21.

Comments

  1. Well Pulisic isn’t getting bumped, so it must be Weah that makes way, maybe to cover the RB spot. Makes sense as neither Scally nor Moore seem ready to face Brazil/Colombia. If that happens, I would like to see CP moved to the right since he had never seemed to mesh well with Jedi.

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    • not only that but CP had been playing mostly on the right for AC Milan this season, so it would be a natural transition with the NT if it happened!

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  2. I like it…finally! Gregg kept trying to force-feed Haji into the #9 role because he’s such a prototype specimen for the position but Haji’s not really a #9 – at least not a center forward – so much as he’s a king-sized winger/second striker. Despite his size and physique he’s not a great target man though he is a force on crosses…but he’s great at running off a target man and he’s particularly lethal when he can pick up the ball in space and drive straight at defenders in the final third. His strides are so long he can create space for his shots, and he finishes well with either foot. All he really needs is a look.

    I’d personally love to see him evolve his game so he is more natural and effective at holding the ball up and a more complete center forward, but he still definitely has a skillset that can help us right now even with that limitation. We just needed to figure out how to use him effectively and to me this is the best spot for him at the moment until he rounds out his game. (And I think he can, if he works on it.)

    I personally think he can be a Didier Drogba type (though it’s a big ask to ask anybody to be that good)…and Drogba too didn’t really become a complete CF until he was 26-27ish and he didn’t really drop off much at all until he was 36 or so and in his second stint at Chelsea. Even at age 37/38 Drogba scored 21 goals in 33 appearances in MLS. You see a fair number of big powerful strikers follow that career arc.

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  3. So why not all four at the same time?
    Totally kidding!!!

    Seriously though the US talent is getting to the point of being able to gameplan against other teams weaknesses at particular positions. Don’t get me wrong the US talent is not superior but they are starting to have players that are better then the opposing teams at a number of positions.
    Dest injury does hinder playing out of the back and transitioning into the offensive third. Pulisic, Jedi Robinson, McKennie are quality game changing players.Even Ream can pick out line breaking passes. Reyna is the enigma on this team taking the next step

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