Josh Sargent is back scoring and earning his way back into the USMNT World Championship roster


Josh Sargent celebrates his third goal in four days for Norwich City. (Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)

Josh Sargent spent a good part of 2021 playing his way away from the US men’s national team. He started last summer as a starting striker. He wasn’t even on rosters until the fall. He neither started nor scored for Norwich City in the English Premier League. He has not played for the USMNT since September, when he was sent off at halftime in Honduras.

But Sargent, once ranked No. 9 in the US for a decade, is now spending 2022 carving his way back into competition.

The 22-year-old scored his second and third goals of the week for Norwich in Friday’s 2-0 win against Millwall.

He combined with Danel Sinani and whipped a shot past a helpless keeper in the 50th minute.

He then wreaked havoc on an overwhelmed defense, converting a zero clearance into a 3-on-2 break that he confidently finished.

Last year he didn’t do any of that for a variety of reasons. He was the overwhelmed in the Premier League. He also played as a winger in an overwhelmed side that finished 20th out of 20. He didn’t play well but hardly got a chance to show he could.

Now he’s showing that he can do it in the second-rate English championship. And he could be ideally suited for a reserve role at the 2022 World Cup.

It starts in November, and head coach Gregg Berhalter has said his roster building is still ongoing – especially leading up. “We have people who know how we want to play who have been in our system and are candidates for the number 9,” Berhalter told ESPN Football Americas Last month. “And then as we lead into this tournament we will see who is in the best form.”

Sargent fits every piece of that description. He also fills a need. Jesús Ferreira, the 21-year-old FC Dallas forward, is likely to start the USMNT’s opener in Qatar. Berhalter will take at least two more forwards, one of which should be his best option when it comes to scoring and one of them to finish a game.

The first option could be Jordan Pefok, which it is already scored in the German Bundesliga for Union Berlin. It could be Ricardo Pepi – the first-choice forward throughout qualifying who hasn’t scored since last autumn – or even Brandon Vazquez, a prolific MLS star.

The latter option should be Sargent. Even as his confidence waned and his touch went awry in recent years, he worked his butt off every time he entered a field. He has pace to play in transition and a willingness to chase lost causes. He has the size and bounce to defend set pieces – and score from them.

He is an asset that Berhalter should at least cultivate in a training camp in September – for which a squad will be named in a few weeks.

And if he continues to score for Norwich, he has a very good chance of a plane ticket to Qatar.

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