Josh Sippie takes a look at USA’s brightest young star on the block, Josh Sargent
With the Bundesliga’s new prerogative of identifying and signing young American talents, you can expect to see a bunch of players donning the red, white and blue popping up across numerous German teams in years to come. It all started with Christian Pulisic at Borussia Dortmund and it is being carried on with the likes of Weston McKennie at FC Schalke. Now, Werder Bremen wants in on the action.
The United States may not have the richest history of international footballing success, but that may change soon with their up and coming brigade of talented young teenagers who are set to hit the world stage as Pulisic starts to settle into his skin a bit more.
This list is chockfull of players to follow, but Josh Sargent is a name right at, or at least near, the top of that list of talented young teenagers. And now that he has joined his first professional club, and in the esteemed Bundesliga no less, it’s only a matter of time before he is making an impact on much bigger stages, as he might well have already outgrown the U17 stage.
Who is Josh Sargent?
Josh Sargent was born in the birthplace of soccer in the United States, St. Louis Missouri – or more specifically, O’Fallon Missouri – on 20th February 2000. Both of his parents played college-level soccer, so it only made sense that Sargent followed in their footsteps and the country will be thrilled he did in no time.
Sargent joined the Scott Gallagher Soccer Club at age eight and rode with that into his high school years, where he achieved the rank of No. 2 prospect in the country. He impressed so much at the 2016 Nike International Friendlies that the courters came knocking. He spent the better part of the next year training with professional clubs, spending two weeks with Sporting KC, one week with PSV Eindhoven and, lastly, after being called up to the United States U20 side, with FC Schalke.
All of this acclaim has landed him at Werder Bremen, where he is set to join up at the start of 2018, signing his first professional contract when he turns 18.
It is internationally that Sargent has proven himself a stalwart. At the U17 level, Sargent has amassed 18 goals in 40 appearances while also captaining the side in the U17 World Cup in India. In the few appearances he has made with the U20 side, he has been just as impressive, scoring four goals in four appearances.
What is his Style of Play?
Fans of MLS will see a keen likeness to Clint Dempsey in Josh Sargent. While neither one seems to stand out in terms of blazing pace or imposing physicality, they both have an uncanny ability to continue scoring, although Sargent will hope to take his career even higher than Dempsey has been able to.
Sargent is a finisher first and foremost. He is an intelligent forward that can lead the attack from beyond the 18-yard box or focus his efforts on being a present force in the box capable of drilling away at the defense.
Thinking beyond Clint Dempsey, Harry Kane is another name that has made this similar skill set work on a much bigger stage. He isn’t overly big or fast, he’s just a clinical striker, and that’s what Sargent is. He is clever with the ball, possesses a deft first touch and knows how to navigate tight spaces.
Sargent can usually be seen fielding passes and setting himself up to fire at goal and, the best part of all, he then follows his own shots to make sure that, one way or another, he puts as much pressure on the opposing defense as he possibly can.
He’s a hands-on striker, who would rather ensure his own tally of goals by creating them himself than he would rely on teammates for service.
What are his Strengths?
In case you haven’t gathered this by now, Sargent’s primary strength is his ability to finish. It’s not just a matter of being lucky for him. The majority of the goals he scores are so much more than being in the right place at the right time, although he certainly does that too. He is superb with his first touch on the ball, can turn masterfully with it at his feet and just has a knack for finding the space needed to get the shot on goal.
Which establishes the next strength pretty well – his soft feet. Just like Harry Kane, who doesn’t possess any overbearing strength other than his finishing ability, Sargent shares that undervalued strength of having sound, soft feet that can receive the ball and transition directly into an attack before the defense can settle.
When you get down to it, a striker doesn’t need much more than a pure finishing ability and a first touch that can set up opportunities aplenty. As long as he gets the ball in remotely workable areas, you can almost guarantee him pestering the opposing goal.
But Sargent has one more key element to his game that ranks in as his third strength and that is his work ethic. He does not take his responsibility to pressure the opposing keeper and defense lightly, which is another source of goals for the young American.
It pairs so well with his previous strengths in that, once he has fired off that first shot, he is always moving, even if the defense hasn’t reacted yet. This puts him in even more dangerous positions to collect on his own rebounds and those of his teammates to have additional attempts at goal.
What are his Weaknesses?
Sargent’s weaknesses are moreso just acknowledgments of the kind of striker that he isn’t. For instance, he is not a hulking, brutish striker like Andy Carroll or Olivier Giroud, who is going to boss the box and shove everyone aside.
He also isn’t a speedy, timed-run striker that is going to wait for the right moment to spring himself and hope for a clever through ball or an over-the-top lob that he can then take in towards the goal.
These are his weaknesses merely in that they aren’t his style of play, although that isn’t to say he isn’t capable of making clever runs or heading home a goal or four.
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