USMNT striker Josh Sargent is gearing up for his second senior season in the Bundesliga at Werder Bremen. The 20-year-old has been highly praised by coach Florian Kohfeldt, but isn't letting anything go to his head.
Sargent scored his fourth goal of the season in 2019/20 at the business end of the campaign when Bremen needed him most, helping to earn his side a spot in the relegation play-off against Bundesliga 2 side Heidenheim.
The Missouri-born striker was a second-half substitute in the goalless first leg but justified his inclusion in the starting line-up for the return fixture by producing the assist for the opening goal. Werder, in the end, clung on to their Bundesliga status on away goals after a 2-2 draw.
Sargent's performances in recent pre-season friendly wins over Groningen and St. Pauli have given coach Kohfeldt plenty of food for thought. The German tactician recently stated that he "can't imagine a starting XI that doesn't include Josh Sargent" heading into the new season.
For the 12-time USMNT international, though, nothing is for certain and his improved mentality is what will set him apart from the rest.
"We've got several options up front. We're always pushing each other and trying to make it a difficult decision for the coach," Sargent told a press conference on Wednesday.
"At the end of the day, I don't care about what people are saying, I have to focus on myself and work hard. My mentality can be a big advantage. I want to be one of the guys who works the hardest on the pitch."
Watch: Sargent's Goal of the Season contender!
Hard-working players are exactly what Bremen need heading into the new campaign. The North German club had hopes of a European push prior to 2019/20, but were quickly faced with a relegation battle after mounting injuries and a lack of consistency saw them plummet down the table.
But with a new season comes new hope, and Sargent – despite his tender 20 years – could now be considered one of the dressing room leaders having experienced the struggles of the last year and come out the other side better for it.
A host of young talent has been drafted in, with 20-year-olds Felix Agu and Tahith Chong and 18-year-old Johan Mina among the new arrivals, along with several academy products, which has brought fresh positive vibes for Sargent and the Bremen squad.
"It's really cool that we have so many young players," Sargent said. "I feel really comfortable with them and we get along really well. We all came through last season and no one wants to experience that again. We're going into the new season focused and more positive."
Sargent and Bremen begin their 2020/21 journey at home to Hertha Berlin on 19 September, the US star set to be in the starting XI from the off if Kohfeldt's words come to fruition.