bundesliga

Josh Sargent on the USA being taken seriously, life at Werder Bremen and THAT wonder-goal against Augsburg

It's a little over 21 months since Josh Sargent left his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, and headed for the North German city of Bremen with his hopes and dreams fuelling his journey.

Almost two years - and three goals in 16 Bundesliga appearances - later and the 19-year-old is a regular for the USMNT, and his club, Werder Bremen having already accumulated 97 more minutes in the first seven weeks of 2019/20 than he had in all of 2018/19.

In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, Sargent talks about helping the US be taken seriously in the footballing world, 2019/20 and life so far in Bremen as well as not quite revealing all about THAT wonder-goal he scored vs. Augsburg...

bundesliga.com: Taking into account that Werder have so many injured players, would you say things have gone pretty well so far?

Josh Sargent: "Yeah, I think getting the point in Dortmund shows how strong our team is and we're a very close group and I think it shows our good character."

bundesliga.com: How about your own performances, are you happy with what you have shown so far?

Sargent: "Yeah, each game I'm trying to learn more and more. Playing in front of 80,000 fans and against Dortmund was pretty challenging, but I'm learning each game and trying to improve every time."

bundesliga.com: Do you think you will keep getting your game when first-team players come back from injury?

Sargent: "You never know. I think all I can really do is do the best I can and work as hard as I can, every day in training and in games. In the end, it's Florian's decision, what he feels is best, but I can only control what I can and I’ll work as hard as I can."

bundesliga.com: Please talk us through your goal against Augsburg, did you mean it?

Sargent: "I can't say. A lot of people are asking. I still don't want people to know, so I'll keep it that way. Of course I'm trying to score, I don't know why people think it's an accident. The ball over the top, I made the run and the touch wasn't as nice as I wanted it to be, but it's not an accident I hit it over him and scored, of course I was trying to do that."

Watch: Sargent's wonder-goal vs. Augsburg!

bundesliga.com: What is it that Josh Sargent can bring to Werder’s game?

Sargent: "Of course, I'll always try as hard as I can and do as much as I can to help the team. Whatever Florian asks of me for that game, I'll do my best to do that."

bundesliga.com: What can you tell our audience about Werder’s team spirit and DNA?

Sargent: "One word to describe it, I'd just say - family. I think everyone from the team, the staff, the fans that support us, the city, it's just everyone is very close together, very passionate about this club and I think we'll always be a fighting team."

bundesliga.com: The club's goal is to qualify for an international competition, do you go along with these high ambitions?

Sargent: "Yeah, of course. We always want to set our goals high and aim for the best. I know it’s a great group of guys and I think if we fight hard enough and play good football, it can happen."

Josh Sargent has become a trusted member of the Werder Bremen first-team during the 2019/20 season. - 2019 DFL

bundesliga.com: What did just missing out on qualifying for European football last season do to the team coming into 2019/20?

Sargent: "It definitely makes us hungrier, being that close and not being able to make it, it left everybody wanting more this season."

bundesliga.com: If people at home in the US ask you about Werder Bremen, what do you tell them?

Sargent: "This club has so much history and you can see the trainers here, the players here, everybody is very experienced. Like I said, it's a very close family we have here and it’s pretty special I think."

bundesliga.com: How popular is the Bundesliga in the US? What do people like about the league and clubs?

Sargent: "I'd say, the fact that it's a very action-packed league and every matchday you never know who will win really. It's very competitive and fast-paced and I think Americans like watching that."

Josh Sargent (r.) followed former Borussia Dortmund star Christian Pulisic (l.) to the Bundesliga, and is now playing alongside him for the USMNT. - 2018 Getty Images

bundesliga.com: If you could go back to your decision to move to the Bundesliga, do you think you would make a different choice?

Sargent: "No, I think I would do it all over again if I had the choice. I think it's a great league, for young guys especially, to come over here and break through. It's one of the best leagues, so it was an opportunity I really couldn't pass up."

bundesliga.com: How important is coach Florian Kohfeldt for you? Is he sort of a mentor?

Sargent: "You can see he is a very smart coach, but he's also a very good person off the field. We're always joking around and having good times, so he's pretty important in my life."

bundesliga.com: Let's talk about December 7th 2018, and your very first Bundesliga goal, how special was it for you?

Sargent: "It was kind of a blur when it happened, but it was one of my first professional goals and kind of a dream come true. It's something I've worked for my entire life, obviously, it's not the highest ceiling, I want to keep playing and scoring goals, but there was a big sense of pride in that moment, it was surreal."

Watch: Sargent's first Bundesliga goal with his first touch!

bundesliga.com: You walked off the pitch with the ball under your arm, why and where did the ball end up?

Sargent: "A: because I hope it was the ball I actually scored with, they said I could keep that ball, and B: my dad said I had to give it to him so he could keep it at our house. He would keep it safer than I would."

bundesliga.com: How important is this season for you personally? Would you say this has to be your breakthrough season?

Sargent: "I don't know if it's a breakthrough season, but it's definitely important to get as many minutes as I can and try to take advantage of the opportunity I have in front of me right now."

bundesliga.com: Is there a "next step" that you have in the back of your mind? Something like a career plan?

Sargent: "I take it kind of day by day and game by game, just focusing on what I have to achieve right now, not too focused on the future and what's going to happen. I'm focused on what’s going on here in Bremen right now."

bundesliga.com: Stadiums are mostly sold out here, how much do you enjoy the atmosphere? Do you sometimes get goosebumps?

Sargent: "Yeah, 100%. I'm still kind of trying to get used to the atmosphere. It's pretty intense, all the fans screaming for the entire game, they don't stop, but it's awesome and I think that is also why fans like watching it. It's good."

bundesliga.com: You grew up in the Greater St. Louis Area, are there any similarities between there and Bremen?

Sargent: "The weather. The weather is pretty similar, I have to say. But other than that, where I grew up wasn't really a city like it is here in Bremen, so yeah, a little different."

bundesliga.com: Why did you choose to play football, or soccer as it's called in the States, instead of the more popular sports like American football, basketball, baseball or ice hockey?  

Sargent: "I played a lot of sports growing up, all the American sports, but in the end, I just had to make a decision and for me the best path to go down was football and it was my favourite path. I liked playing all the sports, but football stood out from the crowd as my favourite and I was probably the best at this sport. My whole family played football and it was just what felt right to me."

Josh Sargent has put himself up against some of the best players in the world in the Bundesliga - Borussia Dortmund's Axel Witsel. - imago images/Nordphoto

bundesliga.com: Is there anything from the States that you miss when you're in Germany, and is there anything from Germany you miss when you’re at home? 

Sargent: "Being here, I obviously miss family and friends. I know it's easy to say, but just being in my home city is very comforting. When I'm there, I miss the football here."

bundesliga.com: More and more Americans are playing in the Bundesliga now, for example, Zack Steffen, Weston McKennie, Tyler  Adams and more. Why is that? Why do you guys like it over here?

Sargent: "I think it's just the fact that younger guys are getting a very good opportunity and I think US guys are starting to realise it and are trying to take the step to come over here and push themselves to be the best they can."

bundesliga.com: Speaking of the USMNT, what does it mean to you to play for your country?

Sargent: "Everything. You take a lot of pride in playing for your country and every time you get a call up I think you get that gut feeling where you're nervous but excited to play in front of thousands of people for your country, so it's pretty good."

bundesliga.com: What do you hope to accomplish in the USA’s upcoming Nations League matches?

Sargent: "Hopefully I'll get game time, in the first place, and make the most of it. Our national team wants to change how fans around the world view us as a team and take us more seriously, in a way, and I think this tournament, the Nations League, is a good way to do that, so we're definitely going to come into these games trying to do the best we can."

bundesliga.com: You said "we want the world and fans to take us more seriously," how can that be done?

Sargent: "We have a 'new' coach and a lot of young guys mixed with older guys and I think it's a nice mix of experience and young guys. We have a good group right now and I think coming into tournaments like this and playing good football and winning games will help prove that."

bundesliga.com: In September, you were in the starting line-up for the match against Uruguay in your hometown St. Louis. Was it a dream come true?

Sargent: "Yeah, of course. I was talking to Tim Ream, a teammate on the national team and he's also from St. Louis. I was saying, the last time the national team played there, he was playing and I was up in the crowd watching and now being on the field was pretty cool. They were chanting my name, it was in my home city and it was a dream come true. Cool."

Josh Sargent has scored two goals in nine appearances for the USMNT since his debut in May 2018. - imago images / Icon SMI

bundesliga.com: Speaking of St. Louis, how special was the Blues' Cinderella season that ended in winning the Stanley Cup for the very first time?

Sargent: "They had an awful season in the beginning. I remember texting my dad and saying 'what's happening to them?' I'm not able to watch too much while I'm over here, so I was like, 'what is going on', and they started winning games out of nowhere and all of a sudden they're in the Stanley Cup final and win it. I was fortunate enough to be home with my friends and I was able to watch the game and go to the parade after they won. It was just a really big deal for the city and you could see how much it meant to us."

bundesliga.com: You went to the parade, how emotional and fascinating was that? How many people showed up for it?

Sargent: "Yeah, it was packed there, it was really cool. At the end of the parade, we gathered underneath the arch, I don't know if you've seen the St. Louis arch before, but you look back and you could see nothing but people in blue. It was really special. I hope they can do it again, it would be cool, but we'll see."

bundesliga.com: Back to the Bundesliga, what's been your most special moment here so far?

Sargent: "I'd say it was that first goal. Coming on for my debut and scoring right away was a lot of things going on at once, so that was the most special, for sure."