Josh Sargent has been heralded as US Soccer's next great striker, and Werder Bremen's long-term successor to Claudio Pizarro. bundesliga.com has the scoop on the unmistakable 20-year-old frontman...
Club: Werder Bremen
Country: USA (12 caps/ five goals)
Sargent had long been making waves at the Scott Gallagher Soccer Club in St. Louis, Missouri, when he headed over 1,000 miles to the south in 2015 to join the USMNT U17's Residency Program. He scored five goals in five games at the U17 CONCACAF Championship, helping the United States to a second-placed finish. A call-up for the national team's final squad for the FIFA U20 World Cup ensued, and Sargent duly delivered at the South Korea showpiece, scoring four times to equal the best tally at an U20 World Cup by a US player and claim the tournament's Silver Boot. He also became only the second American player to feature at both U20 and U17 World Cups in the same year after Freddy Adu, while his double in the opening draw against Ecuador made him the youngest player in US soccer history to score at a FIFA U20 World Cup.
What Sargent has achieved that no other US player has before him is to feature at the U17 and U20 World Cups and receive a senior international call-up to the USMNT all in the same calendar year. Although injury would eventually prevent Sargent from appearing in the senior team's 1-1 friendly draw against European Champions Portugal in November 2017, the American youngster seized his next chance, scoring on his USMNT debut in a 3-0 friendly win over Bolivia on 29 May 2018. With his strike against Peru five months later, he became just the third player after Christian Pulisic and Juan Agudelo to score twice for the US before his 19th birthday.
Although the flame-haired phenom had officially joined Bremen from the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida upon turning 18 in February 2018, he spent his formative months playing for the U23s in Germany's fourth tier. Seven goals and two assists in 12 appearances hinted at his talent; a Bundesliga debut goal with his first touch against Fortuna Düsseldorf on 12 December 2018 capped another memorable chapter in the career of the then reigning US Soccer Young Player of the Year. The 6'1" right-footer was on target on his third top-flight outing away to RB Leipzig, and again on his second start early in the 2019/20 season - his first full campaign with the seniors - with a sensational solo effort against Augsburg. Two of these five Bundesliga goals to date have come in meetings with Hertha Berlin.
Watch: Josh Sargent's Bergkamp-esque goal against Augsburg
Plays a bit like: Claudio Pizarro
It's hard to ignore the comparisons with club legend Pizarro, who moved to Bremen back in 1999 at the age of 20. The Peruvian's fourth stint on the banks of the Weser river will be his last, but Sargent - with his lean but powerful frame, positioning, nimble movement and nose for goal - is tailor-made to fill the boots of the second-highest foreign-born scorer in Bundesliga history.
"I'm on my way out and he's just getting started," Pizarro told Deutsche Welle. "I try to help him out with my experience. I try to guide him so he can avoid the mistakes I made. That way, he doesn't use up much time to develop in the best way he can."
Did you know?
Sargent has sporting prowess in his DNA. His dad, Jeff, played soccer and basketball at Sangamon State University, now known as Illinois-Springfield. His mum, Liane, played soccer and softball at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.
When Josh was just three years old, he was already playing one-two years above his age group. "We kind of had to fib and say he was four, so we put him on the team," his father recalled on the USSoccer website. "His first game he scored nine goals, so we were like, 'Hmm…'."
What they're saying
"From a young age, he stood out for being an ideal player to coach and an ideal player to have as a teammate." - Kevin Kalish, technical director at the Scott Gallagher Soccer Club
"Josh doesn’t care whether he plays at the Weserstadion or Platz 11 [the U23 pitch], and he wouldn’t care about playing in front of 80,000 in Dortmund. He can block that out, a quality Pizarro also has. That can make the difference between a good and an outstanding player." - Bremen coach Kohfeldt
"He’s very dangerous and always in the right place." - Bremen teammate Ludwig Augustinsson