Rising star Sargent returns to St. Louis with USMNT

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Josh Sargent’s red hair could become as known in St. Louis as the Gateway Arch one day if he develops into an American soccer star.

Fresh off a spectacular strike for his first goal of the Bundesliga season, the 19-year-old forward is slated to start in his hometown Tuesday night when the United States plays Uruguay in an exhibition at Busch Stadium.

“There’s really no better feeling than playing for your country in your home city,” he said.

At least 60 family and friends are expected at the match.

Sargent left St. Dominic High School in O’Fallon, Missouri, in the middle of 10th grade and scored four goals at the 2017 Under-20 World Cup. He agreed to sign with Werder Bremen when he turned 18 the following February and added three goals at the 2017 Under-17 World Cup, joining Freddy Adu in 2007 as the only Americans to play in both FIFA youth tournaments in the same year.

He scored in his U.S. senior national team debut against Bolivia in May 2018, making an audacious interception of a goalkeeper’s pass over his head, at 18 years, 102 days the fourth-youngest American with an international goal. Then, on Dec. 7 against Fortuna Duesseldorf, he scored less than two minutes into his professional debut .

Success came fast.

And then his career stalled.

He made eight more substitute appearances, got his only start Feb. 22 against Stuttgart, then didn’t play at all after coming on in the 84th minute against Mainz on March 30.

“With the youth teams in growing up, I was always used to being one of the best players, always being one of the coach’s favorites,” he said. “So to go on the opposite side of that, yeah, it was pretty tough for me, I’d say. … With my confidence, it kind of hurt a little bit.”

New U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter picked Sargent for his training camp ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup rather than have Sargent make a repeat appearance at the Under-20 World Cup. But Sargent’s form was off, an injury to Sebastian Llletget changed Berhalter’s needs, and Sargent was cut from the 23-man roster for the tournament.

Sargent was angry and admits “it took a few days for me to really calm down about the situation.” He returned to his family in Missouri, went on vacation and reported to Bremen for the start of training on June 30.

“It’s not us making these decisions that can change the course of history. It’s completely up to the player in how he responds and I would say Josh responded in the fashion that we’d expect or we’d want,” Berhalter said. “He was very motivated. He used the time to first rest and then attack preseason. … He realized that positions are fragile in soccer, that you have to work for every single thing you get and he went out there and earned himself playing time.”

Sargent was on the field for only eight minutes in Bremen’s first two games, started against Augsburg on Sept. 1 and gave Bremen a 2-1 lead in a 3-2 victory. He streaked into the penalty area and controlled Nuri Sahin’s 30-yard pass over the defense with his right foot, chested the ball ahead, then used his right foot to loft the ball over Tomas Koubek as he sprinted past the goalkeeper. As the ball was about to hit the ground, Sargent volleyed it into the open net with his right foot from 6 yards.

“The biggest thing to be honest is just my overall confidence and how good I feel about myself,” Sargent said. “I definitely feel a lot more a part of the team this year and having played in a few games already last season, I feel more comfortable on the pitch. … The life is good and the city’s good, everything. I’m in a happy place right now.”

Sargent also scored for the U.S. in an October exhibition against Peru . He entered Friday’s friendly against Mexico in New Jersey in the 67th minute for his eighth international appearance and was given the ball by star midfielder Christian Pulisic for a late penalty kick. Sargent was stopped by goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco to preserve the shutout in Mexico’s 3-0 win.

“It happens,” Sargent said. “You’ve just got to move on to the next one.”

Berhalter cautions Sargent that he already is at a high level and that pro soccer players need a thick skin.

“How many guys are 19 years old and scoring in the Bundesliga?” the coach said. “We saw it took a little bit of toll on him, but again, what I’m focusing on now is how he used the summer, how he used disappointment to help his situation, and we’re really proud of him for that.”

NOTES: Berhalter said Sargent, defender Tim Ream and midfielder Jackson Yuiell will start. Ream, like Sargent, played for the St. Louis Scott Gallagher club … Four of Friday’s starters have returned to their clubs: Pulisic, goalkeeper Zack Steffen and midfielders Weston McKennie and Alfredo Morales. Injured defender John Brooks and backup goalkeeper Sean Johnson also have gone back to their teams.

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Griezmann: Playing for Barcelona is ‘not the easiest’

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Over the summer, Barcelona shelled a whopping $135 million to land Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid.

It was a match made in heaven; the rest was supposed to be history.

Only that hasn’t been the case for the Frenchman in Barcelona.

Despite scoring a brace in his debut at the Camp Nou, Griezmann’s impact and influence on the field has quickly dwindled. In 11 league appearances with the Catalan giants, the 28-year-old has scored four goals and added three assists, signs that the World Cup winner is, in fact, struggling with his new team.

Speaking to Telefoot, Griezmann revealed that playing for Barcelona is not an easy thing to do, but that with hard work, his fortunes will turn around for the best:

“It is hard, I knew it would be, it is not the easiest place. This is a new team, a new club, new tactics, a new position. I have to work, try to understand my team-mates, after they will understand me too and it will work just like that… Critics will always be there. But I am good, I am proud of where I am. Only work pays off. I have to take confidence and it will all come just like that.”

This season, Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has frequently deployed the Frenchman as a left winger, with the hope that he will link up with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. The positives form such an ideology have yet to be reaped, however. Griezmann is scoring a goal every 224 minutes, a career worst.

The 28-year-old, too, has played in a central role on a couple of occasions, specifically during the absences of Messi and Suarez, but it hasn’t worked out for a player that has made a career from roaming that part of the field.

The building clamor at the Camp Nou is borderline justifiable – mainly because it’s now evident that Griezmann is wrestling with adapting to the expectations and systems in place in Barcelona.

But the high-flying attacker has proven he’s worth the price time and time again, and now he’s on the record saying that he’ll do everything in his power to do so with his new club.

Real Monarchs beat Louisville City to win first ever USL Cup

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Real Monarchs scored three unanswered goals as they routed Louisville City 3-1 at Lynn Stadium to win their first ever USL Cup title.

Noah Powder’s goal in the 66th minute sealed the deal for the visitor’s, adding to the goals scored by defenders Erik Holt and Konrad Plewa in the first half.

Surprisingly enough, it was Lou City who got off to a superb start on Sunday night, though.

Only six minutes after the initial whistle, Lou City’s leading goalscorer, Magnus Rasmussen, scored the game’s first goal, breaking a record for the fastest goal in a USL Cup final.

The defeat brings an end to Lou City’s historic run of consecutive USL Cup-winning seasons.

On July 1, former Real Salt Lake defender, Jamison Olave, took over as the Monarchs interim coach following Martin Vasquez’s unexpected resignation.

Man arrested after English soccer player reports homophobia

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TRANMERE, England — A footballer in England’s third tier reported being subjected to homophobic abuse from the stands, leading to police making one arrest.

Wycombe goalkeeper Ryan Allsop told the referee of the abuse at halftime of the League One soccer game at Tranmere as his team won 2-0.

Tranmere says it is very disappointed to learn of a homophobic comment made.

In a statement, Merseyside Police condemned abhorrent incidents.

Police Chief Inspector Jason Crellin added that “hate crime has no place in our communities, and not least at a showcase sporting event attended and watched by many people.”

Brazil beat Mexico to win U-17 World Cup (video)

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Brazil became Under-17 world champions for a fourth time in dramatic fashion as Lazaro Vinicius Marques’ scored a 93rd-minute winner to edge Mexico 2-1 at Estadio Bezerrão on Sunday.

Brazil’s comeback started in the 84th minute when Kaio Jorge converted from the penalty spot, following VAR’s decision which ruled contact on the tournament’s Golden Ball winner, Gabriel Veron, inside the 18-yard box.

With Brazilian legends Ronaldo and Cafu in attendance, the host’s had the better of chances throughout the first 45 minutes. Without any luck, however, Brazil were unable to get the ball past Eduardo Garcia, instead hitting the bar on several occasions.

Then in the 66th minute, Mexico – winners of the tournament in 2005 and in 2011 – stunned the home crowd when Bronze Ball winner Eugenio Pizzoto’s cross into the box was headed into the back of the net by Bryan Alonso Gonzalez Olivan, breaking the deadlock between two sides that had met in the same game back in 2005.

What was going to be a stunning, underdog victory for El Tri, turned into a heartbreaking night for Marco “Chima” Ruiz and company.

Brazil, on the other hand, are now only one championship away from tying Nigeria’s record of five championships.