AP

Rising star Sargent returns to St. Louis with USMNT

1 Comment

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.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Nuno ‘proud of the boys’ after Wolves’ magical UEL run ends

Nuno Wolves
Photo by Stuart Franklin - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nuno proud, but frustrated: Wolves’ 2019-20 campaign kicked off 383 days ago, on July 25, and finally ended on Tuesday in a late, heartbreaking defeat to Sevilla in the quarterfinals of the Europa League.

[ MORE: Lille sign $35-million Canadian star Jonathan David ]

From those early-round UEL qualifiers, to another fine season in the Premier League (finishing 7th), to reaching the quarterfinals, it’s been an incredible, dramatic, exhausting road for Nuno Espirito Santo and his players.

Speaking after the game, Espirito Santo revealed he was experiencing equal part pride and frustration at the way their season had just ended. Pride for meeting the challenges they faced along the way, and frustration for the missed opportunity — quotes from the BBC:

“We have frustration, in the last minutes it is something that has happened to us many times. We required focus on a set piece. I am proud of the boys, we played a tough team and we had moments, small details, small margins.

“That happens in football. We came this far and now it’s over. Let’s rest and look to the future. We need more players to help us, it’s a small squad.

“Sevilla made us run, we made a big effort to control it but of course there were players who gave everything and the legs and brain doesn’t work so good. We must be proud of ourselves, admit we made mistakes during the season that we need to rectify to compete at a high level. We must work harder and become stronger.

“We are here because we did things good the previous season. European football is something that we chase because we want to improve and compete agianst the best. The Premier League is challenging enough, it’s like playing the Champions League every week.”

The Wolves players will now have the next week or two off before reporting for the first day of 2020-21 preseason later this month. The 2020-21 Premier League season is currently scheduled for Sept. 12.

Europa League: Wolves knocked out by late Sevilla winner

Europa League Wolves
Photo by Friedemann Vogel/Pool via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Europa League: Wolves’ magical run through the Europa League came to an end on Tuesday, as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side was knocked out in the quarterfinals by UEL specialists Sevilla.

[ MORE: Lille sign $35-million Canadian star Jonathan David ]

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-1 Sevilla

Sevilla were quite comfortably the better side on the night, the side with the vast majority of the scoring chances, and thoroughly deserving semifinalists. Julen Lopetegui’s side will face Manchester United in the semis on Sunday.

It didn’t come easily for Sevilla, though. The game remained level at 0-0 for 87 minutes, until Lucas Ocampos rose above the crowd to head home his 16th goal of the season in the 88th minute.

Wolves had the game’s first — and virtually their only — chance to go ahead inside the first quarter-hour, but Raul Jimenez was denied from the penalty spot in the 12th minute. The real story here, however, is the ease with which Adama Traore left the pack behind and dribbled the ball 81 yards before Diego Carlos cut him down from behind.

Jimenez’s blunder from the spot was one of just two shots on target — both by Jimenez — that Wolves could muster in the game.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Havertz to Chelsea; Ramsey available ]

Sevilla began to ramp up the pressure after halftime and went dangerously close to breaking the deadlock just after the hour mark, as Youssef En-Nesyri weaved his way through traffic inside the penalty area before firing a low strike on goal. Fortunately for Wolves, Rui Patricio was all over and denied En-Nesyri his wondergoal.

Ever Banega forced Patricio to make a vital save of his curling free kick in the 77th minute, but again the Portuguese was up to the challenge. He scrambled across goal and rose high to get a hand on the ball and push it over the crossbar.

Shakhtar Donetsk thrashed Basel 4-1 in Tuesday’s other quarterfinal. They will face Inter Milan in the second semifinal next Monday.

Other Europa League scores

Shakhtar Donetsk 4-1 Basel
Man United 1-0 Copenhagen (Monday)
Inter Milan 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen (Monday)

Lille sign $35-million Canadian star Jonathan David

Lille sign Jonathan David
Photo by Shaun Clark/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lille sign Jonathan David: Lille announced on Tuesday their signing of Canadian star Jonathan David from Belgian side Gent for a reported transfer fee of $35 million.

[ MORE: Transfer news: Havertz to Chelsea; Ramsey available ]

The fee paid is a record not only for a Canadian player, but also makes David Lille’s club-record signing and the most expensive player ever sold by a Belgian club.

David had been linked with a move to dozens of clubs across Europe, including a handful of Premier League sides, in recent weeks but it would appear that Lille’s recent success with young players starring in the first team, before selling them to those bigger European sides for massive profits, was an important factor in David’s decision to move to Ligue 1.

[ MORE: Spurs sign Hojbjerg from Southampton; Walker-Peters to Saints ]

The 20-year-old operates predominantly as a center forward but has, on rare occasions, played as a second striker underneath the main man. David racked up 48 goals and 20 assists in his two seasons at Gent, including a number of standout performances in the Europa League.

Wolves – Sevilla: How to watch, start time, prediction

Wolves - Sevilla
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Wolves – Sevilla should be an epic UEFA Europa League quarterfinal on Tuesday (start time, 3pm ET) in Duisburg, Germany as both teams will fancy their chances of winning the trophy if they advance.

Remember: these ties are one-legged encounters so the winner on the night will advance to the semifinal.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

Nuno Espirito Santo and Wolves have come through the qualifying rounds to get this far as the Premier League side have been in the 2019-20 Europa League for over a year, while Sevilla are the unofficial top dogs in the competition having won it more times than any team in history.

The La Liga side finished fourth this season in Spain under Julen Lopetegui, while Wolves finished seventh in the Premier League and know the only way they will be playing in Europe next season is if they win this competition and there qualify for the Champions League.

Ahead of a huge night for Wolves, below is a look at how to watch Wolves – Sevilla in the USA, the betting odds, prediction and much more.


Team news

What they’re saying

Nuno Espirito Santo praised Sevilla and knows his team have a big challenge ahead, while he backed his team to take the next step on their three-year journey together:

“It’s been a long journey, not only this season. A long journey that started three seasons ago in the Championship. It’s basically the same group of players. It was about trying to build a team, creating an identity, and we look forward to tomorrow to compete well and play a good game. We’ve been able to create an identity. It’s one of the most precious things in football – having an identity, based on a style of play and how we deal and socialize with our rules and tasks, how we deal with problems that happen. Trying to create a team, recruiting players, some take time, some not, but this is what it’s all about. We have to manage the result and I’m very proud of how we’ve done things and now I can say we have our own identity. It’s based on strong foundations of respect and hard work, and this is what we want to show tomorrow – a good team, with an identity, committed to the challenge.”

Sevilla star Lucas Ocamps on the threat Wolves possess: “Anyone who watches a little football has already seen them play. I feel like they are very competitive and physical. They have great players and they come here hungry for glory to beat us. I think it will be evenly matched because we’ll have the same desire and it’s going to be tough.”


Odds for Wolves – Sevilla – Full Europa League, Champions League odds

Wolves are the underdogs (pardon the pun) as they are +235 to beat Sevilla who are +120, but the tie at +230 is interesting. We can see this going to extra time and maybe even penalty kicks.


Prediction for Wolves – Sevilla

Wolves love upsetting the odds and Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore will be looking to exploit Sevilla on the counter, but Sevilla are a savvy team and are third favorites to win the Europa League yet again. Wolves are dangerous but I’m going for a Sevilla win after extra time. 2-1.


How to watch, stream Champions League and Europa League

Dates: August 5-23
Location: Quarterfinals onwards in Lisbon/Germany
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: UCL here at NBCSports.com & Europa League here at NBCSports.com