Josh Sargent has suffered a hamstring injury and will be out until January. The USMNT striker’s potential issues convey the fragility of youth development.
Whenever a young player breaks through into the professional and senior vicinity, there is an immediate temptation to anoint them as the next great footballer.
It is natural. Supporters love to see the future unfold before their eyes, and young players are obviously the future. And whenever there is even a hint that the future might be prosperous, the hope begins to rise, the expectations swell with it, and the pressure mounts.
But the development of young players, however talented they may be, is extremely unpredictable. It is a fragile endeavour, one that ends in disappointment more than success. Nevertheless, whenever the next young starlet appears around the corner, fans’ minds immediately begin to spin forward, thinking about what may come in the future. Anyone remember Freddy Adu?
One of the premier young names bursting through the U.S. Men’s National Team ranks at present is centre-forward, Josh Sargent. Moving to Germany and Werder Bremen in 2017, Sargent has slowly but surely worked his way up both the domestic and international ranks, so much so that he is now almost the number one at the position for the USMNT — Gregg Berhalter is currently rotating between Sargent, Jozy Altidore and Gyasi Zardes, the latter two being much older than Sargent.
Sargent has semi-seriously been anointed as the next great USMNT attacker, helping to lead a flourishing generation alongside Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie, all of which have played or still play in the Bundesliga. This season has been the first campaign in which he is beginning to forge a starting role for himself.
But just as things were looking up for Sargent, injury strikes. This week, Werder Bremen head coach Florian Kohfeldt confirmed that Sargent has been dealing with a hamstring issue and will now face a spell on the sidelines to properly rehabilitate:
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"“It’s a small, deep-seated muscle, so it’s only under very specific stress that the problem shows itself. That’s why he was able to play in matches and train so much without any problems. We’ll give Josh the time he needs for the injury to heal. He’ll be back in training at the start of January.”"
What this means for Sargent’s immediate availability is not especially concerning. A month out of action is not ideal, of course, but we are not exactly talking about an ACL tear here. Nevertheless, the overarching point still remains: youth development is inherently fragile.
There is no guarantee that Sargent will grow into the player that many hope and expect him to one day become. He is an excellent talent with the qualities that you like to see in a young centre-forward, but as history proves, that means little.
Youth development is unreliable. And Sargent, while full of potential, is still in that growing process. So before the expectations rise to an unattainable level, let’s let him play, enjoy his football, and focus on getting fit.