The U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team opens the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship on Sunday against Jamaica. As they step on the field looking to qualify for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, they’ll walk out behind Josh Sargent, who was appointed team captain this week by head coach John Hackworth.
Here are five things you should know about the man who will wear the armband for the U.S. in Panama:
St. Louis Bred
Hailing from the St. Louis suburb of O’Fallon, Josh Sargent made early plans when it came to soccer. According to his mother Liane, the future U-17 MNT forward learned how to kick a ball at age three and began telling friends and family that he was going to be a professional soccer player one day.
The soccer-rich environment of St. Louis certainly helped nurture those ambitions, but they were cultivated by his family as well. Both Liane and his father Jeff played collegiately, while his two sisters are also following in his footsteps in the game.
St. Louis Scott Gallagher
Sargent follows a long line of talent that suited up for powerhouse U.S. Soccer Development Academy Club St. Louis Scott Gallagher-Missouri, including current MNT defender Tim Ream, assistant coach Pat Noonan and former U.S. international Taylor Twellman.
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Along with having a soccer family, Sargent credits the players and staff at SLSG for helping him reach the U.S. Youth National Team setup.
“It has been great these past few years. Playing in the Development Academy has really improved my game and the coaches know what they’re talking about,” Sargent told ussoccer.com last October. “The coaches are great guys. They’ve not only taught me how to be a better soccer player but how to become a better person overall. They are the type of people that will take care of you, mentor you, and show you what to do and how to do it.”
U.S. Youth National Teams
Having first appeared at a U-14 Training Camp in 2013, Sargent progressed on to the U-15 level where he notably took part in an international training camp in England in 2015.
Towards the end of that year, Sargent played for the rising U-15 Boys National Team at the 2015 Nike International Friendlies and then joined the U-17 MNT Residency Program. Since heading to Bradenton, Sargent has amassed 14 goals and seven assists in 29 international matches, including his four goals and two assists during three matches as the U.S. won the 2016 Nike International Friendlies.
Making Professional Waves
Sargent’s play for the U-17 MNT has put him in the spotlight for more than a few professional clubs. Last Summer, the O’Fallen, Mo., product spent two weeks training with Sporting Kansas City, who has since been confirmed to hold his league rights should he decide to sign with M.L.S., but there could be other opportunities.
Later in October, Sargent took a week-long training spell with Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven – a club where current MNT left back DaMarcus Beasley got his European start. Then after training with the U-20 MNT in January, Sargent went on another stint with German club Schalke, where fellow U.S. youth internationals Haji Wright, Weston McKennie and Nicholas Taitague currently reside.
He’s the Captain
This week, U-17 MNT head coach John Hackworth confirmed Sargent as team captain for the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. Sargent began his current run wearing the armband in early November during a set of friendlies with Sunday’s opponents Jamaica and continued to wear it as he led the USA to the 2016 Nike International Friendlies title.
“It’s one thing being able to be part of a team like this and represent your country, and it’s a whole other level being able to represent such a special group of guys. It’s a great feeling. It’s an honor.”