The Copa America is fast approaching and that means the final rosters are inching ever closer as well. The old guard of the USMNT is getting, well, old, and the future of the team still feels a few years off. These are the transition guys right here, and it is no easy job for Jurgen Klinsmann to filter between the two.
The USMNT has a healthy array of both camps at the striker position. Guys like Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore are bonafide choices. They have proven themselves ten times over and so too has Chris Wondolowski. Gyasi Zardes and Bobby Wood have versatility enough to play wide as well as up front, so they gain a boost in the rankings as well.
But the one man that is being tragically forgotten, probably because of his lack of international inclusion lately, is C.J. Sapong. And no, I’m not just saying this because Sapong took time to speak with us here at Stateside of Soccer. MLSsoccer.com makes the point loud and clear, but they back out of making the claim that needs to be made. Sapong should absolutely be included on that Copa America roster.
Sapong has a combination that no other striker has. He is a complete option, as MLSsoccer.com points out. He can do it all and he plays all over the pitch, not just in the opposing third. That has come from the new revamp to the Philadelphia system. He is an aerial threat where so few others are. He holds up play where so few others can. And he makes himself a nuisance in the box. Sapong accounts for 50% of the Unions’ goals, but even the ones he didn’t directly score or assist on, he was a piece of.
He occupies the defense, he takes up space, he controls the ball in tight spaces. These are things that the USMNT can use in abundance.
Who then should he replace? Well, that’s the tough part. MLSsoccer.com includes Jordan Morris at Sapong’s expense. This is where I find my grievance. Morris is a solid player and he figures to be a future star. But he has only recently started scoring. Recently as in the past couple weeks. Sapong, meanwhile is the spearhead of an upstart Union team that looks committed to making a strong, well-rounded playoff run.
Sapong is a team player with work ethic to die for and an incredibly pleasant demeanor. That ethic is finally translating into goals, which is not so coincidentally linked to the Unions rapid rise.
The only thing that the Union man doesn’t have in abundance is international experience. And I’ll admit, that is a drawback. But given how far that experience has gotten the USMNT in recent competitions, I’m not so convinced that a little fresh blood would be a bad thing.