SPOTLIGHT: St. Louis’ Josh Sargent is Lighting it Up at the U20 World Cup

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Not long after his 18th birthday next February, Josh Sargent will likely sign with one of three German-based clubs vying for his talents.

The O’Fallon 18-year-old has yet to start his senior year of high school, after a year-and-a-half at St. Dominic High School, then moving to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida – to train in the U.S. Soccer program. Currently, he is leading the U.S. U20 squad in scoring at the FIFA U20 World Cup, in South Korea.

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He is the youngest player on the roster, and his pair of goals in 3-3 tie versus Ecuador made him the youngest player in U.S. Soccer history to score at a U20 World Cup. He added his third goal of the tournament in the American’s second game, a 1-0 victory over Senegal.

His parents, Jeff and Liane Sargent, woke up at 3 a.m. in O’Fallon, Monday morning, not sure yet if their son would even play. Then they saw him walk out of the tunnel and take his place as the starting center forward.

“(After he scored) we obviously both jumped up and tried not to wake up the other two kids,” Jeff Sargent says. “But we may have.”

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(Photo by Joern Pollex – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Josh is the middle child to two sisters, Taylor and Alyssa. And the son of two former college soccer players: Jeff played Junior College soccer at Florissant Valley under Coach Pete Sorber, before transferring to a NAIA school in Springfield, Illinois, and Liane played at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville.

So, to see their son score nine goals in his first organized soccer game at age 3, wasn’t really that big of a surprise.

Josh Sargent played his academy soccer at St. Louis Scott-Gallagher at 9-years-old, coached by his dad until he was 12. Then he was placed into a higher level team at SLSG, coached by Kevin Kalish.

Unfortunatley for Kalish, Sargent started receiving invites from U.S. Soccer to U14 national camps, but still played as often as possible for SLSG.

“National team coaches would say ‘he’s a prospect at the moment that’s exceeding expectations, he checks the boxes,’” Kalish says. “He’s a No. 9 that scores, that’s something that’s really difficult to find not only in the United States, but anywhere in the world.”

678015178 SPOTLIGHT: St. Louis Josh Sargent is Lighting it Up at the U20 World Cup

USA footballer Josh Sargent celebrates after scoring against Honduras during their Under-17 Concacaf qualifying football match at the Maracana stadium on May 3, 2017 in Panama City. / AFP PHOTO / RODRIGO ARANGUA (Photo credit should read RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)

Josh Sargent played his first friendly in a U.S. Soccer uniform at 15-years-old, and soon made the move to IMG Academy to be able to train daily, with the best players in the world.

“There was some trepidation,” Jeff Sargent says. “You know, he left his school, his friends, girlfriend, so all of that isn’t easy. But that goes back to when I said ‘What’s your goal, and what do you have to do to get it?’ He knew that’s where he had to be.”

That goal, since a young age, is to play professionally in Europe. The Sargent family flew to Germany in February, for Josh to tryout with multiple clubs. Jeff Sargent says the three they are the “most comfortable with” are (in no particular order): FC Schalke, SV Werder Bremen and VfB Stuttgart.

As of Friday, the U.S. U20’s are at the top of its World Cup group. Jeff Sargent says his son will return to O’Fallon after the tournament, hopefully with some hardware.

The next game for the U.S. is on Sunday at 4 a.m. CST against Saudi Arabia.

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