Soto shows signs of talent but City struggles prevents him shining
- Credit: Crystal Palace FC
Sebastian Soto's Norwich City recall was met with plenty of excitement by supporters and his first appearance in yellow and green displayed glimpses of why he is rated so highly.
The American international returned to Norfolk last week after the Canaries secured a work permit ensuring he was eligible to feature after spending half a season on loan in the second-tier of the Netherlands with SC Telstar.
Seven goals in 12 matches and rave reviews from Telstar boss and ex-Arsenal academy manager Andries Jonker earned the 20-year-old a chance to continue his development with his parent club.
Soto's return was highly-anticipated and his first U23 performance was one where his technical qualities were fully on display.
In the first half, Soto was partnered by former Cork City and Preston North End striker Connor Simpson. His aerial dominance and physicality caused problems for Crystal Palace's defensive duo, allowing Soto to occupy positions both in deeper positions to link the play and in behind to stretch it.
Despite not being someone looking to engage with the physical side of the game, Soto is intelligent with his movement.
After just three minutes, the Californian striker beat two defenders down the left before cutting inside and dragging his effort just wide of the post. Moments later, the ball sat up kindly for Soto from range, but his half-volley was ballooned over the bar.
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His link-up play was evident after 29 minutes, when his contribution was influential in carving out City's best opening of the encounter in South London. The American located a pocket of space and took the ball on the half-turn, before pushing a pass into the path of Rob Nizet.
The Belgian full-back found Matthew Dennis on the edge of the area, and his deflected shot was saved by Palace keeper Jacob Russell.
In terms of tangible goal-scoring opportunities, Soto was restricted to very little. It was the other areas of his game that were impressive.
One-touch in particular was outstanding. Louis Lomas fired a ball into Soto's path around his midriff, he stuck out a leg and controlled the ball dead before slotting winger Josh Giurgi in behind.
The second period was more troublesome for Soto. Simpson's withdrawal saw him operate as a lone striker and he struggled to get him into the game despite City enjoying more possession.
VERDICT: Soto has more to do should he wish to force his way into Daniel Farke's first-team thoughts, but clearly the raw materials for success are present.
His technical proficiency looks geared towards a player identified to play in Farke's system, and his movement is akin to that Teemu Pukki has displayed since signing for the Canaries in 2018. Considering he only joined up with David Wright's youngsters a matter of days ago, he linked up well with his teammates.
Work on his game as a lone striker has to take place for him to continue his development but this was a very difficult afternoon for any City player to leave their mark.