‘Well, 42 goals do kind of stand out’ - what they say about Sebastian Soto
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Sebastian Soto has reportedly become Norwich City’s newest signing - although it might be a while before we see the 19-year-old American in action.
Currently with Bundesliga 2 side Hannover, Soto is free to leave when his contract expires next month – and City have agreed a deal to sign him. However, it looks like he will have to be loaned out because he won’t have a work permit – the chance to get one lost when the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of USA’s senior matches against the Netherlands and Wales in which he was due to feature.
Soto began his youth career with San Diego Surf, before moving to the Real Salt Lake youth team in 2016. He joined Hannover’s youth academy in August 2018 and made his first team debut in the Bundesliga last April as a substitute in a 3-1 defeat at VfL Wolfsburg.
He has some impressive credentials: in the 2019 U20 World Cup, he was second leading scorer behind Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland, with four goals. His goals ratio in 2018/19 was better than Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo. Before that, during his second season at Salt Lake, he topped the U15/16 Development Academy scoring charts with 31 goals in 29 games. The following season he got 42 in 27.
Real Salt Lake’s former academy director, and former USA national team assistant, Martin Vasquez said: “Soto was smart, getting in good areas around the box, attacking open spaces, [making] runs without the ball that make a lot of sense.”
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When Europe called it was no surprise.
“Well, 42 goals do kind of stand out,” said Real Salt Lake general manager Craig Waibel in an interview with Bundesliga.com. “He was a very solid striker before his 42-goal season, in that season he really found his way and what made him successful. It was a really special year.”
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The move came because Salt Lake had already filled the allotted academy places on their senior squad. Soto opted to leave the academy and follow the likes of Christian Pulisic and take his chance elsewhere.
“I’ve always had that dream of Europe, that was always my goal,” Soto told Goal. “We didn’t have so many guys to look up to. We had Christian [Pulisic] and Weston [McKennie] and those guys, so when you make that move people look at you like you’re crazy, but everything has worked out well so far.”
Soto scored 17 goals in 24 games for Hannover’s U19s, which earned him a senior debut and a place at the U20 World Cup.
“When he gets a chance, he puts it away,” USA U20 coach Tab Ramos told Goal. “People just can’t do that consistently. You have tons of great players who can’t score goals and he can. He’s quick and strong, and has a knack of being in the right place at the right time.”
It hasn’t worked out at Hannover, but their loss could be Norwich’s gain: at 19, he fits the description of the type of players City want. Now it’s just a game of patience.