‘What a dream start’ - US boss thrilled with City loan striker’s debut display

Norwich City striker Sebastian Soto scored twice during his USA debut Picture: Pieter Hoogeveen/1963

Norwich City striker Sebastian Soto scored twice during his USA debut Picture: Pieter Hoogeveen/1963-pictures - Credit: Archant

USA boss Gregg Berhalter was thrilled to see Norwich City striker Sebastian Soto enjoy a ‘dream start’ to life on the international stage.

The 20-year-old has continued his strong start to the season, having scored five goals in seven games for loan club Telstar in the Dutch second tier, since joining Norwich on a three-year contract from German side Hannover.

Having also had international interest from Chile, where his father was born, the Californian earned his first senior call-up from the USA having been capped throughout the age groups – scoring four goals at the U20 World Cup in 2019, where only Erling Haaland out-scored him prior to becoming a star for Borussia Dortmund and Norway.

He was kept on the bench during a 0-0 draw with Wales in Cardiff last Thursday but was brought on for his debut in the 77th minute of another friendly on Monday, against Panama in Austria, with the US 3-2 ahead – and scored two headers to help make it a 6-2 victory.

He replaced fellow 20-year-old striker Nicholas Gioacchini, who had also scored twice, and with the far more experienced Gyasi Zardes not involved in the friendlies, Berhalter was pleased to see both lay down their claim.

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“It was really important, for both of them,” said the US chief. “I’m really happy for both of them. With Sebastian, what a dream start, he played however many minutes and got two goals, that’s fantastic.

“He showed quality as well, for me It was a good performance from him and by Nicholas, but that’s important. We talked last week about potentially the depth chart of the forward position being limited, so any chance you get you’ve got to take it and those guys did a good job.”

WATCH: Soto’s brace on his US debut

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It may have been against a team 55 places lower than the US in the Fifa world rankings, with Panama ranked 77th, and Soto will still need to play in a competitive game to end Chile’s interest.

But both of Soto’s goals were close-range headers after good movement to get on the end of crosses from the right from PSV Eindhoven youngster Richard Ledezma, carrying out instructions from his coach.

“We were certainly more aggressive running behind their back line,” Berhalter added, speaking to US Soccer’s YouTube channel. “That’s something we stressed ever since the Wales game, we were way too static against Wales, some good ball movement but the finishing wasn’t there.

“The intention was to get behind the line more and that really helped the team, it really helped stretch Panama and give us the space that we needed.”

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