Following their last-gasp escape from relegation last season via the play-off, Werder Bremen are looking to turn things around this season. Coach Florian Kohfeldt has a plethora of strikers at his disposal, but it looks like it could be young US forward Josh Sargent who he trusts to lead the line for the Grün-Weißen.
The loss of Max Kruse was a blow to Bremen going into last season, but none of the other strikers at the club were able to step into his boots and replicate his goals. Niclas Füllkrug suffered a season-ending injury right at the start, Yuya Osako scored eight to finish as joint top scorer along with Milot Rashica, while Johannes Eggestein struggled for minutes. Davie Selke’s loan from Hertha Berlin brought a total of four goals as he too struggled.
Josh Sargent made fifteen starts and scored four goals, but after impressing at the tail end of the season and in pre-season, the 20-year-old Missourian looks set to be given his chance to lead the attack.
“Right now, I can’t imagine a starting XI that doesn’t include Josh Sargent,” Kohfeldt explained recently. “For me, he’s in pole position for the opening weekend of the season.
“The combination of his strength, physicality, work off the ball, his improved tactical understanding and positional flexibility – it all speaks volumes for him as a player,” the Werder coach added.
“He brings a lot to the table. He can play wide or as the central striker in a 4-3-3, and he can play as a second striker in a 4-4-2. He showed real progress during the end of last season. I just want to say: Josh is no longer the contender.”
Sargent, who joined the North German club in 2017, scored an impressive goal in Werder’s final game of the season (6-1 v Köln) and provided a valuable assist during the play-off away leg which saw Bremen triumph on the away goals rule. Pre-season has seen further impressive displays against both Groningen and St. Pauli giving Florian Kohfeldt every confidence to play the ex-Sporting Kansas striker as his first-choice next season.
“We’ve got several options up front. We’re always pushing each other and trying to make it a difficult decision for the coach,” Sargent told a press conference earlier this week.
“At the end of the day, I don’t care about what people are saying, I have to focus on myself and work hard. My mentality can be a big advantage. I want to be one of the guys who works the hardest on the pitch.”
If Werder are going to improve upon last season’s dismal showing the defence is going to have to improve, but a regular source of goals will also go a long way to turning things around in the Hansastadt. Josh Sargent has served his apprenticeship in the Bundesliga experiencing the lows, could this season be the one to see him break out and start to enjoy the highs?