USMNT striker search ahead of Copa America 2024 - Part 1

  • The USMNT has struggled in recent years to find the right starting striker
  • Gregg Berhalter's side will want to nail down the center-forward position ahead of the upcoming Copa America tournament
  • Folarin Balogun, Ricardo Pepi and Josh Sargent will be among the favorites to start against Panama on June 27
The USMNT are still searching for their starting striker
The USMNT are still searching for their starting striker / Omar Vega/GettyImages

The US men's national team will hope to nail down their starting striker position ahead of this summer's all-important Copa America tournament on home soil.

The USMNT will be expected to go far into the upcoming competition with Gregg Berhalter at the helm for the Stars and Stripes. While the US' midfield and defense have improved over the years, many players have found it difficult to make the center-forward position their own to partner Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah in the attack.

Even though Weah and Pulisic have been involved in most of the goals up front for the USMNT, Berhalter's side won't be able to go as far as they'd like in Copa America without an out-and-out striker to lead the line. Berhalter himself has struggled to stick with one striker since his initial appointment back in 2018.

At the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Berhalter went back-and-forth between Josh Sargent and Haji Wright in the Group Stage before throwing FC Dallas talisman Jesus Ferreira into the lineup in the US' 3-1 Round of 16 defeat to the Netherlands.

While the bulk of the players on the Striker Search list will be players currently in Europe, don't be surprised to see a few Major League Soccer strikers that could be on their way across the pond in the near future.

USMNT Strikers:

  • Folarin Baloguna
  • Ricardo Pepi
  • Josh Sargent
  • Brandon Vazquez
  • Haji Wright
  • Jordan Pefok
  • Nicholas Gioacchini
  • Daryl Dike
  • Duncan McGuire
  • Jesus Ferreira

USMNT Striker Search - Part 1

1. Folarin Balogun

Folarin Balogun
Balogun joined AS Monaco last summer / Jonathan Moscrop/GettyImages

Shockwaves were sent around the international soccer world when Folarin Balogun decided to make the one-time FIFA approved switch from England to the USMNT last spring.

The former Arsenal player hasn't exactly found the same form that saw him net 22 goals for Stade de Reims in 2022/2023, but he's still netted seven goals and four assists in Ligue 1 action this term and is presumably the favorite to start up front on June 27 against Panama.

In just 10 appearances for the US, Balogun has bagged three goals that incudes a key strike in the 2023 CONCACAF Nations League final victory over Canada.

2. Ricardo Pepi

Ricardo Pepi
Pepi has struggled to earn starts at PSV / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Ricardo Pepi is another well-known USMNT striker that isn't too far behind Balogun in the center-forward pecking order.

Pepi has made the most of his limited minutes in his first season with Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven, recording seven goals and two assists in just one start -- 416 minutes played in 25 appearances.

The 21-year-old has proven to be efficient up front for the US when given the chance as he's bagged 10 goals in 23 appearances.

3. Josh Sargent

Josh Sargent
Sargent has enjoyed a breakout year with Norwich City / Stephen Pond/GettyImages

Josh Sargent's performances with Norwich City in the EFL Championship may get overlooked from time-to-time as it isn't the glamorous Premier League, but the former Werder Bremen player has enjoyed a career season with the Canaries.

The 24-year-old set a new career-high in goals scored in a single season with 16 goals in Championship pay this term, which was good enough to secure a tie for fifth-most goals scored in the division.

With 23 appearances to his name at the international level for the USMNT, Sargent has managed five goals since making his debut in May 2018.

4. Brandon Vazquez

Brandon Vazquez
Brandon Vazquez has shined for Rayados / Jam Media/GettyImages

Although Brandon Vazquez hasn't got his desired move to Europe just yet after starring for FC Cincinnati in MLS, he's continued to bang in the goals for Liga MX giants Monterrey after joining over the winter.

Vazquez has proven to be a true target man who can do it all no matter the system he's deployed in. The 25-year-old has tallied 10 goals in 24 appearances for Rayados, while also notching four goals in just eight appearances for the Stars and Stripes.

5. Haji Wright

Haji Wright
Haji Wright nearly led Coventry City to FA Cup glory / Nathan Stirk/GettyImages

Haji Wright made headlines not too long ago with his converted penalty kick in stoppage time to give Coventry City a chance against Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-finals. Wright went on to slot home his penalty attempt during the shootout, proving he can be relied on during the clutch.

If Berhalter doesn't see Wright as his center-forward from the start of matches, perhaps the former Schalke 04 player could be deployed near the end of contests as a super-sub with his impressive four goals in nine appearances for the USMNT.

6. Jordan Pefok

Borussia Mönchengladbach v Sport-Club Freiburg - Bundesliga
Jordan Pefok could be what the USMNT are missing up front / Sebastian El-Saqqa - firo sportphoto/GettyImages

Jordan Pefok is another talented USMNT striker that has gone under the radar in recent seasons. The 28-year-old has bagged five goals in just 17 starts this term for Borussia Monchengladbach in the German Bundesliga.

Pefok could prove to be a dark-horse option for the Stars and Stripes with his proven track record in Germany, Switzerland and France. On the international level, Pefok has managed one goals in nine appearances for the US.