Should C.J. Sapong be back in the US national team picture?
After a hot start to the season following a productive 2015 campaign as the Philadelphia Union’s lone striker, that seems to be the prevailing thought among some MLS experts, including, most recently, ESPN broadcaster Taylor Twellman.
Sapong has only earned two caps with the US national team and none since 2012, when he was in his second season with Sporting Kansas City and coming off an MLS Rookie of the Year campaign. In the two seasons after that, Sapong saw his playing time dip before SKC dealt him to Philadelphia, where his career has been rejuvenated.
Last season, Sapong scored a team-leading nine goals despite dealing with a series of injuries and off-the-field issues. And after the Union locked him up to a new contract in the offseason, the striker is off to a hot start in 2016 with three goals in the Union’s first five games, helping Philly surge to the top of the Eastern Conference.
At 27, Sapong would still be around his prime during the 2018 World Cup. But he’d have to contend with a forward corps that features 26-year-old Jozy Altidore and a fleet of younger players that includes Ethan Finlay (25), Gyasi Zardes (24), Bobby Wood (23) and Jordan Morris (21), among others.
Can Sapong join that mix and perhaps even emerge as a veteran of the group? One thing seems for certain: if he keeps scoring goals at a high rate in MLS while performing the hold-up duties that have fueled Philly's attack, he should, at the very least, catch Jurgen Klinsmann's eye.