CHESTER, Pa. -- C.J. Sapong is aware of the buzz.
And as the Philadelphia Union striker continues to score goals, he knows it will only grow louder.
But Sapong is trying his best to block out all of those calls for him to get a look with the US national team, as flattering as they may be.
“Everyone needs the next thing to talk about and the next thing to hype up,” Sapong told reporters after his fourth goal of the season helped the Union earn a 2-0 win over New York City FC on Saturday. “For me, I know in the past, whenever I’ve paid attention to things like that, all it’s done is kind of take my focus away from what’s really important. So I just let those people say whatever they feel. I’m just playing my game for the Philadelphia Union right now.”
Union head coach Jim Curtin also did his best to downplay the recent national team attention Sapong is getting, saying that “bloggers can say anything.” Of course, the Union striker has also been receiving USMNT love from far more prominent people, including broadcaster Taylor Twellman.
And although Curtin said that he doesn’t “believe in me talking about what Jurgen Klinsmann should do,” he did admit that the 27-year-old is talented enough to aspire to return to the national team after a four-year absence.
“Is C.J. a great striker? Yes, he is,” Curtin said. “He’s a great No. 9. He’s a good target. The plays he makes to hold the ball up are as good as anybody in our league now. And he has a knack for getting on the end of crosses.”
Sapong’s goal Saturday was perhaps the perfect showcase to his target-forward abilities as he muscled past two defenders to nod down a deep free kick to Sebastien Le Toux before deflecting Le Toux’s ensuing shot into the back of the net.
And even when he’s not scoring goals, his hold-up play has really impressed his teammates -- including Maurice Edu, one of the only players to get a USMNT call-up while with the Union.
“I think it’s well deserved with the start he’s had and the way he finished off last season,” Edu told MLSsoccer.com when asked about Sapong's USMNT speculation. “I think he’s put his name up there with the top strikers in this league. That wouldn’t surprise me at all.
“It’s not just the goal scoring but I think his overall level of play, the way he holds up the ball, the way he contributes defensively, his attitude, his approach to the game,” Edu added. “He’s in the right state of mind and he’s a big part of this team.”