Berget sees recent goals as result of hard work, adjusting to MLS

ORANGEBURG, N.Y. — Jo Inge Berget is just 27 years old, but the New York City FC forward has the mentality of a sage.

It has been instrumental for the bearded Norwegian to adjusting to a new league, a midseason coaching change with Dome Torrent replacing Patrick Vieira as well as working through a goal-scoring slump.

Amidst the upheaval, Berget has a Zen-like philosophy: Just continue to do the work and the reward will come.

“I’ve been in the game for a while so I know it’s going to go up and down,” Berget said. “Of course, you always want it to go up and up and up. That’s not the case always. At times it’s a bit frustrating when you miss and miss and miss, but that’s just the way it is. Eventually it has to turn around.”

It did in a big way in a come-from-behind win over Toronto FC on June 24 with Berget scoring a second-half brace. They were his first goals since netting his first in MLS in a 4-0 romp over Real Salt Lake on April 11.

He followed that with another goal in a 3-2 loss in Chicago on Saturday.

“I felt like I was doing the same as I’ve been doing,” Berget said. “This time it bounced a little bit my way. You can say I’ve been unlucky before or not good enough in front of the goal. Now they went in and it’s always a nice feeling when you score the goals instead of missing your chances.”

Berget also knows any striker is judged, ultimately, by the number of goals he scores and that hasn’t been frequent enough for his liking. The chances, though, have been there pretty consistently.

He had 17 shots — only four on frame though — between his first goal and the brace against TFC. Fans rumbled about his constant inclusion in the lineup, as he’s started every game he was healthy for, and some fans even longed for Vieira to make the switch to Jonathan Lewis in the starting XI before hoping change would come under Torrent.

While the goals weren’t coming, Berget’s work rate never faltered. He made selfless runs to create space for teammates and tracked back deep to provide defensive help. Before David Villa went off injured, that was a big part of Berget’s role against the Reds in defending Michael Bradley.

“The working and the running part of the game is huge for me. That’s part of my game,” Berget said. “Of course, as a fan you would like to see goals and dribbles and stuff like that and you may not notice all the dirty work as you call it. But for the teammates and the coaches, they all know what work you put in. Of course, it’s always nice to top that with some goals.”