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Goal Scoring Serendipity: The Haji Wright Brace

Haji Wright brace

EDITORIAL – Haji Wright drifts into space between defenders, 40 yards from the Jamaican goal. Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna work the ball through the middle. Wright sees that Reyna is about to get to the ball with space and visibility up field. The 25-year-old times his run perfectly with the pass from Reyna. He dribbles forward and slips the ball past Andre Blake. Haji Wright has just scored the winning goal to send the United States Men’s national Team to the Nations League Final. He would go on to back a brace as the Yanks won 3-1.

Goal Scoring Serendipity: The Haji Wright Brace

Wright has possibly had the best week of his professional career. He scored a goal for Coventry City to send them to Wembley in the FA Cup. They’re in competition for promotion. His 13 goals and six assists are a big part of that. He has four goals in eight appearances (one start) and just 311 minutes for the Yanks.

He might be one of the most unexpectedly serendipitous players in the history of the USMNT. He was an unexpected addition to the squad for the Qatar World Cup and scored a goal against the Netherlands to give the U.S. hope.

All three of his competitive goals for the USMNT have had similarities. They involve creating/finding space against the backline against an opponent that has numbers back. They were all in games the USMNT were chasing. This is something they have struggled with against greater and lesser competition under Gregg Berhalter.

Now the goal at the World Cup was probably luck. The two goals on Thursday were calm finishes in a pressure moment. That second goal was fantastic. And for all the talk of him being the traditional No. 9 of the group at 6’3″, he sure is doing a lot of skill stuff Gregg Berhalter wants from his strikers.

READ MORE: Giovanni Reyna: The Key To The USMNT

His ceiling might not seem as high because of the clubs he’s played at or his pedigree relative to other strikers in the pool. He’s not as hyped a Folarin Balogun. The sample size is still relatively small. And if his touch on that ball in Qatar was an inch one way or another, he probably doesn’t score on that play. Maybe him being a World Cup scorer makes us look at him differently.

Is Haji Wright the best striker in the United States pool? Probably not. Most wouldn’t peg him as the starter right now for the World Cup in two years? But in the critical moments, this team has and will be judged on results. Wright’s gotten it done.

He should get more call ups, minutes, and even some starts. He might get it tonight against Mexico. If he has another serendipitous goal, maybe that Haji Wright brace against Jamaica wasn’t luck or serendipity after all.

Mar 21, 2024; Arlington, Texas, USA; United States midfielder Haji Wright (14) and forward Josh Sargent (11) and United States forward Brenden Aaronson (11) and forward Christian Pulisic (10) and forward Ricardo Pepi (9) and defender Antonee Robinson (5) celebrate after Wright scores the game winning goal against Jamaica during extra time at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports


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