There was silence that descended on Carrow Road in the 79th minute as Josh Sargent fell to the ground and hit the turf.
On Wednesday, the 22-year-old Norwich striker was told by USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter that he was going to the World Cup, and here he was worried for a moment that the dream is shattered.
The challenge, in Norwich’s 2-1 loss to Middlesbrough on Saturday, left Sargent with a kick to the left ankle and a cut to the side of his right knee. He was replaced soon after.
But at the final whistle, there was no doubt in his mind that this was going to interfere with his schedule for the next few weeks.
“I’ll be fine. It (the World Cup) crossed my mind, but at the same time I think I knew it wouldn’t be too bad or I wouldn’t go,” Sargent said.
“It certainly hurt a bit. I have no idea what happened. The ankle he fell on and that was what worried me at first, then when I got up I felt the cut more. But I’m fine.
“I think if you think about it too much (injure yourself) and try to play in a different way, it would probably lead to injury, so I just tried to go out there and play the same way as d ‘habit.”
With the initial panic passed, you could feel Sargent starting to relish the idea of a trip to Qatar – which will take place on Sunday – before joining the USMNT squad ahead of their Group B opener, against the Country of Wales on November 21.
They will then face England four days later, before rounding up against Iran.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” Sargent said. “I’m sure it will be when I get there tomorrow, but obviously I’m very excited.
“Scoring a goal before the World Cup helps my confidence a lot, so I’m very happy to score one. It’s a quick deadline and then I have just a week to prepare for the first game, so I have to getting ready for that hot weather, I guess.
“I don’t really have time to think about it. We have a friendly game on Thursday I think, but I don’t know who we are playing against so don’t ask me!
“I’ll do my best to stop and smell the roses while I’m at it. Just take little moments and smile, thinking to yourself that you are here. You have reached the World Cup. But at the same time, it’s knowing that you have a job to do and getting back to reality as quickly as possible.
“It’s a great opportunity. Everyone wants to show off because all the clubs in the world are going to be watching. So it’s going to be pretty cool.
Sargent’s World Cup dream began with the heartwarming video of Berhalter breaking the good news to his striker.
“I couldn’t breathe all day”
— USMNT only (@usmntonly) November 10, 2022
Sargent confirmed the video was genuinely the moment he found out, after he got the call and headed to his bedroom to receive the news privately. After the call, he had a great time with his wife Kirsten and 11-month-old baby Romy waiting for him downstairs.
“I didn’t know how it was going to be,” Sargent said. Athleticism. “A few guys had already called me just to ask me if I had already received the call and did I know if I was going? And I was like, no! So I’m not going there I guess.
“I was just anxious all day and then he ended up calling me in the evening, and that’s why you can see I’m so happy; just because I had no idea how the call was going to go.
Equally poignant was beating Zach Steffen with his goal. The United States keeper from Middlesbrough has missed out on a place in the USMNT team.
Steffen produced a great second-half save to deny Sargent a brace which also got the pair talking.
“I haven’t seen him in a long time,” Sargent said. “I thought there was one and didn’t get a chance to say hello to him before the game so I thought it was a good time to say ‘nice save’ and then we had to catch us after the game as well.
“I really feel for him. I feel for all the guys who have been in qualifying and all the national team camps for so long – and then not going to the World Cup, which all the players want to go to. , it’s heartbreaking. I feel for him.
Steffen might have other opportunities. Sargent’s is imminent. He thinks facing England would probably be the biggest moment of his career so far. It certainly marked him when the draw was originally made.
“Half the people (around his club) say they’ll be happy if I score against England, and half don’t,” smiled Sargent. “It’s big enough. I know there is a history between us and it will be a very good game.
“We’ve got a very young group of guys who are very confident in us and we know who we’re up against, we’re not going to shy away from how we want to play. We’re going to bring a lot of energy.
And with that, Sargent disappeared down a hallway in Carrow Road. Next step, the World Cup.
(Photo: Getty Images)