A hush fell over Carrow Road on 79 minutes when Josh Sargent fell to the floor and hit the turf.
On Wednesday, the 22-year-old Norwich forward was told by USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter that he was going to the World Cup, and for a moment he feared his dream would be cut short.
The challenge kicked Sargent in the left ankle and cut the side of his right knee in Norwich’s 2-1 injury time defeat at Middlesbrough on Saturday. He was immediately replaced.
But when the final whistle blew, there was no doubt it would haunt his diary for the next few weeks.
“It’s going to be OK. It (the World Cup) was in the back of my mind, but I think at the time I knew it wasn’t too bad or I wasn’t going,” Sargent said.
“It definitely hurt a lot. I don’t know what happened. It came on the ankle and it was a concern at first, then when I got up I felt more of a cut. But I’ll be fine.
“I think if you think about it too much (injury) and try to play a different way, it can get hurt, so I just tried to go out there and play like I normally do.”
Despite the initial apprehension, Sargent may feel that his intention to travel to Qatar is on the cards on Sunday before joining the USMNT ahead of their Group B opener against Wales on November 21.
Then, four days later, they will face England and then play against Iran.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” Sargent said. “I’m sure it will be like that when we get there tomorrow, but I’m very excited.
“Scoring in front of the World Cup helps my confidence a lot, so I’m very happy to have scored. It’s a quick turnaround, and then I only have a week to prepare for the first game, so I think I have to prepare for that hot weather.
“I don’t have much time to think about it. I believe we have a friendly on Thursday but don’t know who we’re playing so don’t ask me!
“I’ll do my best to stop and smell the roses while I’m there. Laughing at the thought of myself being here and passing the moment. You have won the world championship. However, it’s about getting back to reality as quickly as possible, knowing that you have work to do.
“This is a great opportunity. Every club in the world will be watching, so everyone wants to show off. So that’s going to be pretty cool.”
Sargent’s World Cup dream began with an emotional video of Berhalter telling his striker the good news.
“I can’t breathe all day”
— USMNT Only (@usmntly) November 10, 2022
Confirming that this was the moment Sargent actually learned of the video, he took the call and went to his bedroom to secretly receive the news. After the call, he and his wife, Kirsten, and 11-month-old baby, Romy, were waiting downstairs for some sweet moments.
“I didn’t know how to go,” Sargent said Athletic. “A couple of guys have called me, have I received a call yet, do I know if I’m going? And I wasn’t! So I don’t think I’ll go.
“I was worried all day, and then he called me at night, that’s why you see me so happy; Because I didn’t know how the call would go.”
Equally exciting was Zach Steffen’s win with a goal. Middlesbrough’s USA goalkeeper is no longer available for the USMNT squad.
Steffen made some great saves in the second half to keep Sargent out of the box, giving the pair a chance to talk.
“I haven’t seen him in a long time,” Sargent said. “I thought one was coming in and I didn’t get a chance to say hello to him before the game, so I thought it was a good time to say ‘well done’ and then we had to catch up after the game. Besides that.
“I really feel for him. I feel for all the guys who have been training with the national team for a long time and playing with the national team – and then not going to the World Cup, which every player wants to go to, it’s heartbreaking. I feel for him.”
Steffen may get another chance. Sargent approaches. He thinks facing England will be the biggest moment of his career. It was definitely special to him when the lottery was first run.
“Half the people (around his club) are saying I’d be happy to score against England, half of them aren’t,” smiled Sargent. “It’s quite big. There’s a history between us and I know it’s going to be a great match.
“We’ve got some very confident young guys, they know who they’re going up against and we’re not shy about how we want to play. We’re going to bring a lot of energy.”
And so the Sargent disappeared down the corridors of Carrow. Next stop, the World Cup.
(Photo: Getty Images)