United States men's national team hopeful Sebastian Soto is off to the Dutch second division, joining SC Telstar on loan from Norwich City of England. The move was officially announced on Wednesday. Soto joined Hannover in Germany in 2018 but playing time was limited. He then joined relegated Premier League club Norwich City this summer and is now hoping to find the consistent minutes needed to factor in with the Canaries down the road, potentially in the Premier League.
Soto's goal is to get on the radar of USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter, but the loan move is all about getting back to doing what he gets paid to do -- score goals.
"I am really, really excited to be joining Telstar. Really eager to get back onto the pitch and star scoring goals again," Soto told CBS Sports. "It was a choice to further my development ... The goal is to get me on the pitch as much as possible and score as many goals [as I can]. For that reason, I'm really stoked for this opportunity."
Soto is currently in the Netherlands but the move took a long time to finalize due to paperwork delays. He's joining a league full of USMNT hopefuls like Alex Mendez (Ajax reserve team) and Chris Gloster (PSV reserve team). Soto starred on the U.S. U-20 World Cup team last year, scoring four goals in the tournament. Only one player scored more -- Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland (who scored them all in one game).
At Telstar, he will be coached by Andries Jonker, who is the ex-head of academy at Arsenal, having worked with the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock, Reiss Nelson, Bukayo Saka and more.
Following a rough time in Germany after joining from the Real Salt Lake academy, it was time to turn the page and having a fresh start, with his development being the most important factor. There was interest from the Portuguese first division, but he decided to join Telstar to get more consistent minutes.
"Players develop at a different pace -- not everyone is [Christian] Pulisic, who sped through the youth academy at Dortmund, or [Weston] McKennie, who went directly from U-19 to first team football [at Schalke]," Soto's agent, Matthew Moore of Centre Circle Consulting, told CBS Sports. "Some journeys are different. And we need to make up for what was effectively a lost year these past 12 months at Hannover. They are a big club who were relegated and started the season very poorly. Soto was competing with four other experienced strikers for minutes.
"It was a struggle, especially as he refused four offers to extend his contract at Hannover. And on numerous occasions when he wanted to play in the Hannover II team, he was refused permission. So Soto needs a good 30-to-35-game season where he can move his development onto the next level. Telstar will allow him to get those games and learn from a very experienced coaching staff of Andries Jonker and Edgar Davids."
SC Telstar open their 2020-21 campaign against Volendam on Sunday. A timetable for his first appearance remains to be seen, but he's ready to go.
"The biggest factor was getting myself to a place, to a club and a league where I can play as much as possible. Of course, without putting so much pressure on myself, it is on the back of my mind that Norwich is going to be watching, and hopefully Gregg will be watching as well, but at the end of the day, I just want to focus on myself," Soto said.
Soto, having represented the U.S. at U-20 and U-23 levels, is believed to be keeping an open mind about his international future and is in the process of acquiring his Chilean passport. Soto recently spoke with Chilean national team coach Reinaldo Rueda.