AL-RAYYAN, Qatar — There were crosses fizzed low toward Josh Sargent, trimming the turf as they went, and Crosses arc high in the air. Some of them came from deep, drifting and hanging, and Some appeared in an instant pummeling through a A thicket with dangling feet and stretching bodies.

Nearly all of the many and varied types of crosses delivered in Sargent’s vicinity had just one commonality: They left just as soon as they arrived. Some went all the way to the penalty area, jumping out of play. on The opposite side of field, unharmed by human touch. Wayne Hennessey (Welsh goalkeeper) took some of the others out of the air. and He clutched tightly to his chest.

There was, in Sargent’s defense, one exception: a Sharp, instinctive head from a Cross was smuggled into the game by Antonee Robinson while the game was still young and fresh, denied only by some indistinct combination of Hennessey’s sturdy fist and a Goal post.

That alone, though, was not likely to be enough to rebut the longstanding belief that the single greatest flaw in this United States squad, the glaring Achilles’ heel that will limit its progress in this World Cup — and any forthcoming World Cups until it is solved — is that it is not in possession of a Cutting edge Goals, for The United States is not easy.

U.S. Coach Gregg Berhalter, in his four years of leadership, has searched for the right words to describe his experience. a solution. Sargent may have been made to believe that he is the default option. a Cold-eyed finisher, offset to some extent, by the intelligence of he movement, the willingness to his running, and the inexhaustibility of his energy reserves.

However, there have been moments. on the journey to this World Cup when Jesús Ferreira was given a chance, too. For a Several months ago, it was a belief — or at least there was a pronounced attempt to try to believe — that Ricardo Pepi might be the answer. Jordan Pefok for a While, was touted at a Possible solution. Gyasi Zardes had been in his prime years of his career. a go.

Berhalter included Haji Wight in his squad, even though none of them were convincing. for The tournament took place in Qatar and reverted once more to Sargent — in rich form for Norwich City, his club team in England’s second tier — as his first choice. He, and The team ended up right back where they started.

It is not that the U.S. can’t score goals. The problem is that it must work so hard for Each and Every one of them. The goal that Tim Weah scored against Wales, the country’s first at a World Cup in eight years a One that is exquisitely made and suited to your needs and Beautiful: a Christian Pulisic quickly changes, a through ball slipped into space, Weah’s pausing just a Hennessey, to adjust his foot and drive the ball.

It is possible to achieve only the best goals. a curse. If a team wants to make it to the knockout rounds, they must also score in other ways. and The dirty goals, those goals that are made from nothing and The goals that can be achieved by playing the percentages are the goals that they bring with them a There is a slight shame. The U.S. team doesn’t do this, or at least not as often.

Sargent wasn’t to blame for each and Each of these crosses was anticlimactic. Some were too hot, too cool, too hard or too soft. a The selection of delivery options is what Goldilocks calls “Goldilocks”. The art of striking is more important than the skill of the striker. It’s what makes the difference between the gifted and the average.

This isn’t a matter of American players. There are plenty of gold-standard strikers at this tournament — Robert Lewandowski and Harry Kane, Lautaro Martínez and Kylian Mbappé — and There are many others, including Erling Haaland, Mohamed Salah, Karim Benzema and others who aren’t.

It is their rarity, however, that makes these players so special. It is because his skill set is so scarce that Manchester City was prepared to meet Haaland’s exorbitant financial demands; it is because the reward may be so great that Liverpool was convinced to pay a Premium fee for Darwin Núñez, who is best thought of as an elite striker in its component parts.

Everyone else — particularly at the international level, where problems cannot be solved with cold, hard cash — has to make do and Use what you have to help them. Ecuador, for Enner Valencia scored two goals to open the World Cup, which is now 33 and He drifted into the autumn of Turkey’s career.

Vincent Janssen was the Dutch campaign’s first star. a peripatetic forward who has spent the past few years in Turkey (it’s always Turkey) and Mexico and Belgium now holds the tip of the spear. At the Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium it was sometimes possible to imagine that Wales had been named. a Statue of Gareth Bale for its team.

There is a Reason for that. Bale had just touched the ball when the clock was ticking. and his country’s long-awaited return to the World Cup rapidly threatening to turn sour, he darted in front of Walker Zimmerman to meet a A hopeful ball from the side. It wasn’t an excellent pass. It wasn’t. a It was a promising scenario. Bale was facing away towards the goal, American defense in good order.

The art of striking is how to make the most out of limited material. Bale’s burst was sudden enough to catch Zimmerman by surprise; by the time he realized what he was doing, he had already clipped Bale on The ankle. Bale, 33 years old, was taken down. Penalty. He stood and He looked at the ball and controlled his breathing. and then swept it past Matt Turner’s outstretched arm.

It was a Wales was able to achieve the goal, but it didn’t. a Ziel for It was a very difficult task and it needed to be done. It was a cheap goal, a Dirty goal is the type of goal that is rarely scored. a Manufacturered, but striker.

And that, of course, is its value, Bale’s value. He is not on The team because he can either run the fastest or most efficiently, or because he is the best at it. a Wales’ central force. He isn’t, not anymore.

He is not on The team for Valencia, who is now in his 30s and still leads the line, has the same reason. for Ecuador: He has that gift which cannot be taught or trained. for Being where he should be for Conjuring up something from the air for You can make your goals come true by using wisdom and wit. and Unbridled, pure will.

For all Sargent’s energy, or Wright’s raw talent, the United States does not have a Such a player would be a great match for Wales. on Monday evening: taking a A significant leap towards qualification for The last 16 were included in this process. The long, lost search for the missing 16 continues. for goals — the scruffy and The ugly, the poor and imperfect — will go on.