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Johnny Cardoso Shines at Real Betis: Next Stop, USMNT?

Since joining Real Betis from Brazil in January, Johnny Cardoso has quickly become a key player in LaLiga. His impressive performances have caught the attention of fans and analysts alike, raising the question: Is he ready for a prominent role with the USMNT?

Rapid Adaptation and Impressive Stats

The common belief in soccer is that players need a “settling-in period” when they switch clubs, especially when moving to a new country with a different style of play. However, Cardoso’s first months at Real Betis have challenged this notion. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Cardoso ranks among the top six LaLiga defensive midfielders with over 500 minutes played in tackle percentage (52.3%), duel percentage (62.7%), and aerial percentage (66.0%). His 15.7 defensive interventions per 90 minutes is second in LaLiga, and he boasts an impressive 89.6% passing accuracy in the attacking third, third best among his peers.

Praise from Betis and Personal Reflections

Real Betis sporting director Manu Fajardo has praised Cardoso’s defensive balance and tactical discipline. “Choosing when to press the opponent, being able to play taking just a few touches without losing the ball,” Fajardo said. Cardoso himself expressed surprise at how quickly he has adapted to LaLiga. “I have to confess that I didn’t expect to adapt so quickly,” he told ESPN. “But the welcome and help from all the players and staff made me feel very comfortable, and made it easier for me to adapt.”

Impact on Real Betis

Cardoso’s contributions have been vital in helping Betis remain in contention for European competition. With three games left, Betis sits in sixth place, just ahead of Real Sociedad. The two teams face off on Sunday in a crucial match for Europa League qualification.

Historical and Cultural Significance

Real Betis, founded in 1907, is one of Spain’s historic clubs, with a passionate fan base and a large season ticket holder base. Former U.S. international Tab Ramos, who played for Betis in the mid-1990s, noted the intense support and high expectations surrounding the club. “You’re definitely defending a club that people care a lot about, and the result that you get every weekend has an effect on their lives,” Ramos said.

Development in Brazil

Cardoso’s background in Brazilian soccer, developed at two-time CONMEBOL Libertadores winners Internacional, prepared him for the intensity and technical demands of LaLiga. “Here the game is much more with the ball on your feet, much more technical,” he told ESPN Brazil. His ability to adapt quickly and his composure on the ball have been crucial to his success in Spain.

Future with the USMNT

Despite his success at Betis, Cardoso has yet to secure a regular spot with the USMNT, largely due to the established “MMA” midfield trio of Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, and Tyler Adams. However, Cardoso remains determined. “I always focus a lot on my development and, as I always say, that it only depends on me, on my performance at my club,” he said. “If I develop my soccer well here, I will have opportunities in the national team.”

Potential and Ambition

Fajardo believes Cardoso can play as a lone holding midfielder, a role often filled by Adams for the USMNT. As long as Cardoso continues to deliver steady performances for Betis, his chances at the international level will grow.

“I’ve always dreamt big, so I’ve always dedicated myself to my goals,” Cardoso said. “That’s what made me get this far and be keen to develop even further.”

As Johnny Cardoso continues to excel at Real Betis, his journey reflects a player ready to make a significant impact both in LaLiga and potentially with the USMNT. His rapid adaptation and impressive statistics suggest a bright future ahead.

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