The USMNT has finally found their striker for the next decade or so as Ricardo Pepi scored twice in the United States 2-0 win over Jamaica.
A little over a month ago, the environment was doom-and-gloom following a 1-1 draw at home versus Canada. They went to Honduras in a seemingly must win game and won 4-1. Still, doubts lingered.
But those doubts have seemingly been erased after making short work of the “Reggae Boyz” with Pepi cementing himself as the next big thing in American soccer.
The USMNT now find themselves at the top of the leaderboard
While it took until the second half to open the score, the USMNT had Jamaica pinned in their own half. The goal was coming and it came just four minutes after the first half break.
Following a quick transition, the ball came to Sergiño Dest who made his way into the penalty area before sending in a cross, which Pepi headed in for the opener.
"“It’s a special feeling being able to just score here in Texas,” said Pepi, an El Paso native who committed to the U.S. over Mexico in August. “Not just here in Texas, but in front of our fans. It’s an amazing feeling.”Source: ESPN"
According to ESPN, Pepi became the youngest USMNT player in history to score in back-to-back games.
But he wasn’t done.
The U.S. caught Jamaica completely disorganized in defense. A pass from Antonee Robinson reached Brenden Aaronson who slipped the ball to an unmarked Pepi who had an easy finish to complete his brace.
It was no less than he, or his team, deserved in a game where the Americans were hardly troubled by the visitors. Gregg Berhalter’s team picked up three points to put them at the top of the table, ahead of Mexico by goal differential.
After the game, Berhalter was not short on superlatives for his 18-year-old striker.
"“We’re all excited,” Berhalter said of Pepi’s emergence. “We’re sitting there and we’re on the train, observing everything that’s happening. An 18-year-old sees an opportunity and takes advantage of it. He has an instinct to score.”Source: Yahoo Sports"
Not only did the U.S. win rather comfortable, they were able to do so with some key absences like Gio Reyna and Christian Pulisic.
It was an impressive win where things came together for Berhalter. His midfield selection came through as did his substitutions. It was an all-around night for a manager who has had his share of criticism.
There is little time for rest, however, as the USMNT is back in action in a couple of days when they travel to take on Panama.