A 2-0 win for the United States Men’s national soccer team over Jamaica in the Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers put them atop of the standings with 8 points on 4 matches played. Still a long ways to go, but the US, followed by Mexico and Canada are in the top-three through match day 4 of 14.
Ricardo Pepi scored both of the goals for the US.
“It’s a special feeling being able to just score here in Texas,” Pepi said. “Not just here in Texas, but in front of our fans. It’s an amazing feeling.”
The El Paso, Texas-born FC Dallas striker has scored 13 goals in 27 games in the MLS this season. He secured a brace against Jamaica Thursday night, taking his USMNT tally up to 3 in 2 games.
“For us, we’re just sitting there and we’re on the train,” US coach Gregg Berhalter said. “He’s an 18-year-old who gets an opportunity, takes advantage. What you see and I think what I really like is that he has this instinct, and it’s really hard to teach that to players.”
Pepi led a side that was recorded as the second-youngest US starting lineup in a World Cup qualifier.
Pepi found the back of the net for the first time in the 49th minute before making it 2-0 in the 62nd.
“I think he’s really grown into this striker that is just so deadly in the box,” Pepi’s teammate, Brenden Aaronson said. “He’s someone that’s always around. For a midfielder/winger, what I am, it’s a dream to play with a striker like him because you know he’s going to be in these spots.”
Pepi’s play had an extra spotlight on it given the side having to play without stars Giovanni Reyna and Christian Pulisic, both unavailable due to injury.
While Pepi stole the show, there was some buzz around the return of Weston McKennie. He returned to the lineup after being left off the lineup during the last window.
“It’s not easy, right? It’s not easy to come back and play these games,” Berhalter said. “He knew a lot of eyes are going to be on him and the way I would characterize his performance is professional. “To give a really professional job in this game, it wasn’t the top level that he can produce but it was up there, and I think he had an excellent performance.”
U.S. has two wins and two draws through four qualifiers. The team is back in action this weekend, Sunday 10 October, vs Panama.