It truly does not get better than this for Ricardo Pepi. Another game, another big performance on the international stage.
The FC Dallas Homegrown scored a brace and was once again named Man of the Match in the United States’ 2-0 win over Jamaica in its fourth World Cup qualifying match Thursday night at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas.
Just a kid from El Paso.pic.twitter.com/HSxhvN1B6X— FC Dallas (PEPI SCORIN’) (@FCDallas) October 8, 2021
Pepi opened the scoring just after halftime with a clinical header from close range after latching on to Sergino Dest’s cross. According to the ESPN broadcast, the goal made Pepi the youngest player to score in consecutive World Cup qualifying matches for the USMNT in the modern era.
But as we know now, he wasn’t done on the night.
Pepi doubled the lead with a one-touch finish from Brenden Aaronson’s cross. The 18-year-old now has three goals and two assists from his first two senior caps and is the second-youngest player to have a multi-goal game for the USMNT.
Following the game, USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter admitted that he and his staff are happy to be along for the ride with Pepi right now.
“We’re just sitting there, and we’re on the train, you know?” said Berhalter postgame. “We’re just observing everything that’s happening. It’s amazing, an 18-year-old gets an opportunity and takes advantage of it. What you see, and what I really like, is that he has this instinct, and it’s really hard to teach that to players. He has an instinct to score.
“We put up the minutes of the past week, and he’s a guy that was dragging. He played 90, 90, 90 [-minute matches for FC Dallas], now he comes in here and plays whatever he played. But we knew it was going to take a lot of mental courage for him to step up and really play with that relentlessness that we needed, and he did it.”
Idk y’all. Kinda misty out here. pic.twitter.com/NhfPDQ5bS1— U.S. Soccer MNT (@USMNT) October 8, 2021
The win put the USMNT in first place in the octagonal qualifying table for the time being with eight points from four games (thank you Canada for that draw in Mexico). Pepi and the USMNT continue their campaign in Panama on Sunday at 5 PM CT. The match will be broadcast on Paramount+.