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SBI USMNT Man of the Match: Ricardo Pepi

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Ricardo Pepi set a high bar after his outstanding U.S. men’s national team debut in September, but he managed to surpass it on Thursday night.

The FC Dallas striker followed up his goal-scoring debut against Honduras with a two-goal showing in Thursday’s 2-0 win vs. Jamaica, earning Pepi SBI Man of the Match honors for the second straight match.

Pepi is the youngest player to score in consecutive World Cup Qualifying matches in the modern era. His two goals brings the USMNT to the top of the table in Concacaf with eight points.

Sergino Dest found plenty of space on the right flank in the 49th minute and sent the ball across the face of goal, where Pepi headed it in to open scoring.

Pepi added his second goal in the 62nd minute, drifting wide open in front of goal and tapping home a cross from Brenden Aaronson.

Pepi was the easy pick for Man of the Match honors, with Yunus Musah, Sergiño Dest, Paul Arriola and Tyler Adams also delivering solid showings for the USMNT.

Pepi, was replaced in the 68th minute, in a move that could save him enough to have him start for Sunday’s qualifier against Panama in Panama City.


What did you think of Pepi’s performance? Who else impressed you on Thursday night?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. The US finally has some depth. Use it! Games in the heat and the travel to/from Panama will take more out of players, especially those from Europe who are already playing from about midnight to 2AM in the time zone they just left.

    Of course the details matter, but I would be tempted to start a fairly different starting crew, retaining only central backs, and keeper who did not have to work that hard vs Panama and Adams and McKennie who are basically the best two mids. That means that the players who I think really exerted themselves Aaronson, Musah, Dest, A. Robinson and Ariola would not start but some could be early subs ~60 minutes. Depending on how it goes, Adams and/or McKennie could be subbed fairly early to save their legs for Costa Rica. While players will almost never admit they are tired, if the coaches are observant, they can tell who is and adjust accordingly. No one should be put in the game if they are likely to have to chose between playing passively and making a run or make a challenge that he knows will leave him too tired to recover quickly.

    George Patton said “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” While conditioning can help mitigate that, no one can sprint for 90 minutes in the heat; players learn early in their careers to conserve energy to avoid losing concentration during a game, still we have all seen games where as defenders tire late in the game they have lapses that makes for late goals. I especially worry about Dest, A. Robinson, Adams, Aaronson and Musah who seemed to do a lot of running vs Jamaica having some bad moments if they get too many minutes vs Panama

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    • me too. he changed the game, took over for a while, and can handle the physicality too. the guy is a physical specimen to go with his high skill. the entire midfield was excellent last night

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    • The way Jamaica played him helped. They worried more about his passing and gave him space in order to be sure to cover the front 3. Musah drove forward into space until a player was forced to close on him which then removed a defender from other attackers and often left space on the wing for our backs to run into and then deliver a cross. Other teams may press him high and we’ll see if the team can handle that. While the US is much better at handling the high press than we used to be, it still is a challenge if done by a good team.

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  2. My runner up would be Antony Robinson. He dominated his side of the pitch with the offense seemingly going exclusively through him at times. Despite being in the offensive half most the game he was still solid on defense. Very solid game.

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  3. Don’t see how it could be anyone else. The question is do you start him in Panama and take him out early or bring him on as a second half sub? You definitely want him for CR, so I think I’d bring him in about the 60th minute in Panama. Then I think I’d start Weah and Hoppe up front with Zardes. Try to get Zardes to wear down the defense and then bring on Pepi. For midfield maybe Busio, Acosta, and Lletget and then bring on Adams and Musah around the 70th minute.

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    • Gary,

      You gotta play your best player. Right now it is Pepi. So play the man and go get some goals. The US could have had 3 or 4 goals if it wasn’t for piss poor finishing by Zardes, who is just so obviously a step down.

      If you play Zardes, you signal to the entire team that you just want a Draw in Panama. Hell, play Hoppe if you want to give Pepi a rest. But look, FC Dallas is not playing the amount of football that, say, Pulisic and Reyna and Adams are for their teams. and he is 18. Play him all three games. He has the legs.

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      • I think that’s what he was saying…play Hoppe as a CF, with Weah and Zardes on the wings.

        There are worse ideas. I might strongly consider that as well.

    • The way he said bring on Pepi makes me think he thinks Zardes would be a striker… If he is on the wing, I would just run Aaronson, Weah, or Arriola out there again… not Zardes. But I guess if one of them is truly gassed? IDK, this is why GGG26 shoulda brung 30.

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    • My suggestion here is Zardes as striker, but I have pointed out repeatedly I think he is best as a winger. However, Berhalter sees him as a striker, so that’s where I put him. I would certainly be okay playing Hoppe at striker and Zardes at the wing, but I doubt Berhalter would ever do that. The whole point for me is to keep players fresh and that means not playing anyone 270 minutes within this window. If we can do that we can dominate CR in the second half and be sure and win. That, to me, is more important than winning in Panama. If we get 7 points out of 9 that is good enough.

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      • Pepi is 18 and in mid-season form. You are telling me he can’t run for -now- 240 minutes? People overstate this whole rest and rotation thing. I would play Mckinnie 270 minutes too – he is barely playing at Juve. Adams and Dest and Arob I would rest some – they have had a gruelling couple of months at clubs.

        and look, I say that as the guy who can’t run that hard for 10 minutes, ok, maybe 5 minutes, much less 270, so I don’t mean to come off glib about how gruelling soccer is. But they are in-form teenagers playing professionally. They have to have the legs. That being said, don’t they all wear the bra? GGG26 knows exactly how much gas they have in the tank.

    • No to Zardes. He missed a sitter a perfectly driven cross from Weah. If Pepi was in there, he would have anticipated it and buried it.

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    • Pepi has earned the spot- has the young legs to start all 3 games. Keep him fresh by subbing in Hoppe who brings a lot to the table as well. Especially w/ an away game in Panama- the chances come few- we can’t afford to waste them. Last night was a graphic illustration of a clinical striker vs…. an effort guy.

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      • It was 89 at game time in Austin. It will be both hot and humid in Panama. Even young and fit players lose a little something fi they are going full out 3 times in a week. Why take chances if you don’t need to? I have seen other young players do this because their managers think they can handle that. Before long those same players get injured.

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