Ricardo Pepi might have been reduced to a substitute role in Monday’s Concacaf Nations League finale against El Salvador, but it didn’t stop the in-form striker from having a say in the final scoreline.
Pepi scored the winning goal for Anthony Hudson’s squad in a 1-0 home triumph over El Salvador, helping the Americans clinch top spot in Group D of League A. Pepi’s third goal of the March window helped him earn SBI Man of the Match honors after leading the USMNT to a spot in the CNL semifinals this summer.
The FC Groningen striker came off the bench in the 60th minute and made an instant impact just one minute later. Weston McKennie’s through ball pass helped Pepi sneak behind the El Salvador backline before he chipped Mario Gonzalez for a breakthrough goal.
Pepi came close to doubling his tally later in the half with the Americans seeking an insurance goal, but Gonzalez stretched himself to repel the close-range volley. The 20-year-old was lively off the bench, becoming a consistent problem for La Selecta’s defenders in the box.
The USMNT would hang on for a 1-0 victory, its second-consecutive victory of 2023.
Pepi edged out Weston McKennie, Miles Robinson, and Gio Reyna for Man of the Match honors.
What did you think of Pepi’s performance? Do you expect him to be the USMNT’s long-term strike option heading into the summer?
Share your thoughts below.
This time, I agree with your choice. In a game where all were equally bad, the one comes in and scores immediately deserves the MOTM award.
He had one good opportunity and took advantage of it. However, it was McKennie’s great pass that made it possible and Mckennie generally had a good game and the extent of his work during the game made him MOTM more than Pepi IMO.
Absolutely lots of merit to what you are saying, McKennie was one of the few that showed up both halves. Another way to look at it is to consider that value is often measured in terms of a commodity’s availability vs scarcity. Unfortunately our team is and has been starved for someone who makes the most of opportunities- clinical finishers… g o a l s. Pepi made an instant- noticeable impact- was dangerous, did a very good job of connecting with others, but most of all- he put the ball in the &^%$ goal. That was a very composed, skilled, goalscorer’s finish. We’d all be feeling considerably different without it.
it was a great pass, but Pepi made the smart run and caught McKennie’s eye when he looked up. Pepi initiated and McKennie played the ball into the space where Pepi was heading. Great execution by McKennie but the ‘idea’ was Pepi’s.
I agree, Pepi’s run was crucial in making that goal. Fortunately McKennie put the ball where and when Pepi needed it. Prior to that McKennie made several poor passes that missed the clearly intended targets. He needs to improve his passing accuracy. The counter argument for MOTM is that in the first half only McKennie seemed to be popping up in good spots and challenging El Salvador. In this case I think you gotta give MOTM to Peoi.