Ricardo Pepi snubbed from the United States men’s national team for the World Cup in Qatar. While it’s not as shocking as Landon Donovan not being picked by Jurgen Klinsmann for the 2014 for the World Cup, it’s still a surprise.
After all, the United States wouldn’t have qualified if not for Pepi’s goal scoring run. Pepi scored the winning goal and had two assists in his first international game for the United States team versus Honduras. A must win game for the United States at that time.
With the USMNT on the attack, DeAndre Yedlin received the ball beyond the top right corner of the box just two minutes after entering the match and sent a service into the box. Ricardo Pepi rose above a crowd 10 yards out from goal to head the game-winning goal just inside the right post.
And Gregg Berhalter might have been fired early on if not for Pepi’s goal scoring run.
Pepi knocked home two goals in the second half of a World Cup qualifier to beat Jamaica. At just 18 years old Pepi was becoming a savior for the team. A goal scoring train the team was aboard. On Pepi’s back the team jumped. And then Ricardo Pepi snubbed from the World Cup team.
“We’re on the train. We’re just observing everything that’s happening,” Berhalter said. “It’s amazing. An 18-year-old gets an opportunity and takes advantage.”
The pinned Tweet on Ricardo Pepi’s Twitter account is a retweet from the United States national team’s account that says, “ El Tren can’t be slowed!’. Which is a video of Pepi scoring a goal for his Dutch club FC Groningen. Pepi has scored five goals and has two assists in his last eight playing on loan in Holland’s top division. A good run of goal scoring form.
There just seems a karma type element in not selecting Pepi. A risk to the teams good graces in the tournament.
Everything will be forgiven of course if the forwards Berhalter has selected score goals.
But the “snubbing” of Ricardo Pepi will be talked about if the goals don’t come.
The pressure is now on Jesús Ferreira to score goals. Some pressure on Jordan Morris too, but he’ll most likely be used as a winger late games. Pressure on Josh Sargent. And even more pressure to score on the selection of Haji Wright, who seems to be the one choice that made Pepi not a part of the team.
Wright of course grew up in the national team system playing with Pulisic and others. So maybe there was some push by the players to have Wright on the team instead of Pepi. Wright is in good form playing in Turkey, so you can see why Berhalter selected him. Again though, Pepi is the forward who got you to the tournament!
The description for Pepi on the USSoccer website calls him, “An opportunistic striker”, but just not for the World Cup team. Hopefully, for Ricardo Pepi, being snubbed will only act as more motivation to make the team when the World Cup takes place in the United States in 2026.