FRISCO, Texas - FC Dallas Homegrown Ricardo Pepi scored a brace and was named Man of the Match in the U.S.'s 2-0 win over Jamaica in its fourth World Cup qualifying match Thursday night at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas.
“It’s a great feeling," Pepi told ESPN after the game. "There’s no better feeling than winning at home in front of the fans. So it’s great and feels amazing."
Pepi opened the scoring just after halftime with a clinical header from close range after latching on to Sergiño Dest's cross. The goal made Pepi the youngest player to score in consecutive World Cup qualifying matches for the USMNT in the modern era, according to the ESPN broadcast.
“We’re all excited. We’re just sitting there and we’re on the train," USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter said after the match. "We’re just observing everything that’s happening. 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…Really proud of him and really proud of the effort he had tonight.”
Twelve minutes later, Pepi doubled the lead with a one-touch finish from Brenden Aaronson's low cross. The 18-year-old El Paso native 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.
"I think we found their weaknesses on the outside of the field," Pepi said. "We went through the wings. I feel that’s where we found their weakness and we got through them on the wings. It was important, because through the middle was too compact.”
The win put the U.S. in first place in the in the octagonal qualifying table for the time being with eight points from four games. Pepi and the USMNT continue its campaign in Panama on Sunday at 5PM CT. The match will be broadcast on Paramount+.
"[The win] was important," Pepi said in closing. "We’ve still got two more games left, we want the nine points. So we’ve got to get to work.”