Ricardo Pepi celebrates after scoring a goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifiers match on Oct 7, 2021 in Austin, Texas.
There will come a game when Ricardo Pepi does not score a goal. Maybe.
The 18-year-old phenom scored both goals for the U.S. men Thursday night in Austin, Texas, to lead a 2-0 win over Jamaica, temporarily sending the Americans to the top of the table in World Cup qualifying. Pepi now has three goals and two assists in his first two games in a U.S. shirt. He became the youngest player to score in consecutive World Cup qualifiers for Team USA.
After a scoreless first half that had the U.S. men frustrated to not convert on their chances, Pepi provided just the spark they needed when he got his head to a Sergiño Dest cross, lashing it past the Jamaica keeper in the 49th minute. The U.S. continued to maraud forward with dangerous runs from Antonee Robinson and Brenden Aaronson.
Less than 15 minutes later, Pepi again got himself in the middle of the 18-yard box as a cross came in from Aaronson. One-on-one with the keeper, Pepi touched it past to give the U.S. some breathing space. His job done and with a road qualifier in Panama City coming up on Sunday, U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter subbed him off minutes later. The match was a bit of a homecoming for the El Paso native, who plays his club soccer for FC Dallas.
U.S. keeper Matt Turner, who has played every minute of World Cup qualifying so far, made one save to record the clean sheet.
Following the match away to Panama, the U.S. will conclude this qualifying window with a match in Columbus with Costa Rica on Oct. 13. The U.S. men are now unbeaten in their last 14 matches, with 12 of those being victories.