Teenage forward sensation Ricardo Pepi scored the game-winning goal on his debut because the U.S. men’s national team got its first World Cup qualifying win 4-1 on the road in Honduras. The victory injects renewed hope within the USA’s bid to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after two straight draws to open qualifying.
The 18-year-old Pepi, who plays for FC Dallas in MLS, was given his first start for the senior U.S. side during a tough World Cup qualifying environment in San Pedro Sula, and he came through within the last half by playing a neighborhood altogether four U.S. goals because the Americans overturned a 1-0 halftime deficit. Pepi challenged for the ball that spilled bent Antonee Robinson for the 1-1 equalizer, he headed home the go-ahead goal, he served up Brenden Aaronson for the 3-1 lead, and his shot forced a save which spilled to Sebastian Lletget for the ultimate strike.
The USMNT now has five points from a possible nine in its opening three matches and therefore the qualifying scene completely changes after a grim outlook that followed the draws against El Salvador (0-0) and Canada (1-1). The Americans find themselves in third place within the standings and it is the top three finishers in March 2022 who will earn an immediate berth to the planet Cup in Qatar. The USA had to face the match against Honduras without many of its biggest stars: Gio Reyna (hamstring), Sergio Dest (ankle), Weston McKennie (team violation), Zack Steffen (COVID-19), and a number of other players who weren’t called up thanks to injury. Captain and star Christian Pulisic was also forced to go away from the match thanks to injury with the score at 1-1.
U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter fielded a 3-4-3 formation to start out the match with Tyler Adams playing at right wingback. But after a promising start, the team began to seem disjointed and disconnected, especially after the Honduras opening goal within the 27th minute. Berhalter changed things up at halftime with three subs and a formation switch to the customary 4-3-3 with Adams eventually moving back to a central midfield role. The tactical and personnel changes made an impression and brought the simplest out of Pepi, who didn’t appear as if a player making his first-team debut.
The Americans have 11 more qualifying matches to travel and therefore the next three are on tap in October (vs. Jamaica, at Panama, and vs. Costa Rica). There are a complete of eight teams involved in CONCACAF regional qualifying, and everyone plays a complete of 14 matches. the highest three teams within the CONCACAF octagonal advance to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The fourth-place team will play in an intercontinental playoff with a ticket to Qatar on the road.