The FC Dallas star is behind only Christian Pulisic as the youngster will earn his first cap in a massive match
Ricardo Pepi has become the second-youngest player to start a World Cup qualifier for the U.S. men’s national team as the FC Dallas star joins the lineup for Wednesday’s vital clash with Honduras.
Pepi, who spoke to Goal earlier this summer about his recent rise and future ambitions, has emerged as one of MLS’ most deadly strikers and will now be charged with helping the U.S. build on just a two-point haul from two games.
With the start, Pepi makes his first USMNT appearance at just 18 years, 242 days, making him the second-youngest American to play in World Cup qualifying behind only Christian Pulisic (17 years, 193 days in a March 2016 match against Guatemala).
The USMNT lineup
Facing what is essentially a must-win clash so early in the cycle, USMNT boss Gregg Berhalter has sent out an unpredictable lineup with several major changes.
Pepi, George Bello, James Sands and Mark McKenzie will all play in a World Cup qualifier for the first time, with Sands likely playing in the central midfield after playing as a centerback through the Gold Cup.
McKenzie and Bello will be joined in defense by either John Brooks, MIles Robinson and either Kellyn Acosta or Tyler Adams at right-wingback while Pepi will play up top with Josh Sargent and Christian Pulisic.
The USMNT are without several key players, having lost Gio Reyna and Sergino Dest to injury and Zack Steffen to a positive coronavirus test as well as Weston McKennie, who was sent back to Italy after violating Covid protocol.