Two Goals From Forward Ricardo Pepi Propel U.S. Men’s National Team to 2-0 Shutout vs. Jamaica in First October World Cup QualifierPepi Becomes Youngest Player to Score in Back-to-Back Qualifiers; USMNT Returns to Action on Sunday, Oct. 10 at Panama (6 p.m. ET: Paramount+, Universo)
AUSTIN, Texas (Oct. 7, 2021) -- Eighteen-year-old forward Ricardo Pepi scored twice to spark the U.S. Men’s National Team to a 2-0 shutout win against Jamaica in front of a sellout crowd of 20,500 at Q2 Stadium in the first of three World Cup qualifiers in seven days during the October international window.
Playing in his home state, the red-hot teenager capped off two nice full-field attacking runs with well-finished goals from close range, heading home a perfectly chipped cross from defender Sergino Dest early in the second half and then sliding to knock home a service from forward Brenden Aaronson in the 62nd minute. The assists came from the right and left wings, respectively.
With his goals tonight – the second and third of his USWNT career in just two caps – and after a goal in his stellar performance during the USA’s 4-1 comeback victory in Honduras last month, Pepi became the youngest player to score in back-to-back World Cup qualifying matches. At 18 years, 272 days, he’s also the second youngest to score multiple goals in a game behind only Christian Pulisic.
The USA entered the match tied for second place in the Octagonal standings and earned another important three points during its first World Cup qualifier played in Texas. The USMNT returns to action Sunday, Oct. 10 at Panama (6 p.m. ET; Paramount+, Universo) and closes the trio of matches on Wednesday, Oct. 13 vs. Costa Rica in Columbus, Ohio (ESPN2, ESPN+, UniMas, TUDN).
With an average age of 23 years, 111 days, the USMNT starting lineup was the second youngest ever in a World Cup qualifier, only behind last month’s starting XI at Honduras in that 4-1 victory. Five players made their qualifying debut this evening, bringing the total to 21 debutants through the first four matches of the Octagonal.
The youthful lineup was tasked with breaking down a Jamaica side that came out in a low defensive block, but the American dominated from start to finish in every aspect of the match, most notably possession, chances created and effort.
Things started off with a bit of controversy as a hard foul in just the first minute by Jamaica defender Kemar Lawrence on forward Paul Arriola, who was breaking in on goal, prompted a yellow card that had some calling for a red for denial of a clear goal scoring opportunity. Arriola and fellow winger Brenden Aaronson caused problems for Jamaica, sparking much of the U.S. offense from the flanks. Arriola was relentless on the press, earning one of the USA’s most dangerous early looks when he rushed at Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake in the 15th minute.
The USA also had a number of set play opportunities from dangerous spots during the first half but struggled to put shots on goal. A Jamaica foul thwarted another promising attacking run in the 33rd when Arriola pounced on a Jamaica turnover and played to Aaronson, but he was taken down by defender Damion Lowe just outside the 18-yard-box, drawing another yellow card.
As the half wound down, Jamaica forced U.S. goalkeeper Matt Turner into his first major action of the night with the in-form ‘keeper diving to his right to make a save on an attempt from Lowe. Turner recorded his eighth shutout in 11 appearances with the USMNT while making three saves.
After a dearth of shots in the first half, the U.S. came out firing right after the break, piling up 14 after creating just three in the opening 45 minutes, and with two goals in the first 17 minutes after the restart, put the game away.
The U.S. continued to threaten down the stretch and forward Gyasi Zardes, who came on for Pepi in the 68th minute, had a number of solid chances which could have resulted in a final score line perhaps more in line with the overall dominance of the performance.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN
USA - Ricardo Pepi (Sergino Dest), 49th minute: A lovely full-field attacking sequence started from the hands of goalkeeper Matt Turner, who rolled the ball to Dest on the right wing. He centered it for midfielder Yunus Musah, who drove forward into the Jamaican final third before playing it back to Dest on the right wing. The right back then chipped in a pin-point cross for Pepi and he directed his header from seven yards out into the lower left side of the net past goalkeeper Andre Blake for his second career international goal. USA 1, JAM 0
USA - Ricardo Pepi (Brenden Aaronson), 62nd minute: Another offensive opportunity started from the back line as central defender Walker Zimmerman played forward to midfielder Yunus Musah, who got the ball across to the left side to midfielder Tyler Adams, who found outside back Antonee Robinson on the left wing. Robinson found Aaronson on the run further up the flank and he sent a cross on the ground past a sliding Jamaica defender to an onrushing Pepi, who got a solid touch with his right foot to power the ball past the diving goalkeeper Andre Blake for his second of the night and third career USMNT goal. USA 2, JAM 0
The USMNT improves to 19-3-8 all-time against Jamaica and 6-1-6 in World Cup Qualifying. The USA is 5-0-2 against the Reggae Boyz in home World Cup qualifiers.
With tonight’s win, the USMNT’s unbeaten streak reached 13 games (11-0-2).
The USMNT has won each of its last four meetings with Jamaica, three of which have come in 2021. The USA earned a 4-1 win against The Reggae Boyz in a friendly on March 25 in Wiener Neustadt, Austria before taking a 1-0 victory in the Gold Cup quarterfinals on July 25 in Arlington, Texas.
Defender Sergino Dest recorded his second career USMNT assist and first since the Concacaf Nations League group stage vs. Canada in Nov. 2019.
Forward Brenden Aaronson continued the hot start to his international career and earned his fourth career assist. Aaronson now has scored five goals with four assists in just 11 caps.
Midfielder Kellyn Acosta appeared in his 18th straight USMNT match dating back to Dec. 2019. He’s the only player to appear in all 17 matches for the USA this year.
Defenders Shaq Moore and Walker Zimmerman, midfielders Yunus Musah and Luca De La Torre as well as forward Tim Weah made their World Cup Qualifying debuts, taking the team’s total number of qualifying debuts in this cycle to 21 through four matches. That figure eclipses the total number of first qualifying caps earned throughout the 16 matches of the last cycle.
Midfielder Yunus Musah and forward Ricardo Pepi were the first pair of 18-year-olds to start a World Cup Qualifier in USMNT history.
Tyler Adams captained the USMNT for the third time and second time in World Cup qualifying after the 0-0 draw with El Salvador to open World Cup qualifying on Sept. 2.
Defender Miles Robinson and goalkeeper Matt Turner are the only three players to play every minute of World Cup Qualifying thus far.
Both Robinson and Turner started their 10th consecutive matches for the U.S., with their streak dating back to the Gold Cup opener against Haiti on July 11 in Kansas City. The USMNT has gone 8-0-2 and conceded just three goals in that time.
Goalkeeper Sean Johnson, defender DeAndre Yedlin and midfielder Gianluca Busio were the three rostered players that did not dress.
Tonight’s match was played on the 20th anniversary of the USA’s 2-1 win against Jamaica in 2001. The first match by any National Team following the September 11 attacks, that victory combined with other results that night, saw the USMNT qualify for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
-U.S. Men’s National Team Match Report-
Match: United States Men’s National Team vs. Jamaica
Date: October 7, 2021
Competition: Concacaf 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying
Venue: Q2 Stadium, Austin, Texas
Attendance: 20,500 (Sellout)
Kickoff: 7:45 p.m. ET / 6:45 p.m. local
Weather: 85 degrees, sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 2 2
JAM 0 0 0
USA -- Ricardo Pepi (Sergiño Dest) 49th minute
USA -- Ricardo Pepi (Brenden Aaronson) 62
USA: 1-Matt Turner; 2-Sergiño Dest (22-Shaq Moore, 78), 3-Walker Zimmerman, 12-Miles Robinson, 5-Antonee Robinson; 4-Tyler Adams (Capt.) (23-Kellyn Acosta, 83), 6-Yunus Musah (14-Luca de la Torre, 78), 8-Weston McKennie; 7-Paul Arriola, 16-Ricardo Pepi (9-Gyasi Zardes, 68), 11-Brenden Aaronson (20-Tim Weah, 68)
Substitutes not used: 13- Zack Steffen, 21-George Bello, 18-Mark McKenzie, 15-Chris Richards, 17-Sebastian Lletget, 10-Cristian Roldan, 19-Matthew Hoppe
Head coach: Gregg Berhalter
JAM: 1-Andre Blake (Capt.); 5-Alvas Powell (3-Javain Brown, 84), 19-Adrian Mariappa, 17-Damion Lowe, 20-Kemar Lawrence; 22-Devon Williams, 15-Je-Vaughn Watson, 9-Jamal Lowe (12-Junior Flemmings, 61), 21-Tyreek Magee (7-Kemar Roofe, 61), 10-Bobby Reid (14-Javon East, 71); 11-Shamar Nicholson
Substitutes not used: 23-Jeadine White, 13-Dillon Barnes, 2-Jamoi Topey, 8-Oniel Fisher, 18-Andre Gray
Head coach: Theodore Whitmore
Stats Summary: USA / JAM
Shots: 17 / 5
Shots on Goal: 7 / 1
Saves: 1 / 5
Corner Kicks: 8 / 2
Fouls: 12 / 8
Offside: 1 / 0
JAM -- Kemar Lawrence (Caution) 1st minute
JAM -- Damion Lowe (Caution) 34
Referee: Reon Radix (Grenada)
Assistant Referee 1: Keytzel Corrales (Nicaragua)
Assistant Referee 2: Iroots Appleton (Antigua and Barbuda)
4th Official: Tristley Bassue (Saint Kitts and Nevis)
Man of the Match: Ricardo Pepi