The same week he was snubbed from the 26-man USMNT friendlies roster, Jordan Pefok scored yet another Bundesliga goal.
The US international now has FC Union Berlin’s second-most goals and assists, helping his team to the peak of Germany’s top flight.
Pefok is going so hard in the Bundesliga that league legend Bjarne Goldbaek is comparing the American to Robert Lewandowski.
“I was actually thinking why is Jordan not playing for Bayern, for Lewandowski. He could play that role right now.”
But despite his All-Star level individual stats and Bayern-esque form, USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter isn’t bringing Pefok to the US friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia later this month.
When asked about Pefok directly, Berhalter places Pefok’s absence on the young shoulders of another USMNT star – Ricardo Pepi.
“We know what Jordan can do, he’s been great in the Bundesliga, and we just went with someone else in this camp… We didn’t want to just give up on Pepi.”
It’s hard to fault Berhalter for believing in Pepi, especially after the week the Texas native is having in Eredivisie with FC Groningen. After coming on as a sub and finding the game-winning assist last week, Pepi scored a goal in his first start this past weekend.
With Pepi’s individual stats rising, the striker question for USMNT fans is becoming more polarizing – Pepi or Pefok?
Pepi loyalists will point out that Pefok is recovering from an injury, though he looked fully recovered against Wolfsburg on Saturday. Team Pefok will point out that Pepi couldn’t cut it in the Bundesliga, the same league Pefok is thriving in.
A problem like Pefok v. Pepi is a fantastic problem for the Stars and Stripes to have. We have two great strikers, both in form, playing at high levels across Europe. The solution seems clear – it’s not Pepi or Pefok, it’s Pepi and Pefok.
Four strikers is a lot, but Sargent and Ferreira deserve their spots. Drop Jordan Morris from the roster – the MLS winger is solid but unprepared for European-level competition. Between Pefok, Pepi, Sargent, and Ferreira, Berhalter should be able to find a goal-scorer for every single World Cup match.
Of course, Berhalter also says Pefok doesn’t fit his ‘system.’ (Which system is that, exactly? Having some of the best talent in the world and perenially underperforming?) But when you have a star playing like Lewandowski in Germany, and you’re thinking about not bringing him to Qatar – it’s either time to change your system or your coach.
Pepi vs. Pefok – where do you stand? Sound off below!
Featured Image: Pexels/Moose Photos/USSoccerFederation/FCUnionBerlinDM
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