The USMNT striker debate between Ricardo Pepi and Jordan Pefok is heating up as the Stars and Stripes train in Germany.
Head coach Gregg Berhalter invited Pepi to the US friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia this month over Pefok, despite the latter leading FC Union Berlin to the top of the Bundesliga table.
As the praise piles on for Pefok, many fans wonder why GGG wouldn’t want to employ such a talented striker during a World Cup year.
Berhalter has gone on record saying he wants to give Pepi his shot, despite the Texas teenager’s struggles in Europe.
After Pepi’s $20 million move from FC Dallas to FC Augsburg in January, Pepi’s form fell against the higher Bundesliga competition. Pepi’s regression led him to an Eredivisie loan before his first year in Germany was complete, generally not a good sign. Fighting through the adversity, Pepi is clawing back to the top, notching an assist and goal in his first two games with FC Groningen.
Both Pefok and Pepi are in goal-scoring form at the moment, which should be a boon to USMNT fans instead of a bane. Nevertheless, Gregg Berhalter has turned this plethora of talent into a problem, choosing too many MLS players instead of putting one of the Bundesliga’s best on.
Why would Berhalter need anyone besides Pefok, Pepi, and Sargent as strikers?
Sure, you can argue Haji Wright is in form or that Jesus Ferreira is over-performing in the MLS and deserves his shot. But Sargent and Pefok should be givens – Pefok has three goals and two assists in his last six matches, while Super Sargent has scored six goals in his last seven starts. Pepi is the only one who should be up for debate, but Berhalter put him on as a definite. Many fans believe Pepi bought his ticket to Qatar when he chose the USMNT over Mexico. Berhalter’s recent actions only fan the flames of those rumors.
An abundance of goal-scorers is a dream problem for the Stars and Stripes – especially with their stacked midfield.
Berhalter can untangle his own Jordian knot by adding Pefok to the November roster and dropping an MLS player (choose anyone – they aren’t ready.) Between the three-headed monster of Pefok, Pepi, and Sargent, the US should be able to find a goal every single game, especially when you have one of the most talented midfields in the world behind you.
Gio Reyna, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah, and Tyler Adams are all crushing it in their respective leagues, salivating at the opportunity to set up these three potential goal-scorers in Qatar.
If Berhalter can’t figure out how to get Pefok and Pepi on the pitch, then this should be his last tournament as the USMNT HC.
Which USMNT striker do you think should be in Qatar? Sound off below!
Featured Image: Pexels/nappy/USSoccerFederation/DM
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