USMNT

Gregg Berhalter admits Ricardo Pepi's form is 'absolutely' a concern

Lizzy Becherano
FC Augsburg's Ricardo Pepi is a concern to USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter.
FC Augsburg's Ricardo Pepi is a concern to USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter. / Alex Grimm/GettyImages
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USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter revealed he is concerned about several players on the squad after announcing the 27-player roster for the March World Cup qualifiers. 

Berhalter quickly addressed the omission of John Brooks and a contingency plan should Sergino Dest be ruled out after suffering a hamstring injury, before admitting Ricardo Pepi is an absolute worry. 

Pepi has seen a decline in his game after a whirlwind start to his USMNT career. The former MLS player left FC Dallas during the offseason to join FC Augsburg, but has failed to register a goal or assist in his six appearances since.

"Am I concerned about Ricardo Pepi? Absolutely, no question about it. We want him scoring goals. We want all our strikers scoring goals," said Berhalter.

"One thing with Ricardo is getting back to the basics with him. He's a goalscorer and that comes naturally to him. And that's something we need him to refocus on, clear his mind, focus on doing the small things, getting in good positions, because if he gets in good positions, we're comfortable he's going to score."

Berhalter went on to assume that Pepi’s problem comes from adjusting to a new style of play, before reassuring US fans.

"He's asked to play slightly different for Augsburg. When he's on the field, they're creating chances by him running behind the backline, not so much from service. And we hopefully will get some more service in the penalty box and that will help them out a little bit when he plays. So it is a concern of mine, but I've spoken to him at length and he's ready to go for this window," he added.

The USMNT kicks off the international window on March 24 when confronting North American rivals Mexico. They currently sit in second place on the Concacaf table, and could qualify to the World Cup this window should they defeat two out of three competitors.

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