FC Dallas player Ricardo Pepi commented on his performance after debuting with the US men’s national team on Wednesday against Honduras in the Concacaf 2022 World Cup qualifiers, stating he was prepared to take advantage of the moment.
Pepi recently committed to the American national team after months of speculation that the FC Dallas player would prioritize Mexico instead. His decision came to light after USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter included Pepi’s name in the World Cup qualifiers roster.
Pepi did not disappoint, recording one goal and two assists during his first match.
“When Gregg told me that I was going to start, it was on the plane on the way here. So it was very special. I was prepared for the moment and I took advantage of it. I was ready for the opportunity and I was waiting for the ball to come to me. So I feel like everything was perfect,” Pepi said after his dream USMNT debut on Wednesday.
The forward remained sidelined for the USMNT’s first two matches of the octagonal round against Canada and El Salvador before finally coming off the bench against Honduras.
“It was a learning experience for me,” he said of the first two games spent on the bench. “I feel like I learned about the opponents, the atmosphere that games like this are in. It was very important for me to able to take that energy, manage it and then be ready and be prepared for the next one.
"It's been special. I feel like I've worked hard for all these moments. I feel like I've prepared myself on and off the field for these moments, and just ready to keep working for the team and prepare for the next one.”
USMNT boss Gregg Berhalter walked away pleased with his decision to start the FC Dallas player after a whirlwind octagonal round surrounded by scandal and frustration.
“I think he did a great job. Worked tirelessly, competed against physical center backs, scored a really good goal and overall I think had a strong performance,” said Berhalter. “For an 18-year-old, it's really impressive what he did.”
The USMNT now stand in third place with five points in three matches, salvaging their status after two draws.