Ricardo Pepi has spoken out following his omission from the United States Men's National Team World Cup roster.
The 19-year-old striker was overlooked by Gregg Berhalter despite hitting fine form since joining FC Groningen on loan from Augsburg, while also playing a pivotal role in qualifying with three goals for the USMNT.
However, Pepi gave the perfect response on Sunday, firing the opening goal in what turned out to be a 3-2 defeat for Groningen to Fortuna Sittard. But even despite Groningen's poor form, Pepi now has six goals and two assists in nine appearances for the Eredivisie side since arriving in September.
Speaking to reporters after the match, Pepi insisted there are no hard feelings with Berhalter and that he's already moved on to focus on his club form with Groningen.
"It's disappointing because I feel like I gave myself the best opportunity to be in the World Cup roster. I felt like I had a chance," said Pepi. "But also not disappointing at the same time because I did my thing, I went out there, I played a lot of minutes, I scored some goals and I'm really happy with that situation. At the end of the day, it's a coach's decision that I can't control.
"After he told me I wasn't in the selection, I just had to listen to what he said and didn't really ask any questions. Once he told me, I wanted to flip the page as soon as possible and just focus on the game now. I can't keep thinking about why I didn't make it."
Groningen are now out of action until January 8, when they face an Excelsior side just one point and one place above them in the table.
However, Pepi has revealed he and his teammates will have just two weeks off before getting back into training. Once they return, Groningen will need to improve drastically as they seek to battle away from their current 15th place in the Eredivisie table.
"We've got two weeks off now, we get to go back home and spend some time with the family, regroup. Then we come back and get back to work," former FC Dallas striker Pepi said.
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