United States worldwide striker Ricardo Pepi mentioned will probably be a “particular feeling” for him when the U.S. takes on Mexico in World Cup qualifying on Friday (stream LIVE on ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET).
Rising up in El Paso, Texas, the United States-Mexico soccer rivalry was at all times appointment viewing in Pepi’s family.
“[It was] a particular feeling having my household apart from me at all times rooting for the sport,” Pepi mentioned Tuesday. “It was rooting for Mexico again then.”
Following Pepi’s worldwide dedication to the USMNT in August, it is much more essential and, in fact, the household allegiance has modified.
The 18-year-old FC Dallas striker mentioned he’ll have about 10 members of the family in attendance at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati as the USA and Mexico renew their rivalry.
He mentioned he can already anticipate what will probably be like to listen to the nationwide anthems.
“It’ll be a particular feeling,” he mentioned. “Having my household within the stands having me with the U.S. jersey on — I really feel like I’ll get some goosebumps for positive. It’ll be that feeling the place I’ll be very motivated for the sport, and I’ll be ready for it.”
Pepi’s meteoric rise to the highest of the USA males’s nationwide workforce striker depth chart over the previous two months has been among the many most essential developments because the workforce began World Cup qualifying.
He scored three objectives in his first two appearances and is predicted to obtain the majority of the minutes this window as the USA hosts Mexico earlier than touring to Jamaica for a sport on Tuesday.
Pepi scored 13 objectives in 31 league video games this season, topping Dallas and twelfth general in Main League Soccer.
“He is taken his alternatives very well,” United States midfielder Kellyn Acosta mentioned. “He is showcased properly in MLS, then coming right here within the nationwide workforce he is been nice, scoring a bunch of objectives being a drive up entrance.
“I feel he is a man that is fairly stage headed regardless of all the things going round round him. He is achieved a fantastic job of being being assured and being a quiet murderer on the sector.”
By way of six matches, Mexico (14 factors) sits three factors forward of the USA (11) within the CONCACAF standings, with Canada in third with 10. The highest three groups on the finish of 14 matches will routinely qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
After beating Mexico twice in the summertime — within the finals of each the Nations League and Gold Cup — Acosta added that the USMNT is assured headed into the match, particularly contemplating the anticipated favorable crowd in Cincinnati.
“We’re anticipating to come back out aggressive and being decisive as properly,” Acosta mentioned. “And I do know they’ll attempt to match that depth. Being in a pro-U.S. setting is unquestionably big for us. And every dwelling sport is a sport that must be a must-win in an effort to go into that sport with that mentality.”