Pepi brace give USA the win over Jamaica

Published on 08 October 2021

USA Weston McKennie (white & blue kit) and Jamaica’s Tyreek Magee tussle for the ball in their Concacaf World Cup Qualifier for Qatar 2022 match at the Q2 Stadium, Austin, Texas on the 7th October, 2021. (Photo: Concacaf Media)

AUSTIN, Texas (October 7, 2021)—A double strike by USA teenage sensation Ricardo Pepi was enough to see off Jamaica 2-0 in World Cup Qualifying at Q2 Stadium in Texas on Thursday night.  The USA started on the front foot and Kemar Lawrence escaped being sent off after 20 seconds for what appeared to be a foul denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity. 

USA’s high press made it difficult for Jamaica to play freely out of the back and, with Jamaica conceding possession easily, Berhalter’s men attacked in droves in the opening minutes of the match, creating some uncomfortable moments for the Jamaican defense and a few half chances.

Playing a low block and surviving the early USA onslaught, the Caribbean outfit steadily grew in confidence and managed to establish a bit of possession, creating the first good chance of the match through Tyreek Magee.  The Belgium based midfielder turned well in midfield and drove at the heart of the defense, but his 25-yard effort narrowly missed the top right-hand corner, much to the relief of Matt Turner in goal. 

Jamaica again dodged a bullet in the 34th minute, this time Damian Lowe the guilty party.  Lowe inexplicable only received a yellow card for a foul just outside of the penalty area, despite clearly being the last defender.  With their full compliment of players, Jamaica went searching for the opening goal, and nearly got it from the boot of Jamal Lowe.  Lowe found some space of the right side, cut in and sent a curling effort to the bottom left -hand corner, soliciting a diving save by Turner to keep Jamaica off the scoreboard and sending the match into the half time interval tied at 0-0.

The second half started with Jamaica seemingly abandoning their first half tactics of getting bodies behind the ball and limiting the space available for the USA to play. The Reggae paid for that miscalculation four minutes into the second half.  Sergino Dest, after finding acres of space down the Jamaican left, picked out Pepi in the penalty area, and the teenager made no mistake with his headed finish past Andre Blake in goal.  One-nil to team USA. 

Pepi’s night got better in minute 62 as he doubled his tally, capping off a nice sequence of passes, with Brenden Aaronson setting things up nicely with a low cross from the left side for the FC Dallas man to tap home from close range.  That was the proverbial final nail in the coffin for the Caribbean side.

Berhalter looked to press home the advantage even more with the introduction of Gyasi Zardes and Timothy Weah, and while the pace and power of the duo certainly created problems for the weary Jamaican defense, there was no further damage done, at least not on the score board. 

The match ended USA 2-0. Jamaica next host Canada on October 10 and the USA travel to Panama on the same date.

 

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