- Pefok snubbed by Berhalter for Qatar
- Although mother claimed she would have, too
- Striker has one goal in nine USMNT appearances
WHAT HAPPENED? The 26-year-old Washington, D.C., native was one of several surprising names snubbed by Gregg Berhalter for the winter World Cup, alongside the likes of Zach Steffen and Ricardo Pepi. With four goals and three assists to his name for Union at the time, Pefok admitted it was "tough" not to make the cut at the first, before his mom brought things into perspective.
WHAT THEY SAID: “[Berhalter] called me and told me that he was not going to call me up for the World Cup. The first two days, it was tough,” Pefok told ESPN in an exclusive interview before the international break. “Then I spoke to my mum. She knows nothing about football. She asked me: ‘Are you sick?’ No. ‘Are your brothers and sisters sick?’ No. ‘Am I sick?’ No. ‘Do you have money issues?’ No. ‘So what’s the issue then?’ It put everything in context and perspective then.
“I sat down, I was still cross, but she was right. She added: ‘I know nothing about football but I know that you went with the national team and you only scored one goal. Even if I was the national team head coach, I would not have called you up! A goal scorer has to score goals, that’s all.’ She was brutal. The disappointment went away and I started working hard again to make sure that I play at the 2026 World Cup at home.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Indeed, Pefok's club form differs greatly to his exploits for the Stars and Stripes. He has scored - as his mom rightly points out - just one goal in nine international appearances, though only two of those were starts. The 26-year-old hasn't featured for the USMNT since March 2022, although a good showing with high-flying Union this term - who sit in third in the Bundesliga after 25 games - will certainly help his case.
This page contains affiliate links. When you subscribe through the links provided, we may earn a commission.
Sign up here for MLS Season Pass through Apple TV and watch every MLS match, including the playoffs!
IN THREE PHOTOS:Getty ImagesGetty ImagesGetty
WHAT NEXT FOR PEFOK? After a period of rest having not been selected by interim boss Anthony Hudson over the international break, the forward will next be in action for Union when they host Stuttgart on Saturday.