USMNT player ratings vs El Salvador: Ricardo Pepi is BACK with another goal as striker makes instant impact

Ricardo Pepi USMNT 2022-23Getty Images

While there were banners all around the stadium in honor of the U.S. men's national team's potential striker of the future, a player that once held that title proved that he still has plenty to say about the ongoing No. 9 race.

Ricardo Pepi came off the bench and, within two minutes, scored himself a game-winning goal, leading the U.S. to a 1-0 victory over El Salvador at Exploria Stadium in Orlando. With the win, the U.S. advance to the semifinals of the Nations League, where they will look to defend the crown they won in 2021.

That trophy came before the emergence of Pepi, who arrived on the scene later that fall. In the time since, he's gone from striker of the present and future to World Cup roster cut and, now, all the way back. Having scored three goals in two games this window, Pepi's confidence appears to be back, and that's good news for the USMNT even with the potential arrival of Folarin Balogun looming large.

GOAL rates the USMNT's players from Exploria Stadium...