'I think I made a big statement tonight' - USMNT's Ricardo Pepi joins elite company in Christian Pulisic and Jozy Altidore with another goal

Pepi Pulisic Reyna USMNT El Salvador 2023Getty
  • Pepi scored winner vs El Salvador
  • Up to six goals for USMNT
  • Follows in Pulisic & Altidore footsteps

WHAT HAPPENED? Pepi scored just two minutes after coming on in Friday's 1-0 win over El Salvador, following up a performance that saw him net twice in a 7-1 win over Grenada.

With the three finishes this week, Pepi now has six senior goals for the U.S., making him the third-youngest USMNT player to reach that mark. Pepi is only 20 years and 77 days old, meaning only Christian Pulisic (18 years, 263 days) and Jozy Altidore (19 years, 146 days) were younger when scoring their sixth national team goal.

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WHAT THEY SAID: "It feels a little special to be able to be behind players like Jozy and like Christian," Pepi said. "I didn't really think about it in the moment, but now just talking about it, I feel special to be able to be that list."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: It's been a long road back for Pepi, who, at one point in 2021, looked like he would be a starter for the 2022 World Cup. He ended up falling out of the picture entirely due to a disastrous move to Augsburg, but the striker is now back scoring goals for Groningen and, most importantly, for his country.

"It's been a roller coaster, to be honest," Pepi said. "I'm happy to be just in the squad scoring goals again after missing the World Cup. I think I made a big statement tonight. I'm just happy to be out there fighting with my teammates again and helping them out."

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Pepi celebrate USMNT El Salvador 2023GettyUSMNT Pulisic El Salvador 2023GettyJozy Altidore USMNT 2017Getty

WHAT NEXT FOR PEPI? The striker will now head back to Groningen, where he could feature as soon as this weekend when the Dutch side visits Fortuna Sittard. Pepi has 10 goals this season for Groningen, who enter the weekend in 17th place, which, if it holds, would see the club relegated.