AUSTIN, Texas – Riccardo Pepi was kicked off the field as the volume at the stadium increased. With two skilful touches of the ball, he had worked his way up for the night, and was out of the game with more than 20 minutes left.
Before reaching the bench, Pepi, an 18-year-old Mexican-American striker from Texas, put his head down, touched the grass and crossed himself. A mantra made in the stand at all times:
“Pepi! Pepi! Pepi!”
Puberty is a complicated thing.
when things are going wrong, like they did for most of the last month To the United States men’s soccer team, youth can feel like an obvious obligation. When things are going well, as they did on Thursday night in Austin, it can give you all the hope in the world.
Pepi presented a dazzling future vision for the Americans and 20,500 fans in attendance for one night, scoring two second-half goals to lead the United States to a 2–0 win over Jamaica in their fourth World Cup qualifying match. Did it Did it