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Pepi becomes second-youngest USMNT player to start in World Cup qualifier with Honduras selection

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The FC Dallas star contributed to four goals in the U.S. win

Ricardo Pepi becamethe second-youngest player to appear in a World Cup qualifier for the U.S. men’s national team as the FC Dallas star contributed to all four goals in Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Honduras.

Pepi, who spoke to Goal earlier this summer about his recent rise and future ambitions, has emerged as one of MLS’ most deadly strikers and he certainly made his mark on his international debut by scoring a goal, assisting two more and setting up another in a much-needed win.

With the start, Pepi made his first USMNT appearance at just 18 years, 242 days, making him the second-youngest American to play in World Cup qualifying behind only Christian Pulisic (17 years, 193 days in a March 2016 match against Guatemala).

The USMNT lineup

Facing what was essentially a must-win clash so early in the cycle, USMNT boss Gregg Berhalter sent out an unpredictable lineup with several major changes.

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Pepi, George Bello, James Sands and Mark McKenzie all played in a World Cup qualifier for the first time, with Sands playing in the central midfield after playing as a centerback through the Gold Cup.

However, that lineup was immediately proven to be a mistake as the U.S. were undone by Honduras in a poor first half that ended 1-0 in favor of the hosts.

At the half, Berhalter made three changes, sending out Antonee Robinson, Sebastian Lletget and Brenden Aaronson before also bringing in DeAndre Yedlin and Cristian Roldan a bit later.

All but Roldan, who replaced an injured Pulisic, contributed to goals with Pepi being the common denominator in all four as the U.S. got their qualifying campaign back on track.

Up next for the U.S. is a clash with Jamaica on October 7 with the team now holding on to five points from their first three World Cup qualifying games.

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