Teen brigade. Pepi scored his ninth goal of the MLS season on Saturday and was picked to the MLS All-Star Game, one of four players who were teenagers when they were named to the 2021 MLS all-stars.
On Thursday, U.S. Soccer will reveal the national team roster for the first three World Cup 2022 qualifiers in September -- Soccer America will publish a special edition of SA Daily after the announcement -- and throughout Wednesday there were conflicting reports by reporters for Spanish-language outlets about Pepi being on the U.S. or Mexico roster before FS1 analyst Stuart Holden reported on the MLS All-Star Game broadcast that Pepi will indeed be on the U.S. roster.
Flair for the dramatic. Pepi came on in the second half and clinched the shootout win for the MLS all-stars in the fifth round. New England keeper Matt Turner, a U.S. star at the recent Gold Cup, made two saves in the shootout, and Pepi clinched the 3-2 victory for the USA after Portuguese star Nani missed badly in the fourth round.
Bob Bradley, the MLS all-star coach, had no hesitation about putting Pepi in the fifth slot in the shootout:
"He's a talented young goalscorer. He has great instincts, a lot of direct ways to finish. He puts himself in good positions, and he has a really good personality. He's a fun kid who really loves being around the goal and score. So when we were talking about penalties he was ready."
And Pepi's reaction to getting called up to the U.S. national team and scoring the winning penalty kick in the All-Star Game?
"It feels great," he said. "We'll wait tomorrow for official announcement to see what happens. To get the win for MLS, it feels great."