Ricardo Pepi scored in his first game since being bypassed for the U.S. World Cup roster, putting Groningen ahead in a 3-2 loss to Fortuna Sittard on Sunday in the Dutch Eredivisie.
The 19-year-old from El Paso, Texas, tapped Ragnar Oratmangoen’s cross past goalkeeper Ivor Pandur from 6 yards in the 45th minute.
Pepi has six goals in nine league matches and seven goals overall since he was loaned to Groningen from Germany’s Augsburg.
He was left off the U.S. roster by coach Gregg Berhalter in favor of forwards Jesús Ferreira, Josh Sargent and Haji Wright.
“Disappointing because I felt like I gave myself the best opportunities to be in the World Cup roster,” Pepi told OOG Groningen television after the game. “I felt like I had a chance, but also not disappointing at the same time because I did my thing. I went out there, I played many minutes. I scored my goals. So I’m really happy with that situation, and at the end of the day, it’s a coach’s decision that I can’t control.”
Pepi said he let Berhalter do most of the talking.
“I just had to listen to what he said and I didn’t really ask any questions,” he said. “I can’t keep thinking about why I didn’t make it.”
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