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‘I hung up on him!’ - Pepi reaction to World Cup snub from USMNT coach Berhalter

12:40 GMT+3 05/01/2023
Ricardo Pepi United States USMNT
Ricardo Pepi has revealed that he “hung up” on Gregg Berhalter after being informed that he was not in the United States’ 2022 World Cup squad.
  • Forward impressing on loan at Groningen
  • Left out of 26-man party for Qatar 2022
  • Reacted angrily to big selection decision

WHAT HAPPENED? The 19-year-old forward had expected to be included in a 26-man party travelling to Qatar after hitting seven goals during a productive loan spell at Eredivisie side Groningen. He was, however, overlooked when final selection calls were made, leading to him reacting angrily to decision that saw the likes of Jordan Morris, Haji Wright and Josh Sargent picked ahead of him.

WHAT THEY SAID: Pepi has told Groningen’s Kon Veel Minder podcast of his reaction to being informed by Berhalter that he would not be in the USMNT squad for a trip to the Middle East: “I remember exactly the moment - I hopped on a phone call with national team coach, he said I wasn't on the roster so then I just hung up the phone on him.”

Asked if he sought any explanation for that snub, Pepi added: “No, not really to be honest. I was in shock, it took me five minutes to get it in my mind. I just couldn't believe it - I called my agent immediately and then I called my dad. They thought I was playing with them. It was something that I was shocked about to be honest. I use every situation and every situation like this is always going to make hungry.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: The U.S. suffered a last-16 defeat to the Netherlands at Qatar 2022, with a lack of firepower considered to have contributed to their early departure – with only three goals scored across four matches – but plenty of optimism remains heading towards another global gathering in 2026 that will see America fill a role of co-hosts alongside neighbours Canada and Mexico.

IN TWO PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT? It remains to be seen what the future has in store for Berhalter as, after seeing his contract with U.S. Soccer come to a close, he now finds himself at the centre of a storm regarding an incident that has been brought to light by the family of Borussia Dortmund playmaker Gio Reyna in which the American coach kicked his now-wife Rosalind during a drunken argument back in 1991.