The USMNT’s very own Ricardo Pepi just went from scoring in the Champions League last week, to being relegated to his club's reserve team this week and if you're wondering why, we're here to explain.
Ricardo Pepi dropped to Jong PSV just days after scoring Champions League winner
Ricardo Pepi burst onto the world’s headlines last Wednesday after scoring a dramatic late-winner for PSV Eindhoven against Sevilla in the UEFA Champions League. The most important goal of his club career as of yet.
His stoppage-time header qualified and sent the current Eredivisie leader’s straight into the round of 16.
However, just five days after his moment of glory for the Red and Whites in the European competition, the 20-year-old American made a shocking appearance with PSV’s reserve team, Jong PSV.
The USMNT striker started and played 90 minutes in Jong PSV’s 5-0 loss to NAC Broad in the Keuken Kampioen Divisie on Monday, raising speculation over the reasons for his ‘shocking demotion’.
— PSV (@PSV) December 4, 2023
NAC Breda krijgt maandagavond te maken met Ricardo Pepi. De spits, die tien miljoen euro kostte en PSV vijf dagen geleden naar de achtste finales van de Champions League kopte, komt in actie in de Keuken Kampioen Divisie met Jong PSV.https://t.co/D1ubOVl3wv— Voetbal International (@VI_nl) December 4, 2023
His call-up to the reserve team comes after playing just 238 minutes in 19 games so far in the 2023-24 season, an average of 12.5 minutes played per game.
What does this mean? Should USMNT fans be worried?
Pepi’s appearance for PSV’s reserve team, as mentioned, comes after seeing little to no minutes so far in the season.
His clear back-up role to club legend Luuk de Jong, as well as his first-season hierarchy with club, are some of the main reasons for his constant lack of minutes.
However, while the former FC Dallas attacker’s minutes with the Dutch club have been low, his goal-contribution-per-minute-played ratio has remained the complete opposite.
The young American has tallied six goal contributions (five goals and one assist) across all competitions this season, meaning he’s directly involved in a goal every 40 minutes.
This incredible stat, combined with his amount of minutes played and De Jong’s incredible form this season as the team’s main striker, show the club is probably considering the striker for the reserve team to get more minutes on the pitch rather than sitting on the bench week-in and week-out.
"[Ricardo Pepi] trains very well and also shows himself when he plays. He is completely unlucky that he has [Luuk de Jong] in front of him who is scoring," said PSV coach Peter Bosz when asked about the USMNT striker back in September.
Hence, the decision of sending him to Jong PSV to get some playing time definitely makes sense for the 20-year-old. Though, while this decision may come as a way for Pepi to stay in form, we should expect him to still be a part of the first team squad for weeks to come.
PSV will play their next against Heerenveen in the 15th Matchday of the Eredivisie on Thursday in hopes of extending their 10-point lead as league leaders.