The United States men’s national team on Tuesday continued to round into form with a 4-0 win over Oman in a friendly matchup.
The convincing victory saw both of Gregg Berhalter‘s center-forwards grab goals either side of halftime — which won’t make the head coach‘s choice any easier ahead of November’s CONCACAF Nations League quarterfinal.
Flo starts the rout, Pepi adds to lead
Folarin Balogun may have only committed to the USMNT in May, but he has been a nailed-on starter since completing the switch. He’s made a habit of repaying the coach’s faith in that time, starting and scoring in June’s Nations League final win over Canada before knocking in a rebound after 12 minutes at Allianz Field on Tuesday night.
That’s Balogun‘s second goal for the Stars and Stripes in only four appearances, as the 22-year-old New York native — and recent arrival at AS Monaco — continues to excite fans with his blend of speed, movement, and finishing instinct.
But Balogun’s “rival” in attack had something to say later in the match. After entering as a halftime substitute, Ricardo Pepi extended the Americans‘ lead to 3-0 with a sharp right-footed finish from the edge of the penalty area.
Pepi, who moved to Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven over the summer, took two touches and lasered the DeJuan Jones cross into the net, effectively wrapping up the result in Saint Paul.
The battle to be Berhalter’s “nine”
The competition at center forward in the US national team has arguably never been hotter. Berhalter has two high-quality — and young — options to slot into the middle of his attacking trident, where he can flank the forward of his choice with star wingers Christian Pulisic and Tim Weah.
While Balogun‘s life with the Yanks is off to an impressive start, Pepi has been on an even-better run of form for the national team. The 20-year-old Texas native has scored six goals in his past six appearances for the USMNT and offers something different with his relentless runs and combination play.
With strikers like these, the USMNT attack could be in good hands for years to come. Their next test will be a friendly against manager-less Germany in October — and it will be fascinating to see which striker gets the nod at Rentschler Field in Connecticut.