Seven match weeks into the Bundesliga season, Union Berlin is top of the table — two points clear of Borussia Dortmund and five of Bayern Munich — with a 26-year-old American leading the charge.
On Sunday, he scored again — his third (to go with two assists) in six appearances — in Union's 2-0 victory over Wolfsburg. This one was a perfectly timed near post run to get in front of his marker and glance a header inside the opposite post.
This, my friends, is good forward play.
At any time in the USMNT's past, this sort of thing (inspiring your team to the top of the Bundesliga and scoring great goals) would make you the first name on the team sheet. But we all know that Jordan Pefok (aka Theoson-Jordan Siebatcheu, but he's also given me the green light to call him Jordy P Funk) isn't on the 26-player roster for this month's friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia in Europe.
Union's social team doesn't understand the decision.
— 1. FC Union Berlin (@fcunion) September 18, 2022
To be fair to Gregg Berhalter, there are things the highlights don't show. Pefok had five shots, and according to Reuters reporter Karolos Grohmann, the American "wasted three good chances earlier in the game" before finally converting in the 54th minute.
The strikers on the roster are Jesús Ferreira, Josh Sargent and Ricardo Pepi. Ferreira has 18 goals and five assists in 31 games for a playoff bound FC Dallas. Sargent has been a monster for Norwich City in the Championship, scoring six and creating one in nine games.
Pepi was the surprise inclusion over Pefok as the 19-year-old was in the midst of a 30-game, 345-day goal drought when he received the call-up. However, Pepi finally ended that streak on Saturday with his first for Groningen in the Eredivisie.
RICARDO PEPI GOAL The 19-year-old from El Paso opens his FC Groningen account with this header in his very first start for the team. This comes just days after being called up to the USMNT’s latest camp. What a week he is having. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/SQYhADfJat— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) September 17, 2022
If the strikers collectively perform well in the friendlies on Sept. 23 and 27, then you get the feeling that Berhalter won't be selecting Pefok for Qatar. However, if the team struggles in attack, then it'll be impossible to ignore Pefok's form come November.