Jordan Pefok is making his case to be the United States men’s national team’s starting striker at the 2022 World Cup through three weeks of the Bundesliga season.
The new Union Berlin striker, 26, has three goals and an assist in his first four matches with the German club, bagging two goals in league pay and a third in the German Cup.
Near-instant chemistry with strike partner Sheraldo Becker is encouraging for Pefok’s Union tenure, but what should be capturing the imagination of USMNT fans — and perhaps manager Gregg Berhalter — is Pefok’s ignorance of the big stage.
Pefok had a goal and an assist Saturday against RB Leipzig, the best opponent he’s faced with Union. He scored in his first league match for the club, which happened to be a season-opening Berlin derby.
His German Cup goal leveled an away tie, and this is all without mentioning his big-game history. Pefok’s scored a goal against Dynamo Kiev in his Europa League debut, three over two legs against Bayer Leverkusen in his first UEL knockout tie, and a massive goal versus Manchester United in his first UEFA Champions League group stage match.
Can Jordan Pefok be USMNT’s striker at World Cup
Should this start be enough to get Pefok into USMNT camp for September’s friendlies? Almost certainly.
Can a good performance there partner with a strong Bundesliga start to overcome Pefok’s big USMNT miss in World Cup qualifying in the eyes of Berhalter? Probably, and Pefok only went and came off the bench three months earlier to win the Nations League semifinal with Honduras.
Union faces Schalke, Bayern, Koln, and Wolfsburg before the return of international duty. There will be other strikers making their case, as Jesus Ferreira keeps shining for FC Dallas while Josh Sargent is stepping up his game with Norwich City in the Football League Championship.
Timothy Weah is a candidate to start and Haji Wright scored a penalty Saturday for Antalyaspor to give him goals in consecutive Turkish Super Lig games. Ricardo Pepi, Matthew Hoppe, and more are also fighting for a spot. Looking at the list above and the competition he’s facing, Pefok’s got a strong shot to be there in Qatar.
Ice cold finish by Jordan Pefok ❄️ pic.twitter.com/owm61qwF5x
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) August 20, 2022