USMNT takeaways: Yunus Musah among three players who improved their stock during October qualifying window

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The United States men’s national team wrapped up a triple-fixture October window with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Costa Rica on Wednesday, and there were numerous players that stepped up in a big way, not just in that game but across the three-match fixture. The Americans find themselves in a favorable position to qualify for next year’s World Cup in Qatar if they can continue to get results, finishing the month in second and having a three-point cushion over fourth place. But with so many injuries to deal with and the status of November’s squad yet to be decided, let’s take a look at the three players who have helped themselves the most during this month. All of them are under the age of 21.

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1. Ricardo Pepi

  • 178 minutes played in three games
  • Six shots
  • xG of 1.55
  • Two goals scored

Pepi has cemented himself, for now, as the starting striker for this team. He scored twice against Jamaica, nearly scored after coming on against Panama and had a couple good looks against Los Ticos. That is after his one-goal, two-assist performance at Honduras. He has as many goals for the national team since September as Josh Sargent has since 2019. He’s the future at the striker position, and the future is now.

2. Yunus Musah 

  • 210 minutes in three games
  • 89.9 percent pass completion 
  • Two chances created
  • One assist 

The young Valencia talent has come in and largely held his own. He was decent in his first match, looked lost (like the rest of the team) against Panama, but he was nearly perfect on the ball against Costa Rica. He’s completing nearly 90 percent of all his passes, and his passing was 100 percent in the final third against Los Ticos. 

This U.S. midfield has been Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and a big question mark. The young New York City-born midfielder has done enough to warrant more minutes, and if he can keep it up in November, he has a chance to lock himself in at that position moving forward.

3. Sergino Dest

  • 150 minutes played in two games
  • 92.9 percent pass completion against Jamaica
  • One goal and one assist
  • Three chances created
  • 10 recoveries 

While I may have concerns about what he brings defensively against superior opponents, Sergino Dest was superb going forward against Costa Rica. I’m not expecting him to be played higher up the field, but it is something I would consider, especially if Gio Reyna, who is working his way back from a hamstring injury, isn’t available for November. He’s clean on the ball when he doesn’t try to do too much, his flair gets him separation at times, and he is quick to get rid of the ball when he wants to. He’s shown twice now in the USA shirt that he is a threat from range, and his pass to Tim Weah for the second goal was weighted just perfectly. 

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