Ricardo Pepi got a pair of goals early in the second half, becoming at 18 the youngest American to score in consecutive World Cup qualifiers, and the United States dominated Jamaica in a 2-0 victory Thursday night.
Pepi, who scored his first international goal to break a second-half tie at Honduras, put the U.S. ahead in the 49th minute to cap a quick end-to-end movement and added another goal in the 62nd.
Playing without injured attackers Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna, the 13th-ranked Americans won their second consecutive qualifier after opening with a pair of draws and improved to eight points after four of 14 matches in the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, The other six nations all played later Thursday.
No. 59 Jamaica, which has not gone to the World Cup since 1998, has one point after four matches.
Next up for the U.S. is a Sunday game at Panama followed by a home match next Wednesday against Costa Rica at Columbus, Ohio.
Ricardo Pepi, United States Forward:
"I feel like I've worked just to be able to be on the squad, be able to represent my country. I feel like I made a big decision and, like I said when I made my decision (to play for the United States), I was going to give my all to the team and that's what I'm doing."
"I feel like it's coming. I don't know if it's too fast or it's too slow, I feel like it's coming, whatever's going to come is going to come. I feel like I have to be ready for it, be prepared."
"I have my family in town and I had some family and friends that are from El Paso so it was a special night for me and I just want to thank all the fans and my family for coming out."
"It's a moment of, you know, just being able to stay calm, being able to just stay humble. I feel like I always talk to my family about a lot of things going on and they always tell me to stay humble and I've got to keep working."
Gregg Berhalter, United States Manager:
"We're all excited (for Ricardo), I mean, for us we're all just sitting there and we're on the train. We're observing everything that's happening - it's amazing. I mean, an 18 year old gets an opportunity and takes advantage of it. What you see and what I really like is that he has this instinct and it's really hard to teach that to players and he has an instinct to score."
"I think when you look at this game, and it's only one game of a three-game window, right? So we can't get too carried away. It was excellent application, it was excellent intensity - everything was pretty good about this game. The trap is going to be us thinking were great and us thinking we've qualified for the World Cup and if we do that we'll get our ass kicked in Panama on Sunday and, for us, it's about, ok, how you bring that again, and how you bring that again - that's going to be the challenge for us."
Theodore Whitmore, Jamaica Manager:
"Personally I think the second half we lost our discipline and the U.S. team capitalized on our mistakes. Personally I think the first half was a much, pretty decent performance from Jamaica team. I think the, after we conceded in the first half early, 49th minute I think we lost our discipline and it was an uphill battle for us."