I'm glad to see Pepi and hope he still has a real shot at the starting 9 spot in the World Cup. I understand that Jesus is hottttt for Dallas and the xG argument for him- that he has a higher xG because he gets himself in position to score. I also get that Pepi's move to Augsburg hasn't gone well, though the loan move is looking solid in limited time, and I understand the xG argument against Pepi- that he was outperforming his xG so much that a drop-off in goals was likely. In essence, if we look at the chance for Ferriera against Japan early in the game, the header he put over the bar, the argument is that he consistently gets himself in these good positions to score and at some point the law of percentages will work in his favor. If he has two .5 xG chances and neither goes in, just wait and he will score the next two .5 xG chances. But we have been waiting and waiting for non-minnow goals and at some point we just need to acknowledge that the chances he's getting, while good xG chances, or not good chances for him. The reality though is that the xG models we have access to essentially tell us the percentage that chance has of becoming a goal, but doesn't account for the player taking the chance. When I see the chances that Ferreira is not finishing, I keep thinking "Pepi would have put that on frame at least".
In a vacuum, I do like Ferreira quite a bit. This is when the US can totally dictate what happens in a game and he can just link up with the other attackers. We don't live in that world though. Whether by design or not, most of the USMNT chances will come from crosses, and I expect Pepi to do better than Jesus with those chances. Going back to that chance against Japan, does anyone disagree that Pepi is more likely to bury that than Ferreira? Those are the kinds of chances the US creates more often than any other. The USMNT is not great at breaking down a low block or passing through a defense, but does get the ball wide for crosses pretty easily. I think sometimes we (including myself) get too caught up in advanced stats and ignore the most important stat of all. Put Pepi in that same spot as Ferreira for this team and he is more likely to score.
Beyond that, the two most impressive recent performances by the USMNT were the two qualifiers against Mexico. Pepi started both of those games. He also started the 2-1 win at home versus CR which I thought was a great display by the US as well. Yes, he didn't score, but the team looked at its best with him on the field so he must add something besides just the goals.
TL;DR I hope Pepi shows up and earns the starting 9 spot back.