American forward Ricardo Pepi ended a 30-match scoreless streak for club and country that reached almost a year, getting his first goal for Groningen in a 2-1 loss at Sparta Rotterdam on Saturday in the Dutch Eredivisie.
Pepi outjumped defender Adil Auassar just outside the 6-yard box and headed Isak Määttä’s cross to the left of diving goalkeeper Youri Schoonderwaldt for a 1-0 lead in the 61st minute.
A 19-year-old from El Paso, Texas, Pepi had not scored since getting two goals for the United States in a 2-0 win over Jamaica last Oct. 7 during a World Cup qualifier at Austin, Texas. Pepi had gone 345 days without a goal.
He transferred in January from Dallas to the German club Augsburg and went on loan to Groningen on Aug. 31 for the rest of the season after failing to score in his four Bundesliga matches this season. Pepi had an assist in his Groningen debut against Cambuur last weekend.
Pepi is set to join the U.S. team in Cologne, Germany, ahead of the Americans’ last two World Cup warmup matches, against Japan on Sept. 23 in Düsseldorf and Saudi Arabia four days later in Murcia, Spain. Pepi has three goals in 11 international appearances.
Sparta came back to win when Sven Mijnans scored in the 73rd minute and Vito van Crooij converted a penalty kick in the 90th after Tobias Lauritsen was fouled by Mike te Wierik.