Ricardo Pepi Profile
|Born||Sep 03, 2003|
|Birthplace||El Paso, Texas, United States|
FC Dallas striker Ricardo Pepi is already drawing admiring glances from European clubs, helped by a stunning international debut for USA.
Striker Ricardo Pepi made his professional debut in MLS at 16 years of age, having signed from FC Dallas affiliate club, North Texas SC.
He made his international debut for the USA in September 2021, starting against Honduras in a World Cup qualifying match.
Ricardo Pepi's youth career
In December 2018, Pepi became the first-ever signing of North Texas, who are the affiliate club of MLS team FC Dallas.
He made his debut the following March in North Texas' first ever match, hitting the headlines after scoring a hat-trick in a 3-2 win. He continued his form into the second match, scoring a late winner in a 1-0 victory over Forward Madison.
After being called up to the USA's under-17s team, Pepi returned to score in his third match for his club.
North Texas made the USL League One play-offs and Pepi scored both goals in a 2-0 semi-final win to send his side into the final in their inaugural season. He missed their final win over Greenville Triumph, however, after once again being called up by the under-17s.
Signing for FC Dallas
On June 21, 2019, Pepi signed as a homegrown player, becoming FC Dallas' fourth youngest academy signing. He made his first appearance in MLS the next day, coming on as a substitute in defeat to Toronto. He ended his first season with nine appearances.
The next season Pepi appeared 17 times, four as a starter.
He scored his first professional goal on March 7, 2020, netting a 96th-minute equaliser against Montreal Impact in a 2-2 draw.
In the first round of the 2020 season play-offs, Pepi scored another vital goal, in second-half stoppage time to equalise against Portland Timbers. He then stepped up to convert a penalty in an 8-7 shootout win.
Pepi scored his first goal of the 2021 MLS season on April 24 in a 3-1 defeat to San Jose Earthquakes. Following that goal, Pepi emerged as a regular starter for FC Dallas and scored three goals in two matches in June.
A month later, the 18-year-old scored his first career hat-trick in a 4-0 win over LA Galaxy. He was the youngest player in MLS history to score three goals in a match.
His form caught the eye of Bob Bradley who named him in the MLS All-Star team to play the Liga MX All-Stars.
Pepi came on as a half-time substitute and scored the winning penalty in a 3-2 shootout success after the fixture had ended 1-1.
With his reputation growing, Pepi has been linked with Dutch club Ajax in addition to teams in the Bundesliga and Serie A.
Ricardo Pepi's impressive USA debut
Pepi represented the USA at Under-17 level in 2018 and 2019, culminating in the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Pepi, who was also eligible to play for Mexico, was called up to the full USA squad by coach Gregg Berhalter for the September 2021 World Cup qualifiers.
He made his debut against Honduras, scoring a goal and providing two assists in a 4-1 win.