New Augsburg signing Ricardo Pepi (l.) could come up against fellow USMNT player Chris Richards (r.) against Hoffenheim this weekend. - © DFL
New Augsburg signing Ricardo Pepi (l.) could come up against fellow USMNT player Chris Richards (r.) against Hoffenheim this weekend. - © DFL
bundesliga

Ricardo Pepi and Chris Richards set for USMNT showdown as Augsburg face Hoffenheim

whatsappmailcopy-link

Don't be surprised if there is a distinctly FC Dallas feel to this weekend's encounter between Hoffenheim and Augsburg, with Chris Richards and Ricardo Pepi set to do the MLS, and American soccer fans, proud as the Bundesliga resumes this weekend.

With Pepi the latest player to make his way from the United States to Germany's top flight following his recent move to Augsburg, one game in particular this weekend will be attracting plenty of extra attention stateside.

On loan from giants Bayern Munich, Richards' involvement in the latest round of fixtures will make for compelling viewing for Pepi, with the USMNT international keen to see first hand how his compatriot and fellow Dallas youth academy member has bedded in.

Watch: Pepi's first few days in Augsburg

Pepi, along with several other FC Dallas homegrown players, trained at Bayern a little under a year ago, following in the footsteps of Richards, who subsequently made the move to the current Bundesliga champions in 2018.

Now in his second successful loan stint at Hoffenheim, Richards is seen as a superb example to follow for many American youngsters hoping to make it in the Bundesliga big time.

"I look at Chris Richards as an example of the process," Dallas's Dante Sealy, who joined Pepi during last year's Bayern trial, told FCDallas.com in February 2021. "He went through this and now he’s playing with Bayern’s first team. So, it’s right there and we’ve got to keep focused.”

Watch: Bayern's Dallas connection

Richards signed a homegrown player contract with Dallas following his second trial at the club in 2018 before quickly jetting to Munich to pen a six-month loan deal with Bayern, a move that would be made permanent the following January.

If Richards never got the chance to showcase his skills with the club from the Lone Star State, Pepi most certainly did. The 18-year-old striker - who signed his own homegrown player deal with the club as a 16-year-old - made waves in the 2020 season before catching fire in 2021.

Becoming the youngest player to score a hat-trick in MLS history, the El Paso-born player finished the season as the league's Young Player of the Year. Unsurprisingly, like Richards, USMNT caps also arrived.

Richards wasn't in the Stars and Stripes' squad when Pepi made his dramatic senior international bow, scoring one and assisting two goals as the Unites States came from a goal behind to beat Honduras in a World Cup qualifier.

Pepi went on to net twice more in the USMNT's next win (2-0) against Jamaica while in the striker's subsequent five games for Gregg Berhalter's side, he has been on the field together with Richards in three of them.

Now on opposing teams in the Bundesliga, the pair will have the chance to face off - striker against defender - in what promises to be an enduring friendly rivalry with a distinctly U.S. feel.

In addition to facing Richards in the Bundesliga, Pepi could also lock horns with USMNT teammate Tyler Adams when Augsburg visit RB Leipzig on Matchday 33 in May. - Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire/Imago

And if Pepi has his way of emulating his heroes while in Germany, Richards will have his work cut out for him. "There are players like Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland I compare my game to," the forward told CBS soccer.

"I like to watch their movements and do some video on them and I like to prepare myself for them. Lewandowski is one of the best strikers in the world and I like to compare myself to him. A lot." Let battle commence!

whatsappmailcopy-link