Teenage striker Ricardo Pepi has joined Augsburg from FC Dallas, just months after bursting onto the scene with the USMNT. bundesliga.com profiles the up-and-coming American...
Country: USA (seven caps/ three goals)
Pepi got his big break playing for Dallas affiliate club North Texas SC in the inaugural USL League One - the USA's third tier. Scoring a hat-trick on his debut, the then 16-year-old ended the campaign on 11 goals at a clip of one every 102 minutes, and as a USL league and cup winner.
Pepi made a seamless transition to Major League Soccer, opening his account for Dallas at just the second time of asking before the Covid-19 pandemic checked his progress. Back on the goalscoring trail in 2021, the 6'0" striker leaves for Germany not only as the teenager with the second highest number of single-season strikes (13) in MLS history, but the division's youngest player to hit a hat-trick.
Pepi's exploits have translated onto the international stage. A 17-time US U17 international, he registered a debut goal and brace of assists for Gregg Berhalter's USMNT in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying win over Honduras in September 2021. The Texan followed that up with a pair of goals in his next outing against Jamaica. Former Borussia Dortmund playmaker Christian Pulisic is the only player younger than him to appear, and score, in a World Cup qualifier for the USA.
Plays a bit like: Ruud van Nistelrooy
There's much to be said about comparisons between Pepi and former Den Bosch, Heerenveen, PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Hamburg, Malaga and Netherlands fox in the box Ruud van Nistelrooy. The American is a handful with the ball at his feet and when running between defenders, clinical in one-on-ones and scores the majority of his goals from inside the 18-yard box.
Did you know?
Pepi previously spent time on trial at Bayern Munich, spending three weeks with the record champions in January 2021 as part of their player partnership with Dallas.
Watch: Chris Richards and Bayern's Dallas connection
What they're saying
"We're all excited. He's an 18-year-old who, when gets an opportunity, takes advantage. What you see and I think what I really like is that he has this instinct, and it's really hard to teach that to players. It's not easy to come back, and he knew eyes were on him and the word I'd use is 'professional'. I thought he had an excellent performance." - Berhalter on Pepi's USMNT debut
"He's competitive. Forget about the goalscoring. He's competitive. He works hard. He really grinds when he plays. And then when he gets a chance in the box, he's absolutely lethal." - Former USA international Landon Donovan
"Without overdoing it, that kid's hungry. He's telling me, 'let's go'. He's telling me with urgency we need to win, so that tells me everything about him." - Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez
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