At just 18 years old Ricardo Pepi will undoubtedly be under pressure given the size of the transfer fee but FC Ausburg will hope he can hit the ground running and keep them from being relegated this season.
Pepi started playing football at just four years old when he played in the local El Paso league in his hometown of El Paso Texas. After a few years he signed for North Texas SC a club set up by his dad that played in the USL league one. The club also became affiliated with FC Dallas in the MLS.
Pepi’s talent was clear to see, he managed to score a hat-trick against Chattanooga Red Wolves SC on his professional debut in the North Texas’s first competitive match, he followed this up by scoring again against Forward Madison.
Pepi was in action again in the USL league one playoffs as he scored a brace against Forward Madison to help advance his team to the final and although he was not involved his team one and he picked up his first trophy.
Breakthrough at FC Dallas
Following his brilliant performances for north texas the previous season in June 2019 he joined parent club FC Dallas in the MLS on a short term loan deal just before there first match of the season in the US open cup against OKC Energy.
Pepi started the match as FC Dallas won by four goals to nil to progress to the next round. Pepi started again but failed to score any goals. However he showed great potential and as a result the club signed Pepi to a homegrown player deal and barely a day later Pepi made his MLS debut as he came on as a substitute in a three nil win over Toronto FC.
Pepi went on to appear nine times however he finished the season with no goals.
The following season Pepi finally got his first senior goal for the club as he scored in the 96th minute to get FC Dallas a two all draw against Montreal Impact. He followed this up by scoring again on the 9th September 2020 against Minnesota United even though FC Dallas lost by three goals to two.
Pepi also managed to score the Equalizer late on for FC Dallas in the 2020 MLS cup playoffs against Portland Timbers. He also converted his penalty when the match went to a penalty shootout.
Despite scoring some goals Pepi was still not a regular starter for FC Dallas however that would change in the 2021 season. Pepi scored his first goal of the campaign away to San Jose Earthquakes although it was only a consolation as FC Dallas lost by three goals to one. However from then on Pepi became a fixture in the FC Dallas team. Pepi also managed to score in their next fixture against Minnesota United, he followed it up by scoring a brace against New England Revolution.
Then on July 24th 2021 Pepi made MLS history by scoring a his first professional hat trick against LA Galaxy making him the youngest player to achieve such a feat. He was performing so well that Bob Bradley called him up to play for the MLS All Stars during the MLS all star match against the Liga MX all stars. In what would be his last appearance in a Dallas shirt, Pepi scored a brace.
International career so far
Pepi had the opportunity to either represent Mexico or the United States, he had also attended under 17 training camps for both national teams. Then he was selected to play for the United States Men’s U17 national team for the Concacaf U-17 Championship. Pepi scored three goals during the Tournament.
Following his impressive performances in the Concacaf championships, Pepi was called up to the USMNT U17 team to play at the U17 World Cup.
In august 2021 Pepi was selected in the squad for the United States Men’s national team ahead of their campaign to try and qualify for the world cup this November. In his national team debut Pepi managed to score a goal during a four goal to one win against Honduras . Pepi followed this up by scoring a brace against Jamaica that was played in Austin Texas.
After proving his worth, on the third of January Augsburg announced the signing of Pepi for €18 million euros plus add ons. It meant Pepi became the second most expensive player to transfer from the MLS to a major European league.
With such a big price tag Pepi will be under a lot of pressure to perform in particular as Ausburg are currently fighting a relegation battle. Pepi has already made his debut for the club coming on for 30 minutes during their three goal to one defeat against TSG Hoffenheim last weekend.