DALLAS, Texas (KTSM) — There might not be a more exciting player in Major League Soccer (MLS) right now than El Paso’s own Ricardo Pepi. In fact, his stock couldn’t be higher at the moment.
The 18-year-old forward scored his 13th goal of the season for FC Dallas in a 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday night. Pepi is tied for fourth in the league in goals scored.
Finding the back of the net on Wednesday night was largely overshadowed by Pepi being called up by U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) head coach, Gregg Berhalter, to represent the United States in the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Jamaica, Panama and Costa Rica.
This is Pepi’s second call up to the USMNT following his senior team debut in September where he scored his first USMNT goal and recorded two assists in their 4-1 win against Honduras on Sept. 8 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Pepi became the second-youngest USMNT player to score in a World Cup Qualifier at 18 years and 242 days old, and was also the second-youngest player to make his senior team debut behind Christian Pulisic (17 years and 193 days).
Pepi also became the fourth-youngest player to score in his USMNT debut, trailing only Juan Agudelo, Josh Sargent and Landon Donovan. He’s the first USMNT player to score while making his international debut in a World Cup qualifying match since Eddie Johnson in 2004 and is the youngest to score while making his debut in World Cup Qualifying.
The El Paso, Texas native has scored 16 goals and recorded four assists across all competitions for FC Dallas. Pepi became the youngest player in MLS and FC Dallas history at 18 years and 196 days old to score a hat trick when he scored three goals in the 4-1 win against the LA Galaxy on July 24, 2021. Pepi participated in his first MLS All-Star Game on Aug. 25 and scored the game-winning penalty for the MLS All-Stars to beat LIGA MX All-Stars 3-2 in penalties following a 1-1 draw in regulation.
The USMNT is currently third in the Concacaf World Cup Qualifying standings with five points and a 1-0-2 record. The USMNT will face Jamaica in Austin, Texas (5:30PM MT; ESPN2, TUDN, Univision) on Oct. 7, Panama in Panama City, Panama (4PM MT; Paramount+, Universo) on Oct. 10, and Costa Rica in Columbus, Ohio (5:00PM MT; ESPN2, TUDN, UniMás) on Oct. 13.