El Paso native Ricardo Pepi nets two goals in 5-3 FC Dallas win ahead of USMNT stint

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Ricardo Pepi and Jesús Ferreira each scored two first-half goals to help FC Dallas beat Austin FC 5-3 on Sunday night.

The 18-year-old Pepi, a dual national born in El Paso, Texas, has 11 goals this season — the most by an American in MLS. He was named to the U.S. national team this week, picking the squad over Mexico.

“It gives me a lot of confidence to go out there to the national team and win the three games,” Pepi told the FS1 broadcast after the match. “They’re big games, World Cup qualifiers, so we’re ready; it feels great. There’s no better way to go into camp than with two goals, and I’m ready to go in and fight for the national team.”

Jáder Obrian added a goal early in the second half for Dallas (6-9-7). Julio Cascante, Diego Fagundez and Alexander Ring scored for expansion Austin (5-12-4).

Szabolcs Schön played a low cross from the right side to Pepi, who blasted a roller from 15 yards out to give Dallas the lead for good in the 36th minute.

Obrian back-heeled a ball to Schön, whose shot was blocked by defender Matt Besler but Ferreira put away a one-touch side-footer in the 38th. After an Austin turnover near midfield, Pepi raced down the right side before slipping a roller inside the near post to make 4-1 in the 40th.

Ferreira opened the scoring in the fifth minute, ripping a roller between goalkeeper Brad Stuver’s legs and into the net after Pepi poked the ball away from Stuver.

Zan Kolmanic played a long arcing ball-in from the left wing to Cascante, who side-netted a header from the corner of the 6-yard box for Austin in the 13th. Fagundez scored in the 59th and Ring in the 68th.

Stuver, who went into the game leading MLS in both saves per 90 minutes (4.35) and save percentage (78.4%), had two saves.

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