EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso’s Ricardo Pepi is taking his game to the next level.
After a stellar 2021 campaign with MLS club, FC Dallas, the 18-year-old soccer star officially joined FC Augsburg in the Bundesliga on Monday, which is Germany’s top flight soccer league.
Pepi’s move will set a record for the most expensive transfer from an MLS home-grown player to Europe and will cost FC Augsburg $20 million to pry him from FC Dallas. Pepi passed his physical in Germany over the weekend, allowing the move to become official.
The native of the Borderland will sign a five-year contract with the Bundesliga side.
“Moving to Europe after the conclusion of the MLS season was my dream,” Pepi said in a statement Monday. “I believe FC Augsburg and the Bundesliga will prove the perfect settings for me to gain match practice at the top level as a youngster.
“The efforts the FCA club officials put in to sign me were really impressive. As a result, I felt right away that FCA was the right club for me. I can’t wait to meet my new teammates and I want to integrate into the team as quickly as possible. I can hardly wait to get going.”
The hope in Germany is that Pepi can step in and immediately help an FC Augsburg side that is currently battling relegation from the Bundesliga to the second division. They’re currently in 15th place with just 18 points in 17 matches, one point above the relegation line.
“We are delighted that Ricardo has decided to join Augsburg despite interest from a number of top clubs around the world,” Augsburg executive Stefan Reuter said. “We were able to provide him with a clear sporting plan for his future development that convinced him to come here. We are certain that he will continue to improve here in Augsburg and that we’ll have a lot of fun together over the coming years.”
Pepi had a breakout 2021 season with FC Dallas, as he led the team with 13 goals and three assists. Pepi’s 13 goals this season ties the all-time single-season MLS record for most goals scored by a teenager, as he became only the second teenager to score 10 or more goals in a single season. Pepi recorded his first MLS hat trick at 18 years and 196 days old, the youngest player to score a hat trick in MLS history.
“An opportunity like this is something I have worked my entire life to accomplish,” said Pepi. “This is truly a dream realized. I understand that I have to keep pushing, training and growing. I am grateful to the FC Dallas organization for helping me achieve this goal. I will always have a special place in my heart for FC Dallas and our amazing fans. Thank you for supporting me. I will continue to make you proud.”
The move for Pepi was reported by CBS Sports and Sky Sports’ Fabrizio Romano Saturday.
A native of San Elizario, Pepi has received multiple call-ups to the U.S. Men’s National Team for CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying, notching the go-ahead goal and dishing out two assists against Honduras on Sept. 8 in his debut, and recording a brace against Jamaica on Oct. 7.