MAKING THE CASE: Ricardo Pepi for Chipotle U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the YearEighteen-Year-Old Striker Made Instant Impact in USMNT Debut and Played Key Role During World Cup Qualifying While Taking Game to Next Level for FC Dallas
It’s been a banner year for forward Ricardo Pepi, who made a massive impact for both club and country in 2021 to earn his second nomination for Chipotle U.S. Soccer Young Male Player of the Year. The 18-year-old made his USMNT debut in spectacular fashion, becoming a key contributor during the USA’s World Cup qualifying campaign while taking the next step for FC Dallas as one of the top scorers in Major League Soccer.
Before casting your ballot for U.S. Soccer’s 2021 Player of the Year awards, here’s a rundown of Pepi’s body of work for country and club this year:
- Made one of the most memorable USMNT debuts in recent memory on Sept. 8, sparking a comeback win in the hostile environs of San Pedro Sula against Honduras in September World Cup qualifying. The 18-year-old catalyzed a second-half offensive explosion, teeing up the game-tying goal, scoring the game-winner, adding another assist and taking a hard shot to set up a fourth and final tally.
- Continued his hot streak in the October international window, bagging a brace in the USA’s 2-0 win against Jamaica in Austin on Oct. 7.
- Has played in every World Cup qualifying match since his U.S. debut.
- Took the next step at the club level, solidifying himself as FC Dallas’ first-choice striker with 13 goals, the most by any American in MLS this season.
- Became the youngest player to score a hat trick in MLS history on July 24 vs. LA Galaxy.
- Selected to this summer’s MLS All-Star Game, Pepi netted the game-winning penalty in a shootout against the Liga MX All-Stars on Aug. 25.
- Won 2021 MLS Young Player of the Year as he made a career-high 24 starts in 31 appearances for FCD this season after mostly serving as a super-sub in 2020.
Pepi was previously nominated for the award in 2019 following his performance with the U-17 USMNT during its 2019 World Cup qualifying and World Cup campaigns plus a standout first professional season in USL League One with North Texas SC.