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Ricardo Pepi’s Journey Toward Global Soccer Dominance Has Begun

We’ll say we saw him back when.
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Pepi is flying off into the sunset. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas made it official this morning: Ricardo Pepi is going to Europe, after the club reached an agreement to transfer the striker to German Bundesliga side FC Augsberg.

This was inevitable and not altogether uncommon for FC Dallas, which has cemented itself as Major League Soccer’s premier incubator for young talent on the strength of players like Weston McKennie (who now plays for Italian powerhouse Juventus and is among the handful of best players in the U.S. Men’s National Team), Bryan Reynolds (AS Roma), Chris Richards (FC Hoffenheim on loan from Bayern Munich, the nine-time reigning German Bundesliga champions), and most recently Tanner Tessmann, who was sold to Italian side Venezia over the summer.

None of them, however, boast the promise of Pepi, as evidenced by the reported transfer fee of $20 million plus incentives (including a sell-on clause), a record for a homegrown Major League Soccer player as well as an overall record for FC Dallas. This is prone to happen when, at 18 years old, you lead your club in scoring, become a league All-Star, get named MLS’ Young Player of the Year, and break into the national team, which just so happens to have a longstanding need for a tall, prolific goalscoring forward.

There is every expectation, in other words, that Pepi is on the road toward stardom on the pitch, which figures to lead to stardom off of it given the position he plays—goals equal attention—and being a Mexican American athlete with a burgeoning fanbase in both countries. (Related: our Roberto José Andrade Franco profiled Pepi for ESPN in October, and it is a must-read if you haven’t checked it out). So pull your bragging pants out of storage and prepare to slide into them when Pepi is off to the English Premier League three years from now and pushing 50 national team goals in a half decade or so. He may take over the world soon, but he took over Dallas, first. And whatever happens next will be an incredibly fun ride.  

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Mike Piellucci

Mike Piellucci

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Mike Piellucci is D Magazine's sports editor. He is a former staffer at The Athletic and VICE, and his freelance…

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