Ricardo Pepi explains why he chose USMNT over Mexico
The FC Dallas striker was born in El Paso, Texas, but his parents are from Mexico and he grew up watching the Liga MX and ‘El Tri.’
Ricardo Pepi is one of the brightest stars of Major League Soccer and several clubs in Europe are keen on signing the 18-year-old. The FC Dallas striker is having a breakout season with 13 goals and three assists in 27 league appearances so far this season. Pepi was born in El Paso, Texas, but his parents are from Mexico.
Why did he choose the USMNT?
Daniel, Ricardo’s father, talked about his son growing up watching the Liga MX and the Mexican national team. El Paso is about 83% Latino and most of them are of Mexican descent. So Ricardo grew up playing soccer with kids two years older than him because he had a talent to find the back of the net. According to an article by ESPN many people where 99% sure that if given the opportunity, Pepi would play with Mexico.
As Ricardo was making his way to the first team of FC Dallas, he attended training camps for both the United States U17 and Mexico U17 sides. But in 2019, Pepi was starting to get constant call-ups by the United States youth teams and that year he scored his first international goal against Panama. The next game he scored a brace against Canada to help the US reach the final.
His performances with the United States U17 side and FC Dallas caught the eye of USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter, who decided to include him in the squad for the international break in September. Pepi made his debut in the World Cup qualifiers against Honduras and scored the a goal for the United States in a 4-1 away victory.
When asked by TUDN why he chose the USMNT over the Mexico national team he said: “It was a difficult decision. I thought about it for three or four years and I had to talk a lot with my family and the people I trust the most. It was a decision made with my heart.”
Pepi on Europe
The USMNT striker has been linked to several clubs in Europe, including Juventus, Wolfsburgo, Ajax and Bayern Munich. So when asked about the possibility of him leaving for Europe in January he said: “The press has linked me to several teams in Europe and the rumors are all true. But I want to go somewhere where I can play a lot.”
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