Pepi: I can be USMNT’s top striker at World Cup


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Ricardo Pepi said he believes the leading man in the frontline for the United States men’s national team at the 2022 World Cup.

Speaking to ESPN’s Ahora O Nunca following his transfer from FC Dallas to Bundesliga side FC Augsburg, Pepi said he is confident to the starting No. 9 for Gregg Berhalter’s side in Qatar.

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“Yes, I believe that if I keep working and I keep showing that I have that specialty and I have the work, I believe I can be,” Pepi said.

The El Paso, Texas, native, has had a brilliant start to his national team career with three goals in seven appearances since his USMNT debut last year. Prior to his debut, Pepi was stuck in a battle between representing either the United States or Mexico.

The 18-year-old added that the exciting new generation of American talent had an impact in his decision to commit to the U.S. last year.

“You see all the young players…some of which I’ve played with and it gives you chemistry,” Pepi said.

After turning down Mexico, Pepi then got a chance to play against El Tri in a World Cup qualifier in Cincinnati last November. With Pepi on the field as a starter, the USMNT was able to defeat Mexico 2-0 in a match that the striker said was a “special game.”

“It was a game that had my family in the stadium,” Pepi said. “Obviously a game that I have dreamed of playing since I was little.”

Pepi’s new challenge will be how he adapts to Augsburg, which is battling relegation in the German domestic league. According to ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, Pepi’s transfer cost $20 million — an MLS record for a homegrown player.

“It shows you how valued I am at FC Dallas and the confidence that Augsburg has in me,” Pepi said. “I wanted to do it this year because I believe I was ready for that next step.”

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