Ricardo Pepi Makes His Presence Known with First FC Dallas Goal

FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas’ past, present and future were all on show in its 2-2 draw with Montreal Impact on Saturday afternoon.

Dallas found themselves two goals down thanks to a brace from its former striker Maxi Urruti who, to his credit, decided to forego his trademark goal celebration out of respect.

Then, with 83 minutes gone, Dallas’ current first-choice forward Zdenek “Kobra” Ondrasek nodded home a pinpoint cross from Reggie Cannon to halve the deficit with his second goal of the young season.

And finally, Ricardo Pepi – the club’s 26th Homegrown and one of its most hyped prospects – announced himself on the MLS stage with a 96th-minute equalizer to avoid a first defeat of the 2020 season. It was the 17-year-old’s first FC Dallas goal, and a timely one at that.

“I just wanted to come in the game, push the team, give them some energy and give them some emotions,” Pepi said after the game. “I felt like I did a great job and we caught up.”

Pepi has an indelible sense for the big occasion. He scored a hat trick on his pro debut last year in North Texas SC’s home-opener, the first of its kind in USL League One. He followed it up with four goals in his next five games before earning a first team contract.

So it’s no surprise Pepi’s first MLS goal completed a dramatic comeback to save a point for his side, and made him the 12th youngest scorer in league history. 

“Congrats to our young man, Ricardo,” Luchi Gonzalez said postgame. “Ricardo scored a very opportunistic goal just buzzing and mobile, active, hungry. He came into the game believing he could change the game and he did. Even without the ball he was pressing. He was closing down their goalkeeper, closing down their right center back, left center back, coming across the field, forcing them to play long and that helped us get back into the game.”

The goal itself was quintessential Pepi. A classic fox-in-the-box forward, the U.S. youth international was on-hand to rifle home Michael Barrios’ redirected cross from the edge of the six-yard box. A well-taken, instinctual finish into the bottom corner.  

“I saw Mikey when he crossed the ball and then Kobra flicked it and it was coming my way,” he said. “I just didn’t really think about it. I just shot it and it went in. Obviously, it’s more emotional than scoring with North Texas. It’s a bigger level, a higher level. It’s the first one but there’s more to come.”

Pepi, along with fellow Homegrown Tanner Tessmann, is just the most recent FC Dallas teenager to make his mark in MLS. But, knowing Pepi, there's a whole lot more to come.

“Obviously, I want to score more goals with FC Dallas,” he added. “I want to have more games, more starts, more minutes but I mean, we got to keep working hard.”