FRISCO, Texas – It’s been a big week for FC Dallas Homegrown Ricardo Pepi.
The teenager earned MLS Player of the Week honors after scoring three goals in Dallas’ 4-0 victory over LA Galaxy on Saturday—becoming the youngest player to score a hat trick in league history.
Two days later, he signed a new five-year contract with FC Dallas. Pepi is now fulfilling the enormous promise he's always shown throughout his five years with the organization.
“It feels great, I’m just excited to get this new opportunity,” Pepi told FCDallas.com. “I want to thank the club for having that confidence in me. And to my coaches, my teammates, it wouldn’t be possible without them.
“It makes me feel comfortable to have that connection with the team. I know that the team trusts me. I trust them and they trust me, so it’s great for both of us. I’m very comfortable here and I’m ready to get to work.”
There’s no doubt that Pepi earned his improved deal. The El Paso native is currently the fifth-leading scorer in MLS with eight goals from just nine starts—good for the third-best Goal Per Minute ratio in the league. He’s also the highest-scoring American and has twice as many goals as any other MLS teenager.
“We still had a couple years with Pepi in his previous deal, but with his performances, he deserved to get a better contract,” said FC Dallas Technical Director André Zanotta. “And for our protection as well, the way he’s playing is driving a lot of interest from European clubs, so we felt it was a good moment and I’m glad we did it.
“He’s only 18 so Pepi’s ceiling is really, really high. He’s just so talented and I’m happy and excited to have a player like that in our team. And I know our fans really appreciate him, too.”
Pepi’s potential has always stood out. As a 12-year-old, he impressed former FCD Academy Director and current Head Coach Luchi Gonzalez at a camp in El Paso, so much so that he was brought to the Academy in Frisco a year later. At age 15, he signed his first pro contract with FCD’s second team North Texas SC, becoming the USL League One side’s first-ever player. Six months and a few goals after that, FC Dallas made Pepi its 26th Homegrown player.
But Pepi isn’t just about potential any more. He’s delivering in MLS, and his goals and new contract are proof of that.
“I’ve been through every step of FC Dallas,” Pepi said. “I’ve been in the Academy, second team and my dream has always been to become a professional soccer players and I’ve worked hard for it. I’ve put my effort and my time into it. If you really want something, it’s going to happen.
“I’ve always been working for moments like this. I’m not satisfied with where I am. I want to keep going and I want more. Hopefully, at the end of the season, I’m the top goal scorer in the whole league.”