Ricardo Pepi is honored to have received a call up to the MLS All-Star squad which will face a LIGA MX side on August 25.
The FC Dallas forward has been in sensational form this season, scoring eight goals in total, and Bob Bradley – who will coach the All-Stars – rewarded the 18-year-old with a call up.
Pepi’s first focus will be on Saturday’s Texas derby with Austin FC, but he is delighted to have been picked to represent the league.
“It’s an honor to be called up to the All-Star Game,” said Pepi, who became the youngest player in MLS history to score a hat-trick when he netted three times against LA Galaxy last month.
“I wasn’t expecting it because we were watching video and preparing for the next game. It was a special moment from my family, teammates and coaches to surprise me in the locker room. I have made some big steps this season so I’m very excited and I’m happy to go to the All-Star Game.”
Pepi’s form has helped Dallas to a three-match unbeaten streak which sees them sit in ninth in the West, two points and places above Austin, who beat fellow Texas team Houston Dynamo 3-2 on Wednesday.
“It would be arrogant to say we thought we were going to win the game, but we feel good about each game we’re going into,” coach Josh Wolff said.
“We know what the opponent was going to be about. We knew it was a derby. Intensity, morale, mentality were things we talked about the last two days. These guys have great mentality. They come in, they play, we compete, and we haven’t gotten the results we wanted.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
FC Dallas – Ricardo Pepi
Pepi has scored seven goals in his last four home matches, scoring at least once in all four matches in that span.
Austin FC – Tomas Pochettino
Tomas Pochettino scored two goals against Houston on Wednesday after not scoring in any of his first 13 appearances this season.
KEY OPTA FACTS
·Pochettino is the second Austin player to score twice in a match after Cecilio Domínguez scored a brace against Colorado in late April.
·The only FC Dallas player in the last 10 years with a longer home scoring streak than Pepi was Zdenek Ondrasek, who scored in six straight home matches from August 2019 to March 2020.
·Dallas has lost only two of 20 home matches against expansion teams in the club’s MLS history (W15 D3), though one of those losses came at the hands of Nashville last season. The other home defeat for FC Dallas against an expansion side was against Chicago in 1998.
·Dallas has lost only one of its last 31 home matches dating back to May 2019 (W17 D13), though that one defeat came to expansion Nashville SC last August. Dallas is unbeaten in 17 straight at home since that defeat (W9 D8), tied for the second-longest home unbeaten run in club history behind a 21 game run from August 2015 to September 2016 (including playoffs).
·Austin ended a three-match goalless run with a3-2 win over Houston on Wednesday. Ten of Austin’s 13 goals have been scored in three matches (W3) while they’ve netted just three times in their other 13 matches (W1 D4 L8).