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Ricardo Pepi is USMNT striker of the moment

This type of shyness could be worrisome for a coach, if it weren’t so easily, and so fiercely, versed on the pitch.

“In the locker room he was always around on his own,” said Francisco Molina, former FC Dallas recruiting director, who met Pepi when he was playing in the team’s youth system. “On the pitch, he was a loud, screaming, rebellious kid.”

The first thing Molina noticed about Pepi was his slender figure. (“Like a baby deer,” he said. ”) The second was his constant stream of goals: he could score them with his right or left foot, with his head, with his knees, shoulders and shins. . He can find almost any way to push the ball into the net.

“He has that instinct,” Molina said. “It’s a pure 9.”

These skills have aroused the interest of the best European clubs. Among those following Pepi’s development, there seems to be agreement that his next step should be careful and conscientious – a place on a good team in a mid-profile league, perhaps, or one on a mid-profile team in a superior league. .

“You have to go somewhere where you play right now,” said his US teammate Chris Richards, who made a similar move to Europe from FC Dallas at the age of 18, in an interview with the Transfermarkt website. last week. “Sometimes you get caught up in the big names, but it might not be the perfect situation.”

There also seems to be a consensus on where he could improve the most: playing back to goal. In these situations, Pepi prefers to hand the ball quickly to a teammate to get back into motion. He doesn’t yet seem so comfortable holding the ball and withstanding a physical challenge from a defender, the kind of break the best forwards need to master to give their teammates time to build a attack around them.

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