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Ricardo Pepi scores in first FC Groningen start

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Ricardo Pepi moved to the Dutch Eredivisie from Augsburg hoping to find his form ahead of the World Cup, and the early indications are that the move is working out well for him.

Pepi scored his first goal in 11 months, delivering a goal in his first start for Dutch side Groningen in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Sparta Rotterdam.

The 19-year-old, on loan from FC Augsburg, started at striker for the first time since arriving in the Netherlands and scored a 61st-minute header. In his first appearance overall last week, Pepi notched an assist as a substitute in a 1-0 victory over Cambuur.

Saturday’s loss dropped Groningen to 12th in the Eredivisie standings with eight points earned after seven games.

USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter has given Pepi a further chance to fight for a 2022 World Cup roster spot by calling him into camp for September’s friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia. Pepi’s competition in camp includes former FC Dallas teammate Jesus Ferreira and Josh Sargent, who is enjoying strong form in the English Championship with Norwich City. The USMNT striker pool also features Jordan Pefok and Haji Wright, who are both left off the September USMT squad despite enjoying strong seasons for their clubs.

Pepi endured some difficult months with FC Augsburg since joining from FC Dallas in 2021, failing to score a goal after completing his $20 million transfer in January. Pepi made 16 total appearances for Augsburg before securing the loan move to the Netherlands at the close of the summer window.

If Pepi can continue scoring at this level, it certainly gives Berhalter something to think about. Time is running out, and Pepi’s performances in a USMNT shirt this month could make all the difference.

Comments

  1. I here you, Jonny. I like Pepi and he is a talented player, but he was even struggling when he was with FC Dallas. His last goal was against Jamaica until now. For example, he has had one goal to Pefok’s twenty-five + since then. Pefok is at a completely different level than Pepi right now.

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    • Pefok’s in a better situation for his skill set. Pefok has learned from his mistakes when he hung around at Rennes (Reims I get those two confused) too long. Pepi’s people made a mistake jumping to a relagation risk team in a top 5 league, where he didn’t replicate his 13 g MLS form immediately he wasn’t going to play much. Pefok found a team in Union that plays the way he excels, Pepi landed in a system far from what he’d known at FCD. Pefok is likely at his ceiling this is the best he’s going to get. Pepi is likely somewhere in his climb. Pepi looked far better for NT even during his cold club period than Pefok when he was red hot at YBs so it’s not as cut and dry as we’d like it to be. If we played a 2 CF midblock where Pefok could just sit around and poach in the box it would be a no brainer.

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      • Pefok is only 26 and playing for a first place side, Union Berlin, in the Bundesliga banging in goals and playing great. Who cares if he doesn’t press? The guy is a pure goal scorer. I am not saying he has to start but if the US needs a goal in the last 15 minutes, he needs to come in. Pepi has already struggled in the Bundesliga and now is playing for a 12th place FC Groningen side. I am not Knocking Groningen but Pepi is there for a reason, playing time. I really hope Pepi does well and can help the USMNT.

  2. Pepi’s problem was scoring outside the state of Texas. 85 % of his MLS goals his last year were scored in Texas. They showed a graphic in the 1st half of WCQ Jamaica home match, he then scored a brace the 2nd half in Q2 stadium ….wait for it…in Austin, Texas! 30 matches ago!

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  3. Hope this continues for Pepi. He still only 19 years old. I give Augsburg a lot praise for realizing that Pepi needed to go on loan. Keep putting the the ball in the back of the old onion bag!

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  4. Takes a lot of heart to come back from a streak like that lose out on an opportunity and transfer to a new club during a time when the world cup is starting and score like that and perform well that’s impressive. Well done kid

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  5. There seemed to be something off with the way he was slotting into Augsburg, and he definitely looked like he was flailing and not progressing. You wonder how welcomed he was in the locker room there at Augsburg, or how supportive the coaching staff was being, because my instinct was Pepi’s an ultra-earnest, try-hard guy who’ll run through a brick wall if he’s asked to and given even minimal encouragement…and when you see guys like that – especially really talented ones like Pepi – not flourishing it’s usually because no one bothered to give them any direction or support.

    One thing you see over and over again with teams near the bottom of tables is that they’re so busy trying to survive that they never seem to show any patience with young guys who need a minute to adjust. I think the rule of thumb is, if you’re a young guy – especially a young American who is never going to get the benefit of the doubt and is going to have a learning curve adjusting culturally – never, ever go to a team fighting relegation. (Well, unless that team is American-owned, like, say, Venezia.)

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    • Former USA mens national team Defender Michael Parkhurst had issues with that same coach at Augsburg. I feel like he is a coach that does not value American players. I also wished Michael Parkhurst would have had a talk with him to discourage him from foing to Augsburg.

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    • Several Americans players have commented on how different the vibe is in German locker rooms. No music, no joking around, very rigid. Maybe for a teenager from El Paso that was throwing him off.

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      • Come on!! If that throws him off, he has no business on the field.. We wasn’t playing because he couldn’t hit the side of a barn in MLS or abroad for one whole year.

      • PeterP: have you ever worked with high schoolers before? Imagine at 18 moving to a foreign country with a different language, different culture, vastly different climate and you are struggling to find connections with your teammates because everyone you know is thousand of miles away. I can’t imagine why he struggled.

      • I here you, Jonny. I like Pepi and he is a talented player, but he was even struggling when he was with FC Dallas. His last goal was against Jamaica until now. For example, he has had one goal to Pefok’s twenty-five + since then. Pefok is at a completely different level than Pepi right now.

      • “he was even struggling when he was with FC Dallas. His last goal was against Jamaica until now. For example, he has had one goal to Pefok’s twenty-five + since then. Pefok is at a completely different level than Pepi right now”

        Another way to look at that is that Pefok is hot right now, one month or so before decision day. But what are the chances he will stay hot for two months (including November when the WC will be played) ?

        And Pepi has been idle and cold for awhile . Now he’s moved, gotten a team better suited to him and has scored. If he takes off and goes bonkers what are the chances he stays hotter longer than Pefok?

        If it’s me I take Pefok, Pepi, and Sargent. I don’t trust Ferreira but he’ll almost certainly go.

        There are other places in the 26 where you can cut the fat (Ariolla, Long, Cannon ) and people forget that Josh can do a hell of a job in midfield if an emergency calls for it.

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