Ricardo Pepi has highlighted being snubbed from the United States’ Olympic qualifying team as a key turning point in his career.
The US failed to make the games in Tokyo, finishing second in Group A but losing 2-1 to Honduras in the semi-finals.
Pepi was named to Jason Kreis’ initial roster, but it was Jesus Ferreira, Jonathan Lewis, Benji Michel, and Sebastian Soto who were the forwards to make the final group for the qualifying competition. All four of them failed to find the net. If anything, it could work out as a blessing in disguise, feeding Pepi’s appetite for goals.
“It just made me hungry,” the FC Dallas striker said on Friday (via ESPN). “It made me hungry to go on for the year. To do good for my club, do good for the national team and it was a turning point, for sure, in my career.”
As revealed by 90min, Pepi is the subject of intense transfer interest, with a number of clubs from across Europe chasing his signature. The teenage striker even handed in a transfer request to Dallas to try and move things along.
As of yet, there has been no movement. And for now, Pepi is focusing on this latest USMNT camp, where he’ll line up in a friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina in a friendly on Saturday – just his sixth cap since declaring for the United States over Mexico.
“That moment is not yet to be decided,” Pepi said of his future at club level. “I feel like I have a game here ahead of me and that’s my main focus at the moment. I feel like we [have] got to focus on the game and whatever happens is going to happen, but we’ve just got to be patient.”
In his breakthrough 2021 campaign, Pepi managed an impressive 13 goals and two assists in 24 starts for an FC Dallas side that finished way down in 11th in the overall standings. He’s carried that form through to international level scoring three goals and setting up another three so far.