FC Dallas has signed 16-year-old striker Ricardo Pepi to a Homegrown MLS contract. Pepi has 7 goals in 6 games for FCD’s USL League One side North Texas SC and was the front runner for USL-1 MVP and Young Player of the Year over the first half of the season.
Pepi was already under contract to the organization through North Texas but in order to join the MLS side and play in MLS regular-season games, he had to sign a Homegrown contract directly with FC Dallas.
FCD gave Pepi a start with their MLS side last Wednesday in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup against OKC Energy and is expected to do so again this week against New Mexico United in the Cup. But the Open Cup has looser roster rules that allow for the rostering of players from feeder/developmental clubs and North Texas isn’t allowed to take part for this very reason.
This Homegrown contract won’t preclude Pepi from rejoining North Texas if FCD so desires as he could easily be loaned back down like Dante Sealy. But in order to play in MLS regular-season games – even just one – a Homegrown contract is required.
Coach Luchi Gonzalez had previously indicated signing a player from North Texas during the season would only happen if the player was ready to contribute to the first team. Pepi’s performances for North Texas and for FCD in the Open Cup was obviously enough to convince Coach Gonzalez the young striker was ready for MLS action.
The Pepi signing might also point to potentially a striker departing, particularly with the foreseeable return of the long-injured Cristian Colman at the same position.
Pepi recently obtained his US citizenship and is eligible to play for both the US and Mexico on the international level. So far he has stuck with the United States, most recently playing with the U17 side in the Concacaf U17 Championship falling to Mexico in the final.