Football Americana

Ricardo Pepi describes choosing USMNT over Mexico as 'best decision I made'

Lizzy Becherano
Ricardo Pepi during his second game for the USMNT against Jamaica: 2022 World Cup Qualifying
Ricardo Pepi during his second game for the USMNT against Jamaica: 2022 World Cup Qualifying / Omar Vega/GettyImages

FC Dallas breakout star Ricardo Pepi has spoken on his decision to commit to the United States over Mexico, admitting that while the process wasn’t easy, it felt right in the end. 

The forward was born to Mexican parents in El Paso, Texas, making him eligible for either national team in the eyes of FIFA. Given his talent, Pepi knew one day he would be forced to commit to one of two countries.

He experienced his first taste of international football at the age of 15 after being called up by both Mexico and the United States to feature for their Under-16 team, recalling the journey on the most recent episode of 90min’s newest podcast Football Americana

“I was thinking about, when I first got called up to my first Mexico national team call up, I was 15 years old. Then, three months later, I got called to the first U-16 national team for the U.S.," he said.

"That’s when I was talking to my parents, 'Which one am I going to choose?' I was a little too young to even decide about the first team.” 

When the moment finally came to choose. Pepi admitted it was not easy nor did it come naturally, but he couldn’t deny the world of opportunities ahead of him. 

“That decision was made in a span of...honestly, it was two or three years," he explained. "Then that decision was hard. It was a very hard decision, but I feel like I had a great opportunity to make it to the World Cup qualifiers. 

"I feel like the U.S, was trusting me and my game to be able to go out on that field and do the best I can. I feel like I was in a very good moment, and I could help other teams. That decision was made just talking to my parents, talking to my agent. I felt like it was the best decision I made.”

Ricardo Pepi
Pepi scored on his senior USMNT debut in September / Brad Smith/ISI Photos/GettyImages

On September 8, the forward made his sensational USMNT debut against Honduras, recording his first goal in the 75th minute and immersing himself in every crucial play. 

Pepi then went on to feature in his second qualifier against Jamaica, scoring the only two goals of the match to hand the United States the victory and make his talents known. 

A sudden fan favorite and household name, Ricardo Pepi is on the fast-track to become a staple for Gregg Berhalter on the USMNT roster. As the road to Qatar 2022 continues, Pepi could be the assent the U.S. men’s national team needs.

Read more: Ricardo Pepi names Real Madrid as his 'dream' club