USMNT

Ricardo Pepi pledges international allegiance to USMNT over Mexico

Lizzy Becherano
Ricardo Pepi during the 2021 MLS All-Star Game - Skills Challenge
Ricardo Pepi during the 2021 MLS All-Star Game - Skills Challenge / Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
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Ricardo Pepi made his official decision to join the United States men’s national team after heavy speculation that the FC Dallas player would be part of Mexico’s roster for the World Cup qualifiers in the fall. 

The forward took to Twitter to explain his choice, explaining how his Mexican-American background affected his thought process throughout the last couple of months. 

“I grew up in a unique part of the USA. Living in El Paso and having my family in Ciudad Juarez meant every week I would cross the border to visit friends and family. I have grown up always immersed in my Mexican heritage. I love everything about my culture, my people, my food and I am very proud to be Mexican-American,” he wrote. 

“It’s something that will never be taken away from me, no matter what national team I play for."

After acknowledging his Mexican background, Pepi explained the United States shaped him and his soccer career. 

“At the same time, I was born and raised in the USA. This country has given my family a home, and endless possibilities to achieve my dreams. It has supported me, it has lifted me up and it has shown me when you work hard you will be rewarded. I am very proud to be called up to help the USMNT qualify for the 2022 World Cup. this means the world to me,” Pepi noted. "What better way to help them by hopefully one day lifting up a World Cup? I feel warmly welcomed and I can’t wait to show that I deserve to be here."

Beyond the country, he credited USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter and his constant contact as the reason for his decision. 

“I spoke with Gregg, not just last month. He constantly followed up with me and called me twice after that. He showed me that I am special and I want to show him that I am ready for this moment.”

The FC Dallas talent can still choose to switch to Mexico under the new FIFA rule exempting players from a binding contract if a player competes in three games or less. 

Despite the new open-ended ways, Pepi made sure to state that his decision is final. 

"I said that when I made this decision it would be with the heart," Pepi remarked. "It’s been made with the heart. If I put that jersey on, I am fighting for it until I can’t fight anymore. So yes, I am ready to play."

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