At long last, Ricardo Pepi is off the mark in Europe.
After recording his first assist since leaving FC Dallas in January last week, the 19-year-old finally got on the scoresheet, netting FC Groningen’s only goal in a 2-1 defeat away at Sparta Rotterdam on Saturday.
It’s Pepi’s first goal in European soccer, breaking an overall drought dating back to September 30, 2021, when he scored for Dallas against Sporting Kansas City. Saturday’s strike marks the end of a great week for Pepi, who was also recalled to the United States Men’s National Team for upcoming friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia in preparation for the 2022 World Cup.
Pepi is spending the 2022/23 season on loan at Eredivisie side Groningen from Bundesliga outfit Augsburg, who paid $20m for the teenager back in January.
Sources told 90min at the time of his loan that there’s no option to make the transfer permanent, with Augsburg very much still invested in Pepi’s future development. From a personal perspective, the player is hoping to use the loan to make Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT roster for the World Cup.
“I am hungry for goals and I want to help the team,” Pepi told Groningen’s official website upon arrival at the club. “Groningen is a beautiful club in the Netherlands where young players are given the opportunity to develop. There are many great players that played here in their younger days.”
Pepi was subbed out just three minutes after scoring with his side 1-0 up, but Groningen collapsed and conceded two late goals in Pepi’s absence. The 2-1 defeat leaves the Pride of the North 11th in the Eredivisie table, with eight points from seven games so far.
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