After scoring two more goals to help spearhead his team's wild 5-3 Heineken Rivalry Week victory over Austin FC at Q2 Stadium on Sunday, FC Dallas forward Ricardo Pepi has taken MLS Player of the Week honors for Week 22 of the 2021 season.
The homegrown standout continued his breakout campaign, striking for both goals in a four-minute span in the first half as part of FC Dallas' five-goal barrage that delivered Luchi Gonzalez's group a crucial three points as they look to climb back above the playoff line in the Western Conference. It was part of a dynamic showing from Pepi and his fellow homegrown standout Jesus Ferreira, who struck for a brace of his own to account for two of FC Dallas' additional goals, with Jader Obrian adding the other.
With the contest tied at 1-1 after Ferreira and Austin FC's Julio Cascante swapped early goals, Pepi struck for his first in the 36th minute after teammate Szabolcs Schon got free down the right flank and delivered a cross into the box, which Pepi collected before lashing home a clinical finish past Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver.
GOAL: Ricardo Pepi, FC Dallas - 36th minute
After Ferreira scored just two minutes later to make it 3-1, Pepi continued the first-half onslaught on 40 minutes, capping off a counterattack by smashing a near-post finish past Stuver and into the net.
GOAL: Ricardo Pepi, FC Dallas - 40th minute
Obrian made it 5-1 with a 53rd-minute goal to effectively put the contest to bed, although Austin did pull two back through Diego Fagundez and Alex Ring, only to see the comeback bid fall short as FC Dallas saw out the 5-3 final.
With the pair of goals, Pepi is now up to 11 goals on the season in 21 appearances (16 starts). The 18-year-old is also coming off a successful appearance at the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, which saw him score the game-winning penalty kick to lead the MLS team over their Liga MX counterparts. Adding to a memorable week, Pepi was called up to the US men's national team for the first time for their three fixtures to start the final round of World Cup Qualifying.
The MLS Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season through both media and fan voting in a process conducted by MLS Communications. A panel of journalists from the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) comprises 75 percent of the vote, while a Twitter fan vote represents the remaining 25 percent of the vote. NASR consists of members of print, television, radio and online media.