Halftime of the 2021 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target produced encouraging news for US men’s national team fans, with FS1’s Stuart Holden reporting that FC Dallas forward Ricardo Pepi will be on the Yanks’ roster for September’s World Cup Qualifiers.
The 18-year-old El Paso, Texas, native’s international future has been the subject of great debate, as he’s also eligible to represent Mexico. He’s featured extensively for both nations’ youth national teams, and has been heavily recruited by the Concacaf rivals ahead of his senior-team debut.
Holden cautioned that it’s not an ironclad situation, though the homegrown goalscorer is trending toward being a No. 9 for the USMNT.
“A huge moment for the young man that has been red-hot for FC Dallas, nine goals for them this season,” Holden said. “And does it mean he’s cap-tied? No, that's a little bit tricky. He’s under 21 years old, it starts to get nuanced because of FIFA’s rules. Even if he was to play in all three qualifiers, that would not officially cap-tie him to the US men’s national team.
“But we can confirm he’s on that roster. It sounds like he will be heading into camp. What does that mean? Has he officially committed? We’ll have to wait and hear that from him himself, but all signs are certainly pointing there and a very big get it would seem for the US men’s national team.”
Earlier this week, Pepi told MLSsoccer.com’s Charles Boehm that he felt “just stuck in the middle” of an international tug-of-war. But with Holden’s report and the USMNT roster set to drop Thursday, Pepi is nearing a resolution.
The USMNT will open their Octagonal campaign on Sept. 2 at El Salvador, then host Canada on Sept. 5 in Nashville before closing with a Sept. 8 game at Honduras.