Pepi truly broke out in 2021 for FC Dallas, earning MLS Young Player of the Year and US Soccer Young Male Player of the Year honors, plus the top spot in MLSsoccer.com’s 22 Under 22 presented by BODYARMOR list. It was the byproduct of 13 goals and three assists in 31 MLS appearances, as well as three goals and three assists in six World Cup qualifying matches for the USMNT.
So let’s take a trip down memory lane, revisiting some of the best moments Pepi logged in Major League Soccer.
All-Star Game PK clincher
Pepi, a dual national, grew up in El Paso watching Liga MX. Just competing in the first-ever MLS All-Star Game presented by Target that pitted MLS' best players against those from Mexico's top flight was special enough.
And then Pepi proved his mettle by calmly converting the winning PK under the bright lights of LAFC's Banc of California Stadium.
Historic hat trick vs. LA Galaxy
Pepi’s first MLS hat trick was historic and meaningful. At 18 years and 196 days, he became the youngest player in MLS history to score three times in a game, breaking the record set by Kekuta Manneh in 2013 at age 18 and 283 days.
Late playoff equalizer vs. Portland
Pepi’s first MLS goal was a late equalizer against CF Montrèal early in the 2020 season, but he truly made noise via the tying goal deep into stoppage time of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs against the Portland Timbers.
Pepi also converted his attempt in the ensuing penalty shootout to complete the Round One upset at Providence Park.
Winner vs. New England
It was yet another moment where the young forward raised his national profile – and his second goal was special as he sliced through the Revs defense, showcasing pull-away speed and patience on the game-winning strike.
Brace in eight-goal thriller vs. Austin FC
Another Pepi brace came in a wild 5-3 Heineken Rivalry Week victory over Austin FC at Q2 Stadium in late August, striking for both goals during a four-minute span in the first half as part of FC Dallas' five-goal barrage.
That earned Pepi MLS Player of the Week honors for Week 22 of the 2021 season.