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This 18-year-old may hold the key to America’s World Cup hopes


This 18-year-old may hold the key to America’s World Cup hopes.

This kind of shyness could be worrisome for a coach if it weren’t so easily and fiercely poured out on the field.

“In the locker room I was always in the corner by myself,” said Francisco Molina, the former scouting director for FC Dallas, who met Pepi when he played in the team’s youth system. “In the field, he was a rebellious, loud and screaming child.”

The first thing Molina de Pepi noticed was her slim body. (“Like a baby deer, he said”). The second was his constant stream of goals: he could score them with his right foot or left foot, with his head, with his knees, shoulders and shins. You can find almost any way to push the ball into the net.

“He has that instinct,” Molina said. “It’s a pure 9.”

These skills have attracted the interest of the best clubs in Europe. Among those who follow Pepi’s development, there seems to be agreement that his next step should be careful and conscientious: a place on a good team in a medium-profile league, perhaps, or one on a medium-profile team in a league. higher.

“You have to go somewhere you play right away,” said his US teammate Chris Richards, who did a movement similar to Europe from FC Dallas at age 18, said in an interview with the Transfermarkt website last week. “Sometimes you get caught up in the big names, but it might not be the perfect situation.”

There also seems to be consensus on the area where he could improve the most: playing with his back to goal. In those situations, Pepi prefers to leave the fastball to a teammate to get moving again.

He still doesn’t look as comfortable holding the ball and resisting a physical challenge from a defender, the kind of pause that top forwards must master to give their teammates time to build an attack around them.


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