Well, it is official.
FC Dallas have transferred homegrown and US men’s national team forward Ricardo Pepi to German Bundesliga side FC Augsburg, it was announced Monday morning by the German side.
The record move sees Pepi join through June 2026 with an additional option year, all via a $20 million fee plus add-ons. That would make Pepi the most expensive outgoing homegrown player from Major League Soccer, at least upfront after Vancouver Whitecaps FC transferred Alphonso Davies to Bayern Munich in 2018.
The move constitutes a club-record transfer for FC Dallas.
“We are proud of what Ricardo Pepi has accomplished during his time in our organization,” said FC Dallas President Dan Hunt in a club-issued press release. “He truly represents the FC Dallas pathway: coming from our affiliate in El Paso, playing in the Academy, becoming the first signing in the history of North Texas SC and then making his debut with the first team. We’re happy for Ricardo and his family and look forward to watching him realize his dream of playing in one of the most prestigious leagues in the world.”
Pepi becomes the latest FC Dallas Homegrown player after defender Bryan Reynolds (AS Roma), midfielder Tanner Tessmann (Venezia), and defender Reggie Cannon (Boavista) moved to top European leagues in recent transfer windows.
“This is an important move for FC Dallas, Ricardo and Major League Soccer,” said FC Dallas Technical Director Andre Zanotta. “He represents what is possible in the FC Dallas Academy system and for soccer players in the United States. This transfer shows our commitment to developing talent and helping them achieve their professional goals.”
Our thoughts on Pepi’s move
On one hand, we hate to see the young guy go. But I am thankful we got to see his progression from the academy to North Texas, to the first team, and then to the national team like we did. It certainly should be something to celebrate as fans of the club that he was indeed something special.
As Zanotta put it, this is a very important move for the club and the league. Yes, that is partly due to the large transfer fee but mostly due to how Pepi came along from the club’s academy system (he started with a club affiliate in El Paso before moving to Frisco) to a second team, to a first team, and then the national team. It is the type of progression for a young player that the club and the league want to see happen more often.
On the other hand, I love this move for him as long as he is able to get minutes quickly and produce like he was during 2021. Augsburg is currently in a relegation battle and if Pepi can help that team avoid that this season and find a way to produce a solid amount of goals (say six to nine goals), stay in the national team picture for Qatar, then this move will be an absolute success.
What it means for FC Dallas
Yeah, so this is going to be the big one. Based on the rules that the league has set up, FC Dallas can keep the entire transfer sum since Pepi was a Homegrown player. That money has to be put back into the club either as allocation money for roster moves or into the operations of the team itself. So, yes, on paper $20 million is a lot of money for the club to do a lot of good.
I think the operational part of the money will be spent well on the academy since that is the bread and butter and a reason why this move was doable in the first place. Finding that next Pepi, Cannon, Reynolds, Tessmann, etc, is huge and a big ask right now of the club. But this money will help make it more likely.
On the field, that allocation money that they’ll be able to use could go a long way into paying down some salaries even more for this season to help go out and get some new players to fill all of those open roster spots.
It is going to take some time though but with two transfer windows this calendar year on the horizon, the club has plenty of chances to really do some drastic things to their roster. It is time for Zanotta to step up and show his worth though with this money. No more big swings and misses, the time is now to make things happen.