American forward Pepi makes Bundesliga debut for Augsburg

Augsburg’s new US forward Ricardo Pepi, left, is substituted during the Bundesliga soccer match between TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and FC Augsburg in Sinsheim, Germany, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. (Uwe Anspach/dpa via AP)

SINSHEIM, Germany (AP) — American forward Ricardo Pepi made his Bundesliga debut for Augsburg in a 3-1 loss at Hoffenheim on Saturday.

The 18-year-old Pepi, who joined Augsburg from Major League Soccer’s Dallas on Monday, came on in the 60th minute with his new team already 2-1 down.

Augsburg coach Markus Weinzierl introduced Florian Niederlechner at the same time as Pepi, and the two forwards provided an immediate boost for the visitors. Pepi sent Niederlechner through late on, but his teammate’s cross was cleared before the offside flag was raised.

Hoffenheim coach Sebastian Hoeneß reacted with two defensive changes as his team responded with counterattacks. Hoffenheim defender David Raum finally settled the issue in injury time.

Augsburg dropped into the relegation zone with the defeat.

“We had a couple of chances to come away with a least a point, but our opponents also played well,” Pepi was quoted as saying by Augsburg. “The half an hour of game time I got did me some good. I got a good feeling for the team and for the league, too. The team and everyone at the club have helped me feel welcome.”

Augsburg reportedly agreed to pay more than 13 million euros ($14.8 million) plus potential add-ons for Pepi, which would be the highest amount for a transfer of a homegrown American player from MLS. He signed a 4 1/2-season contract that includes an option to extend through the 2026-27 season with the German club.

Pepi made his MLS debut in 2019. He had 13 goals in 31 league games for Dallas last season.

Pepi made his U.S. debut in September and has three goals in seven internationals.

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