Ricardo Pepi got his second start for Augsburg on Saturday as the struggling Bundesliga side tried to keep up with the superior Bayer Leverkusen.
The young American is no stranger to a struggling team as FC Dallas lost 15 of its 34 games last season, but Pepi also hasn’t had to deal with a relegation battle. Saturday wasn’t an ideal second start for the club as Leverkusen thoroughly thumped the underdogs 5-1 and Pepi was taken off in the 57th minute.
Here’s the Pepi report as I tracked every move and involvement the striker had.
Every Pepi Involvement vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Minute 6: Pepi saw his best chance of the game as a cross came into the box and he couldnn’t get enough steam on the header to really threaten the goalkeeper. Pepi was muscling off a defender as the ball dropped into the box. Mr. Taylor Twellman commented that Pepi needed to do better with opportunities like this.
Minute 17: Pepi pass attempt is sloppy and Leverkusen regains possession.
Minute 22: Wins aerial battle at midfield.
Minute 23: Wins aerial battle at midfield.
Minute 24: Leverkusen scores to make it 2-0 and Pepi gives an exasperated sigh with his hands on his hips before having a conversation with strike partner Michael Gregoritsch.
Minute 26: One of Pepi’s best plays on the day as the American dribbles the ball toward Leverkusen’s penalty are and slips in a dangerous pass to Gregoritsch who then has his shot blocked. This was Augsburg’s best chance of the half.
Minute 30: Pepi links up well in a string of Augsburg passed that eventually results in a corner kick.
Minute 32: Wins aerial battle.
Minute 37: Pepi has a wayward first touch with relatively no pressure on him that goes out of bounds for a Leverkusen throw. The American raises his hand in apology but then gets a shove from a Leverkusen player for unknown reason. Pepi gives him a death glare and exchanges some words.
Minute 40: Some good pressing from Pepi sees him block a pass from a Leverkusen defender.
Minute 45: Pepi puts in some extra effort to chase down a loose ball from a free kick and makes two passes with a teammate.
First Half Stats: Several aerial duals won, 16 total touches and one attempt on goal.
Minute 47: Tries to hold up possession on edge of Leverkusen penalty area but ends up getting the ball taken away.
Minute 49: Pepi shows a burst of speed down the right wing and puts in a decent cross that his teammate Lasse Günther is unable to threaten Leverkusen with.
Minute 53: Pepi records a shot on goal after putting together a nice give and go with a teammate. The shot is a low curling effort that Leverkusen’s goalkeeper deals with rather easily.
Minute 57: Manager Markus Weinzierl pulls Pepi off for Florian Niederlechner. Damn it.
Taylor Twellman, who was commentating on the game, is a polarizing voice in U.S. Soccer, but his analysis of Pepi’s performance was spot on. Twellman warned American fans that it will be a real struggle for the 19-year-old to find scoring chances in Augsburg’s fight against relegation. Pepi won’t see many opportunities in front of goal and will need to capitalize on every chance he gets.
I’m sure the relationship between Weinzierl and USMNT fans will be full of drama every time he takes Pepi out of a game. At least the rumors that the manager peed on Pepi were false.
Pepi will head stateside for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Augsburg’s next Bundesliga game is on Feb. 5.