Last Friday, Ricardo Pepi (age 20) made his triumphant return to the USMNT by scoring a brace against Grenada — his first international goals dating back to October 2021, a drought that ultimately cost him a place on the World Cup roster.
Then, on Sunday, little brother Diego Pepi (age 17) made his competitive debut with North Texas SC in MLS NEXT Pro. Diego entered the match as an 84th-minute substitute in North Texas' 1-0 victory over LAFC2 in Fullerton, California.
The hero of the game, however, was 16-year-old North Texas goalkeeper Julian Eyestone. He saved a 90th-minute penalty to preserve all three points for the visitors.
Nothing to see here, just a 16-year-old calling game in his 2nd ever professional appearance.Remember the name: Julian Eyestone @MLSNEXTPRO | @eyestone_tx pic.twitter.com/HeqseKlIUC
— North Texas SC (@northtexasSC) March 27, 2023
Diego is following in Ricardo's footsteps by playing for FC Dallas' reserve team. Ricardo was actually North Texas SC's first-ever signing at the age of 15. He spent the 2019 campaign primarily with the club in USL League One, where he scored nine goals in 13 games and was a finalist for the USL Young Player of the Year award.
By 2020, Ricardo was playing regularly for FC Dallas in MLS and remarkably just one year away from his breakthrough with the USMNT and a $20 million move to FC Augsburg in the Bundesliga.
Obviously Diego's rise hasn't been quite as meteoric, but it looks like he's set to play regularly for NTXSC this season after previously playing in the ECNL.
Diego Pepi wearing No. 16, the same number his older brother wore for FC Dallas https://t.co/oun9Ghaa9L— Garrett Melcer (@GarrettMelcer) March 27, 2023
Ricardo is back in action tonight as the USMNT hosts El Salvador in Nations League play at Exploria Stadium; Diego and NTXSC play LA Galaxy II on Sunday at Dignity Health Sports Park.