United States men's national team striker Ricardo Pepi got his much-anticipated debut abroad on Saturday, playing for new club Augsburg against fellow American Chris Richards and Hoffenheim. The 18-year-old Texas native joined the relegation contenders last week from FC Dallas in a surprise move after being courted by much bigger clubs like Ajax and Borussia Dortmund.
The match started off well with Augsburg taking the lead in the early moments, but they found themselves down 2-1 at the half, with Pepi coming on as a second-half substitute to try and help rescue a point. In the end, he wasn't nearly enough, and his teammates did him no favors in a 3-1 loss. Here's a look at his performance:
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- 30 minutes played
- Nine touches
- Four pass attempts
- 100 percent pass completion
- Zero chances created
- One shot
- 0.10 xG
Analysis: The fact that he had just nine touches in 30 minutes tells you everything you need to know.. He wasn't near the ball much, rarely got the chance to make something happen, and when his teammates needed to get him more involved, they couldn't.
- Energy: It only counts for so much, and it does not translate into results, but in playing his first game in nearly a month, he looked fit, he looked energetic, and you could really see how those long strides allowed him to make up ground.
- Movement: The movement was very good from the young talent, especially inside the box. He continually put himself in optimal position to receive balls to his feet, get on the end of a header or just find space for a shot. One example, outside of the box, was this one where the left back was tucked in, allowing him to streak down the field. It really felt like an equalizer would be coming if he got the ball, but unfortunately the pass did not come soon enough, ruining what could have been a great look:
- Passing: He only had to make four passes but did not misplace one, and he always looked confident in his passing.
- Just one shot: Did not get a decent look on frame with his only shot being blocked, but he hardly even saw the ball to even be able to make the impact that he needed. A frustrating outing.
- Positioning: I'll never question his effort, and what he can contribute defensively has its benefits, be it heading away on a defensive corner, applying pressure in attack or even getting stuck in a tackle in the middle of the pitch. But as you will see below, only one of his touches came within 30 yards of goal, which was his lone blocked shot. Needing a goal when he came on, would it not be preferable to have him stay high and try and stretch out the defense? He can drop back and help create quite well, but this is a team that had 10 shots and was able to create some danger, having only three fewer shots than a better Hoffenheim.
Augsburg return to action at home on Sunday, Jan. 16 against Eintracht Frankfurt.