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FC Dallas Academy Product Ricardo Pepi Named MLS Young Player of the Year

November 18, 2021 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - FC Dallas News Release

FRISCO, Texas - FC Dallas and Major League Soccer today announced FC Dallas forward Ricardo Pepi as the 2021 MLS Young Player of the Year after the 18-year-old burst onto the scene with breakout campaigns for both club and country.

A product of the prolific FC Dallas Academy, Pepi led FC Dallas with 13 goals and three assists this season. Pepi's standout performances included his first MLS hat trick at 18 years and 196 days old, the youngest player to score a hat trick in FC Dallas and MLS history, as well as a pair of braces, against the Supporters' Shield winners New England Revolution on June 27 and against in-state rival Austin FC on Aug. 29. In addition, Pepi's 13 goals this season ties the all-time single-season MLS record for most goals scored by a teenager as he became only the second teenager to score 10 or more goals in a single season.

In addition to his record-setting regular season, Pepi earned two MLS Player of the Week honors and was named to the 2021 MLS All-Star team, in which he scored the game-winning penalty kick, clinching an MLS All-Stars victory over the LIGA MX All-Stars, 3-2 on penalties.

Building on his success for FC Dallas, the El Paso native earned multiple call-ups to the U.S. Men's National Team for Concacaf World Cup Qualifying, notching the go-ahead goal and dishing out two assists against Honduras on Sept. 8 in his debut at only 18 years and 242 years old and recording a brace against Jamaica on Oct. 7. He became the second-youngest U.S. Men's National Team player to score in a World Cup Qualifier and the second youngest player to make his senior team debut behind Christian Pulisic.

The Young Player of the Year award honors the top player in the league age 22 and under. Players born on, or before, Jan. 1,1999 were eligible for selection. Pepi joins former FC Dallas forward Tesho Akindele and fellow Texas-native and National Hall of Fame Finalist Clint Dempsey in earning the award, previously known as Rookie of the Year.

The Young Player of the Year award was voted on by MLS club technical staff, media and current MLS players. Below is a breakdown of the voting results, with Pepi edging out Supporters' Shield winner and New England Revolution's Tajon Buchanan.

Voting Results


Pepi, Ricardo (DAL) 22.90% 36.40% 59.10% 39.47%

Buchanan, Tajon (NE) 31.30% 42.40% 19.70% 31.13%

Araujo, Julian (LA) 3.10% 3.00% 3.40% 3.17%

Dike, Daryl (ORL) 3.60% 3.00% 1.00% 2.53%

Barco, Ezequiel (ATL) 3.60% 0.00% 3.40% 2.33%

MLS Young Player of the Year / Rookie of the Year Winners

Young Player of the Year

2021: Ricardo Pepi - FC Dallas

2020: Diego Rossi - Los Angeles Football Club

Rookie of the Year

2019: Andre Shinyashiki - Colorado Rapids

2018: Corey Baird - Real Salt Lake

2017: Julian Gressel - Atlanta United

2016: Jordan Morris - Seattle Sounders FC

2015: Cyle Larin - Orlando City SC

2014: Tesho Akindele - FC Dallas

2013: Dillon Powers - Colorado Rapids

2012: Austin Berry - Chicago Fire

2011: C.J. Sapong - Sporting Kansas City

2010: Andy Najar - D.C. United

2009: Omar Gonzalez - LA Galaxy

2008: Sean Franklin - LA Galaxy

2007: Maurice Edu - Toronto FC

2006: Jonathan Bornstein - Chivas USA

2005: Michael Parkhurst - New England Revolution

2004: Clint Dempsey - New England Revolution

2003: Damani Ralph - Chicago Fire

2002: Kyle Martino - Columbus Crew

2001: Rodrigo Faria - MetroStars

2000: Carlos Bocanegra - Chicago Fire

1999: Jay Heaps - Miami Fusion

1998: Ben Olsen - D.C. United

1997: Mike Duhaney - Tampa Bay Mutiny

1996: Steve Ralston - Tampa Bay Mutiny

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