ORLANDO, Fla. — Jesus Ferreira finished 2020 with one goal and one assist. He surpassed those totals in his first game of the new year — a development he is hoping marks the start of bigger and better things to come for both club and country.
The U.S. Men’s National Team demolished Trinidad & Tobago, 7-0, in the teams’ first friendly of 2021 on Sunday, and Ferreira was the standout performer. The striker was directly involved in five of the Americans’ tallies at Exploria Stadium, bagging a brace to open his international account and delivering a hat-trick of assists in the rout.
The performance was a welcome change of pace and “a step forward” for Ferreira after a challenging season with FC Dallas last year that saw his output in the final third diminish greatly.
“We can’t control what happens at the club level. We really can’t,” said USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter. “For us, it is still having faith in a player, believing in a player, and we were excited to get him back into camp this January. We tried to call him in December but Dallas was still playing (in the MLS playoffs) so we could not do that.
“He gives us a lot of options, a lot of flexibility and we really like how he performs for us at the forward position.”
Ferreira certainly did that on Sunday.
The 20-year-old attacker shone brightly for the USMNT vs. Trinidad & Tobago, setting up the opening goal after just two minutes and then scoring his first international goal in the ninth. Ferreira finished the game with two goals and three assists in a 64-minute performance that should raise his confidence ahead of the upcoming MLS campaign.
“Obviously 2020 was a tough year for me, only scoring one goal in the league,” said Ferreira. “Obviously, (I was) kind of upset, but I did not take that as a slowing down year. I took it as a you have to do better.”
That Ferreira performed so well operating as a false nine will add to the case that that is his best position. He has bounced around a number of different spots in the attack during his four seasons with FC Dallas, raising questions as to where he best fits.
For Berhalter and the USMNT, there is only one answer.
“We have always seen the talent as a No. 9, who can link up the team by dropping in,” said Berhalter. “If you remember last year in January camp against Costa Rica, he did an excellent job of that. We created a number of chances because of him dropping in the midfield. … We saw that tonight again.
“We are really pleased with his performance. What we talked to him about today was arriving in the penalty box and he certainly did that. To me, it was a complete performance and he deserved the Man of the Match (award).”
The hope from all parties now is that Ferreira can take this confidence booster into the rest of 2021. Not only does the USMNT have Concacaf Nations League and World Cup Qualifiers coming up, but the Under-23 side has Olympic qualifying on the agenda as well. Ferreira is likely to a play some part in that.
His national team stock received a major boost on Sunday, and now it will be up to Ferreira to carry that momentum into the rest of 2021, for both club and country.
“Today was a step forward,” said Ferreira.