Jesus Ferreira: USMNT strikers sending message before World Cup

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With the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar just over two months away, strikers in the US men’s national team player pool can’t stop scoring – including Jesus Ferreira.

The FC Dallas star scored his team’s third goal in a 3-0 win at Minnesota United FC on Saturday afternoon, a near-post header off Sebastian Lletget’s cross. The Young Designated Player was also on the doorstep for Michael Boxall’s own goal that started the visitors’ second-half blitz.

And in the 21-year-old’s eyes, this surge from No. 9s in MLS and abroad is putting healthy pressure on USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter as their decisive September camp – with Europe-based friendlies against Japan (Sept. 23) and Saudi Arabia (Sept. 27) – rapidly approaches before Group B play begins in November.

“The guys know we have a lot of No. 9s who can score and it was just a matter of time before it started really rolling,” Ferreira told postgame. “I’m happy my teammates are scoring elsewhere and this is what it’s all about.”

GOAL: Jesús Ferreira, FC Dallas – 58th minute

Goals galore

Ferreira, with 16 goals and five assists, is MLS’s top domestic scorer this year – sitting one helper ahead of FC Cincinnati’s Brandon Vazquez (16 goals, four assists) through Week 29. The 2022 MLS All-Star has four goals in his last four games.

Overseas, Josh Sargent is reborn with five goals in five games for Norwich City in England’s Championship. Jordan Pefok has hit the ground running at German Bundesliga side Union Berlin following his transfer from Swiss side Young Boys, and Haji Wright remains ever-dangerous for Antalyaspor in Turkey’s Süper Lig. Perhaps former FC Dallas star Ricardo Pepi, who just got a loan from BuLi side Augsburg to the Eredivisie’s Groningen, can rediscover his scoring touch as well.

Berhalter, who told Extratime’s Andrew Wiebe there’s “no chance” all six strikers will be called into the program’s final pre-World Cup camp, has some tough decisions to make.

“We’re making it difficult for Coach Gregg to pick his strikers and that friendly competition is one where everyone else wants to see everyone succeed,” Ferreira said. “I’m happy I’m scoring and I’m happy my teammate are too. This is something we always want to see and the world is noticing the US has strikers with quality who can score.”

Dallas going “warrior” mode

Ferreira has already doubled his previous season-high in goals (eight in 2019 and ‘21), moving him closer to a benchmark he established back in preseason. He’s also four off the MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi pace, giving him markers to chase.

“Little things like that are always in the back of my mind,” Ferreira said. “I want to keep pushing because I know I have more in me. Twenty goals was the goal at the start of the season and I’m very close now. I’m just happy my teammates are putting me in that position to finish plays and to help the team win.”

It’s not all about the personal, though, as Ferreira’s leading role helped Dallas leapfrog Minnesota into third place in the Western Conference table. With four games left, they’re nearing an Audi MLS Cup Playoffs return under first-year head coach Nico Estevez, a former USMNT assistant whose system is quite close to Berhalter’s.

“The team has one goal in mind and it’s to get a home playoff game,” Ferreira said. “So we’re climbing and know each game from now on is not going to be a soccer game but it’s going to be a war.

“Everyone is going to be a warrior on the field because we need those three points no matter what,” he continued. “The team is on the same page, the coaching staff is on the same page. Everyone is on the same page, so I’m excited of what’s to come and we know the team’s going to perform at the highest level.”

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“Today was for her”

Ferreira’s keeping an eye on the bigger picture as well, at least off the field. He celebrated his goal at Minnesota with a special captain’s armband that honored Brynn Moore, a young girl who recently passed away from cancer (Ewing’s sarcoma).

The moment came during the league’s ninth annual Kick Childhood Cancer campaign, which sees MLS and Continental Tire again teaming up to support Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

“Brynn was a little girl with a lot of dreams and she came into our lives, I want to say 2019, 2020,” Ferreira said. “She signed a contract with us and we had her at a few practices and a few games. She’s a little girl that was always smiling, always happy.

“She passed away this year and so we want to remember her, her smile and that personality she had. She was always happy and ready to play soccer. We love her and wanted to show our appreciation to her and how much we love her, all on the field. Today was for her.”

WATCH: FC Dallas blitz Minnesota United for 3-0 road win

Jesus Ferreira: USMNT strikers sending message before World Cup

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