Jesus Ferreira is in position to start as a forward for the United States Men’s National Team at the World Cup after a meteoric rise over the past year.
Ferreira is an MLS All-Star and one of the league leaders with 18 goals. The 21-year-old has scored five more times for the USMNT. He is arguably the most in-form striker in the country.
But while he’s a star in the making, he’s also now under a bigger microscope than he’s ever known as the World Cup approaches.
And that, Ferreira said, got him. As he pushes himself to develop, the pressure to perform at a high level exacerbates the mental health issues he says have plagued him for a long time.
“I’ve always had mood issues,” Ferreira admitted to reporters on Tuesday. “When certain things don’t go my way on the pitch or I’m wrong, I tend to stop. I knew that from the start.
“Obviously I have coaches who would help me with that and they would give me help, give me things that would help me move on quickly, but I knew I needed more. assistance.”
So, Ferreira’s agent put him in touch with a sports psychologist in an effort to calm some of his emotions.
The striker credits his sessions with the mental health professional with helping him through a difficult but ultimately life-changing year.
“I’m happy that he can come and help me where I need help and that’s one of the things that’s been really good,” he said. “Whenever I’m frustrated I can move on. I can move on faster when things aren’t going my way. I just think about positive things and make sure I think about having a good game. instead of my final product.”
It’s a deep progression for a player who is still growing. He needed to stop focusing so much on the little things and sometimes see the bigger picture. He has already accomplished incredible things and he is learning to step back and appreciate the work he has done. After all, he made himself an ideal candidate to start a World Cup.
As things stand, Ferreira is the favorite to lead the USMNT line in Qatar, the best fit for Gregg Berhalter’s system. But there are competitors.
There’s Ricardo Pepi, a longtime friend and teammate who Ferreira says brings out the best in him. There’s Josh Sargent, who is back in form at Norwich City after several years of decline. And there’s Jordan Pefok, who was left off the USMNT roster but is still very much in the game as he takes the Bundesliga by storm.
Ferreira, for his part, insists the competition is positive, not only with his close friend Pepi but also with the whole attacking group. He encourages his teammates to ‘leave’ for their respective clubs and ‘set records and score every weekend if possible’.
“We want to see each other succeed and I think that’s the best thing about this group: we have healthy relationships and healthy competition,” he added. “But, at the same time, we are going to compete for each other’s places.”
This competition could take place in the coming weeks. Strikers are traditionally judged on goals, and an incredible run of form could shake things up in a big way. Berhalter also clarified that the decision will also be made on the tactical adjustment – one of the reasons why Ferreira is in good form.
Ferreira, who has held up players like Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus as role models, knows his role in the USMNT system. He may not need to be the primary scorer, but he is responsible for helping create those goals through creativity or pressing. In Berhalter’s USMNT system, the striker may not be the one to put the ball in the back of the net, but he must play a role in getting it there.
Knowing that has helped Ferreira tremendously this year. A former No. 10 turned No. 9, Ferreira has had to adjust to being one of FC Dallas’ leading scorers, but he can also rely on the fact that he won’t be judged on goals alone. goals.
“I noticed it at the beginning of this year,” he said. “It was that there was a fair amount of games I went in without scoring and for me my goal was to score. A lot of that was a lot of pressure on myself, and I had to focus about clearing my mind and making sure I knew goals were coming.
“I had a group of friends, coaches and teammates who came up to me and made sure to let me know that I bring more to a team than just scoring and that’s what brought me working on my mental health.”
He added: “Before I think about the end product, I think about how a good game will lead me to have the end product, which is the goal. It has helped me tremendously in games where I have no idea of what I’m doing. I feel like I’m just focused on having a good game and having a positive result.
The positive outcome for all is a great run at the World Cup, but he still has some hurdles to overcome.
First, two friendlies this week, as the United States take on Japan and Saudi Arabia. The games are the last two for the USMNT before the roster is confirmed in November, and they are the last two for players to make their case at Berhalter in a national team jersey.
The rest of the persuasion will have to be done at club level. Currently third in the West, FC Dallas have big ambitions, with Ferreira’s form vital to their MLS Cup hopes.
There’s a lot on Ferreira’s plate. But Ferreira’s new skills allow him to feel more prepared than ever for the moments ahead, no matter what size stage he finds himself on.
“There are a lot of things I’ve worked on outside that have helped me be in this position, starting with my mental health,” he said. “It’s a big part of me that recognizes what I need to improve on the pitch and off the pitch.
“I’m just happy that it can help me grow as a football player, as a person, and I’m just excited to see what’s to come.”
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