Home Sports MLS Footnotes: Jesús Ferreira is close to his World Cup dream

MLS Footnotes: Jesús Ferreira is close to his World Cup dream

by Atlanta Business Journal

By Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports Soccer Writer

Editor’s note: MLS Footnotes takes you inside the major talking points around the league and across American soccer.

Before the U.S. Men’s National Team met fellow World Cup entrant Morocco on June 1 in a tune-up for Qatar, FC Dallas forward Jesús Ferreira politely shot down any suggestion that his spot on the U.S. roster for the biggest event in sports was already locked up.

Three U.S. starts and four international goals later, Ferreira still isn’t taking anything for granted.

“I’m in the same boat — I don’t want to think ahead too much,” he told FOX Sports this week. “I want to stay present, keep working hard, getting minutes and providing goals and assists, and hopefully I can be on that roster at the end of the year.”

From Ferreira’s perspective, that’s the sensible approach. But the fact of the matter is that at this point, less than five months out from the Americans’ Nov. 21 opener against Wales, only an injury or a colossal drop in from would prevent the 21-year-old from making coach Gregg Berhalter’s 26-man World Cup squad.

No U.S. forward has been as consistent for club and country over the past year as Ferreira. He was a regular during the second half of qualifying. He was in Berhalter’s lineup in all but one of the national team’s four June games. On Wednesday, he scored his MLS-leading 10th goal of the season in Dallas’ 3-1 loss at LAFC:

With two dedicated U.S. strikers likely to make the cut for Qatar, there’s still room for another hot foot to claim the final spot in the months ahead. All eyes will be on the European-based contingent when seasons abroad resume in August, with Daryl Dike, Ricardo Pepi, Jordan Pefok, Josh Sargent and Haji Wright all still in the running to join Ferreira on the roster. He’ll be there, even if that reality hasn’t set in quite get.

“It would be a dream come true,” Ferreira said. “That’s the ultimate goal. That’s the tournament you want to be in. To represent my country at a World Cup, the biggest stage in soccer, would be an amazing feeling.”

FOOTNOTES

1. A Texas-sized rivalry

For FCD, the LAFC match and Monday’s Independence Day visit from Miami are sandwiched between games against in-state foes Austin FC and the Houston Dynamo.

Dallas played Austin to a 2-2 tie last weekend. They’ll travel to Houston on July 10.

With Austin sitting third in the Western Conference and the Dynamo below the playoff line yet again — Houston hasn’t made the playoffs since 2017 — has the former, just one year removed from its expansion season, already become the bigger Texas rival?

“Obviously it’s always been Houston and Dallas, but I think that every game that passes with Austin, the rivalry is building,” Ferreira said. Still, it’s young. The Dynamo have been FCD’s chief nemesis since they moved to Houston from San Jose in 2006 and hoisted the club’s first MLS Cup later that year on Dallas’ home field in suburban Frisco.

“Anytime we play Houston, we want to destroy them because we just hate them,” said Ferreira, who added that the animosity between the clubs extends to his days at the youth level. “I think Austin will be something like that, where young guys from the academy will learn that Austin is a rivalry game also.” 

2. Holiday slate

The NFL has Thanksgiving. New Year’s Day is associated with college football and, more recently, the NHL’s Winter Classic. The NBA has made Christmas its own.

July 4 has long been MLS’s go-to holiday, but with Independence Day falling on a Monday this year, July 3 actually boasts twice as many matches (eight) than the following day.

With only two games on tab this Saturday, 16 of the 28 MLS teams were in action Wednesday, with two more games (Charlotte-Austin, Red Bulls-Atlanta) scheduled for Thursday.

3. Morris making his case

Ferreira isn’t the only USMNT attacker in fine form at club level. Seattle’s Jordan Morris scored his third goal in four games for club and country in the Sounders’ 2-1 loss to Montreal on Wednesday:

Christian Roldan, whom Morris set up for a goal against Sporting Kansas City last week, has assisted on Morris’ past two strikes.

4. Third-time lucky?

For the third consecutive Olympic cycle, the U.S. will face Honduras with a spot in the Summer Games at stake. The previous two meetings were disastrous for the Americans. The under-23 national team lost to Los Catratchos in 2015, then to Colombia in a two-leg playoff in early 2016. Last year, the U-23s fell to Honduras just months before the rescheduled 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Because of a format change, the U.S. under-20 squad currently competing in the CONCACAF U-20 championship can qualify for the 2024 Games in Paris by beating Honduras in Friday’s semifinal (9 p.m. ET, FS1). With this game in San Pedro Sula, it could be the toughest of the three. 

Philadelphia Union playmaker Paxten Aaronson, the younger brother of USMNT standout Brenden Aaronson and one of 17 MLS players on coach Mikey Varas’ 20-player roster, scored both U.S. goals in Tuesday’s 2-0 quarterfinal victory over Costa Rica.

5. How will Chiellini fit in?

What a few days for LAFC. First, the club shocked the world by signing Wales captain and five-time UEFA Champions League winner Gareth Bale to a one-year contract. Then LAFC finally announced that Carlos Vela, whose contract extension was agreed to months ago, would remain a designated player in Los Angeles through at least 2023. And on Wednesday, Steve Cherundolo’s team formally introduced former Juventus and Italian National Team center back Giorgio Chiellini:

Chiellini was in the house to watch Wednesday’s victory. Both Bale and Chiellini are expected to have their International Transfer Certificates approved by FIFA before “El Trafico” against the Galaxy on July 8. It will be interesting to see if Cherundolo throws Chiellini right into the fray.

Chiellini, who turns 38 in August, hasn’t played since June 1. Will he be fit enough to start immediately? While Bale is likely to come off the bench in his first few games as he eases into his new environment, because center backs have to be ready to go from the first whistle, Chiellini won’t have that luxury.

6. Insigne must hit the ground running

Can Lorenzo Insigne‘s arrival turn Toronto FC‘s season around? Chiellini’s former Azzurri teammate was also introduced this week, and his arrival north of the border comes not a moment too soon: After losing at home to the Columbus Crew on Wednesday, TFC are now 2W-7L-1T in their past 10 outings.

Sean Zawadzki opened the scoring for the visitors with a pretty, long-range effort:

7. Brenner late than never 

FC Cincinnati forward Brenner was hailed as coup when the young Brazilian left Sao Paulo for southern Ohio before the 2021 season. But the 22-year-old struggled to adjust on and off the field last year, and he went the first 10 games of the 2022 campaign without scoring.

On Wednesday, Brenner finally broke out. Five days after netting the winner for Cincy over Orlando City, his first goal since October, Brenner exploded for a hat trick in a crazy 4-4 draw with defending MLS Cup champ New York City FC.

His second strike came on a bicycle kick, but his last one was probably the best of the lot:

One of the most prominent soccer journalists in North America, Doug McIntyre has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams in more than a dozen countries, including multiple FIFA World Cups. Before joining FOX Sports, the New York City native was a staff writer for Yahoo Sports and ESPN. 


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