When FC Dallas signed Colombian midfielder David Ferreira on loan from South American partner Clube Atletico Paranaense in March, few who followed FCD knew much about the 5-foot-5 playmaker.
Admittedly, it took Ferreira a little time to adjust to the rigors of playing in MLS but his numbers speak for themselves: eight goals and seven assists, having played in all 28 league games this season. Ferreira has also delivered when his team has needed him the most as three of his seven assists have been game winners. His recent run of form has certainly put him in contention for MLS Newcomer of the Year.
The versatile 30-year-old who has played both attacking midfielder and as a second striker this year for FCD, said his transition was rough at first.
"It was really hard at the beginning," Ferreira said. "I wasn't producing the way that I wanted. It took a couple of months but thanks to my teammates and coaching staff for never giving up on me. I never gave up on myself. I was able to adjust to the speed and physicality of the league."
FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman, who brought Ferreira to his club, is not surprised at the results he has delivered.
"It's really what we expected. As soon as you come to this league, it's a fast-paced, physical league," the FCD coach said. "If you're athletic, you're going to survive. If you're not athletic and you're technical, then you better be damn good. When he came into this league and he didn't come in as a forward, he came in as a midfielder."
Hyndman continues to be impressed by Ferreira's considerable skill.
"He goes deep into the midfield and picks up balls. A lot of the tackles that are put on him don't really lead to anything. I give him all the credit in the world for not backing down and fighting hard," Hyndman said. "I think it's normal for coaches to talk about their players and be biased, but I've got to believe that he is one of the best players in the league right now who is having the greatest influence."
And he doesn't hesitate to give Ferreira a lot of the credit for helping FCD become the top scoring team in MLS.
"We're a team that has scored more goals than everybody else in the league. He's scoring goals and is assisting as a second striker and attacking midfielder," Hyndman said. "He's giving great balls. I've been very pleased with him. I thought the first couple months were an adjustment. He and I had many conversations, we had a lot of lunches where we would sit down and talk about this and this. I think in all fairness to him, he had an adjustment and all that but he also realizes the responsibility that is on him and he's really stepping up."
Ferreira's most recent goal came last Wednesday night at San Jose and it triggered a unique goal celebration. He pulled a small banner from his pocket, which was a shout out to Lisa, a longtime friend.
"She is a friend of the family and I promised her that when I scored a goal, I would celebrate," he said. "That's why I pulled out that little banner and got that goal for her."
Along with fellow newcomer Dave van den Bergh, who leads the team with 10 assists, Ferreira is the only member of FCD to play in every game this year.
"It takes some time getting adjusted to a new league and it took us some time getting used to him because he's coming from a totally different style of soccer and that's not necessarily played all that much here in this league," van den Bergh said. "We both changed a little bit and the results speak for themselves."
FCD forward Jeff Cunningham, who leads MLS with 17 goals and has gotten his share of great feeds from Ferreira, would definitely like to see his teammate bring home top newcomer honors.
"He's very deserving of it," Cunningham said. "Any time a teammate wins any award, it's always a good accomplishment for the entire team because football, you can't do it by yourself. Any time an individual team member wins an award, it's important for us and the whole organization takes pride in it. I would love to see him win it. He's very deserving of it. He's adapted well to the league and worn the No. 10 jersey well. I hope he wins it. He doesn't get as much publicity as some of the bigger markets but he's as deserving of it as anyone for all the team performances recently."
And Ferreira admits earning that distinction would be a nice bonus.
"It will be an honor if I can win that award," he said. "I understand all the pressure that I was under when I first got here from the fans and everyone but I never doubted myself. I thank my family, coaching staff, teammates and God that I have been having a great year lately. Hopefully I can win it. It would be a thank you for the coaches and everyone who has supported me to prove this is why you guys brought me here, because I can produce."
Steve Hunt is a contributor to MLSnet.com