Of all the spots on the US men’s national team’s depth chart, the much-coveted No. 9 role remains the trickiest and has presented more questions than answers.
We thought maybe Ricardo Pepi would be the guy after his hype train produced a club-record $20 million transfer from FC Dallas to Germany's FC Augsburg. For a while, we thought the same of Josh Sargent spanning his time in the Bundesliga (Werder Bremen) and Premier League (Norwich City).
So, has Ferreira seized control of that spot? That’s the topic of some debate heading into the United States’ final match of World Cup qualifying at Costa Rica on Wednesday evening (9:05 pm ET | CBS Sports Network, Paramount +, Universo, Peacock).
Ferreira has, at the least, likely earned himself another look against the Ticos in what would be his ninth career international appearance.
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“He’s just such a smart player that he can do so much," Calen Carr said on the latest edition of Extratime presented by AT&T 5G. "He works hard, he fights, he’s not going to win balls necessarily, but he’s going to make it difficult so that he’s going to win the knockdown or put us in a better position to do it. His combination play where he tucks in underneath is good enough technically that he draws the center backs to drop a little bit deeper, which opens up space in behind.
"So he fits the system really well and when he’s gotten his chances, for the most part, he’s been able to take them, which is not something we can say about the nines in our pool right now.”
Meanwhile, on MLS Today, ESPN's Herculez Gomez has been impressed by a lot of what Ferreira brings, saying he’s the “best link-up nine there is.” But he’s not sold on Ferreira being the full-time No. 9, with this uptick in form evidenced by MLS Week 4 Player of the Week presented by Continental Tire honors following a hat trick vs. the Portland Timbers.
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“He’s got a very good soccer IQ. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. His father was a very good 10, just dicing people up, very good vision, soft feet. He’s got that about him, but he’s also got very good movement and he’s very good at finding danger,” Gomez said.
“What I mean about that is look at the hat trick he had against Portland. You can say he’s not a lion’s nine but a lot of those are a nine’s goals, his movement in the box, his finding the play and him taking players into space and the finishing ability. So if he’s getting chances as a nine at the club level and at the national team level, then at this point he’s your best link-up nine. I’ve been impressed with him, what he can do amidst everything. But I still don’t feel he’s the nine. And I don’t think he’s the nine either.”
The conversation also involves how to best get every component of the USMNT's ideal lineup on the pitch simultaneously. That conversation has seen head coach Gregg Berhalter flaunt some depth, but star players in midfield and the attack have been marred by injuries and suspension during Octagonal play.
One possible solution? Extratime's Andrew Wiebe said it contains the 21-year-old Ferreira in the striker spot with Dortmund midfielder and NYCFC academy product Giovanni Reyna beneath him.
"I’d like to see those two guys interchange and what that also means to Weston [McKennie] because we haven’t seen Weston now for a little while because of injury," Wiebe said. "We don’t know where he’ll be after this summer going into the fall, but it’s completely open."
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