With Ricardo Pepi joining FC Augsburg this winter in a club-record move, much of FC Dallas' attacking load in 2022 will fall on the shoulders of another one of their highly-touted homegrown players.

That would be 21-year-old academy product Jesus Ferreira, who is coming off a breakout MLS season where he recorded eight goals and nine assists across 27 games, establishing himself as one of the league's premier young talents. His performances produced a greater US men's national team role, with seven caps and a growing World Cup Qualifying impact, as well as a new Young Designated Player contract with FC Dallas that he inked in mid-January.

And the new season comes with a new role for Ferreira, beyond being tasked with helping fill the void Pepi's transfer to the German Bundesliga created. Throughout preseason camp, first-year head coach Nicolas Estevez has deployed Ferreira up top after spending last season predominately in a deeper-lying role as a No. 10.

"It's a bit different what coach Nico wants me to do," Ferreira told reporters on Thursday's MLS is Back media call. "Last year I was playing as a 10 and now he wants me to play higher up as a 9. So I have to change my mentality to I don't have to provide that last pass anymore, I have to be in that position to receive that last pass and score the goals. That's the most important thing, the 9 needs to score goals to help the team win and that's what I'm getting from coach and the staff, is just that I have to be in the right position at the right time to score goals and get the team on the right foot."

FCD's other main option at striker is another DP, 33-year-old Argentine Franco Jara. He joined in 2020 from Liga MX's Pachuca and has produced decent results in MLS, with 14 goals and two assists across 48 regular-season matches (28 starts).

That depth and quality gives Estevez options, with Ferreira introducing a different profile that perhaps draws on how his father, 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira, approached the game. He's now sporting the No. 10, too, a fitting change for the Colombian-American.

"He has played scrimmages and in training as a 9. I think the first game that he played, he scored three goals," Estevez said of Ferreira. "The last game he didn't score but he was helping us create goal-scoring opportunities, and we just needed the last pass. But he was around the penalty box in good positions to score but the ball didn't arrive in a good [position], which is something we have improved. But I'm seeing him adapting well. He now has to balance his coming and dropping and helping in the build-up with attacking the penalty box."

Ferreira's evolving role is complemented by FCD reinvesting money from Pepi's transfer into the final third. That mainly manifests in fellow attackers Paul Arriola and Alan Velasco, with the former arriving in an MLS-record trade from D.C. United (at least $2 million in General Allocation Money) and the latter secured on a club-record fee from Independiente (reported around $7 million).

All the while, Estevez is making his first foray into MLS head coaching after being an assistant for the USMNT and Columbus Crew, working with Gregg Berhalter at both stops. He also plied his trade in La Liga, coaching in Valencia's youth development system.

The new faces and coaching staff have made for a preseason of adaptation, but Ferreira believes the various pieces leave them poised to rebound after missing the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in 2021.

"We're learning the new system with coach Nico's new staff, so we're getting used to all of that, myself and the whole team," he said. "But then with the new arrivals, we've got Paul who has a lot of experience in the league, especially with the national team. So he's going to help a lot of the young guys because we have a young team. That's going to be important that he's a leader inside and outside the field. We also have Marco [Farfan] who's going to help us a little more on the defensive side, so we've got pieces all over the field, forwards, midfielders and defenders. Our team is looking good for 2022."

Heading into the new campaign, Ferreira is booming with confidence and has the security of being a pillar of FCD's future.

"Having a positive last season, with goals and assists, improving my [numbers] every year, it gives me a bit more confidence," Ferreira said. "Now, especially with a new contract, getting a little bit more playing time with the national team, it all ties together. It just shows that I'm working hard on the field and we're going to keep doing that just so we can get more of everything."