To be a quality No. 9, timing is so important. And FC Dallas forward Jesus Ferreira might not have picked a better time to score his first career hat trick than Saturday night’s 4-1 win over the Portland Timbers at Toyota Stadium.
That’s because the goals, scored during a 10-minute span in the first half – the fastest hat trick in club history – come just ahead of the international break, when Ferreira joins the US men’s national team's 27-man roster for the upcoming final three Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers. Estadio Azteca and rival Mexico are the first stop on March 24 as the region's three automatic Qatar 2022 spots get locked in.
“I think it's it's great timing for him,” said USMNT teammate and winger Paul Arriola, whose first FC Dallas goal – a second-half dagger – was assisted by Ferreira. “It's great timing for the club and it's great timing for a country to be able to go into this camp with the game that he did.”
Ferreira hadn’t scored for club or country since Oct. 30, 2021 and admitted he was beginning to put some pressure on himself after not finding the scoresheet in FC Dallas’ first three matches of the 2022 season.
"I had a little bit of stress on me because I wanted to be able to be that No. 9 that is always scoring no matter what game it is, whether it's away or home,” Ferreira said. “But my teammates and coaching staff, especially Nico [Estevez] and Peter [Luccin], made it very clear that they believed in me and that once the first goal went in, many more were going to come.”
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They came in bunches Saturday night, and they came in a variety of ways – ranging from a well-worked buildup that finished with a powerful shot off the underside of the crossbar following an Arriola dummy on Alan Velasco's service, to a snapped header in the box and a precision effort for his third.
"I want to be that player that can be in any position and be able to score so like you said – the header, the shot, and just the tap-ins – those are the best goals that you can score as the nine," Ferreira said. "I'm excited that I can score in different ways and that I can help the team win.”
The 21-year-old is the second-youngest American to score an MLS hat trick behind former teammate Ricardo Pepi, whose role he took over when Pepi made his reported $20 million move to Germany's FC Augsburg in the offseason. Pepi was 18 when he bagged three goals last year vs. the LA Galaxy.
“I was not worried when Jesús would end up scoring. It was just a matter of time," Estevez said. "He would have chances in the previous games played, and he just had to be more accurate in the final product. There were three goals that he could have scored by now based on his chances in the past few games, but he scored them today.
"I am happy for him, especially with his work rate, his knowledge of the game, and what he offers to the team. He did have an assist today in the match so we have to acknowledge that as well. It is important that he keeps playing and continues playing the way he's been doing it. The goals will come over time.”
Ferreira said the hat trick, which helped FC Dallas secure a second straight home victory over a Western Conference foe, was a “boost of confidence.” Over the offseason, the homegrown forward signed a Young Designated Player deal to stay with the club.
“Being the No. 9, being the target, scoring goals is the most important thing,” Ferreira said. “When I score goals, it gives me a little bit of confidence and I’m excited.”