MARIETTA, Ga. — Jesus Ferreira is one of the many players participating in the 2018 MLS Homegrown Game presented by Energizer (Tuesday, 8 pm ET | UDN, Twitter) that is still looking to make his mark in MLS.
Ferreira has played just 12 minutes in MLS since signing with FC Dallas in preparation for the 2017 season. Since then, he has helped his club win the 2017 Dallas Cup Supergroup, becoming only the second US-based side to win the prestigious tournament since 1986, and participated with FCD's Under-19 Development Academy team.
But that last step toward becoming a regular in MLS is often the most challenging for a young player.
"It was kind of difficult because I had surgery," he said. "It was kind of just getting back in rhythm, getting back in the team and getting back into practice [so head coach] Oscar [Pareja] can still have me in mind for the 18."
The 17-year-old underwent a successful core muscle repair procedure on March 19 that sidelined him for four-to-five weeks. He made his only MLS appearance of the season on July 14 against the Chicago Fire. Before that, he made five appearances in USL with the Tulsa Roughnecks.
Blocking his pathway toward becoming a regular in Pareja's 18 as an attacker are Roland Lamah, Michael Barrios, Tesho Akindele, Santiago Mosquera and fellow Homegrown Paxton Pomykal. In addition, Dallas added new No. 10 Pablo Aranguiz last week.
"We have phenomenal players," he said. "I feel like during the week I have to show Oscar that I should be in the 18 and that he should keep me in mind for the game. [I have to] work hard during the week and prove that I can be in the 18."
One potential reason for Ferreira to be excited is the addition of a USL team to the club's structure. MLSsoccer.com's Sam Stejskal reported in May that the club is prepared to field a team in USL Division III in 2019.
"I feel that the USL [team] is going to help a lot, especially for FC Dallas [since] we have a lot of Homegrowns and a lot of players that don't get that much playing time," he said. "So I feel that's going to help a lot to get fitness, to get more chemistry between the players also. I feel that's going to help catch Oscar's eye."