Jesus Ferreira – FC Dallas – Hold-up play
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FC Dallas' Jesus Ferreira: A lesson in making most of your opportunity

FRISCO, Texas – Jesus Ferreira admits that heading into this season, he didn’t envision himself in the FC Dallas starting XI.

“I didn’t think I was going to be able to start this year with (Dominique) Badji and [Zdenek Ondrasek also at forward], players that can hold up in the nine position,” Ferreira told after training on Tuesday. 

However, now that Ferreira, 18, has started four consecutive matches for FCD and has two goals and two assists to show for his efforts, the son of 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira is benefitting from the increased confidence he’s gained from becoming a consistent starter.

“Yeah, I’m scoring, I’m assisting, I’m making plays, so I think that helps my confidence,” Ferreira said. “When I look back at the games, I’m like, ‘I really did that.’ Then I can go out there and play my game.”

Ferreira’s opportunity arose as Badji, who had an assist in Dallas’ 1-1 season-opening draw against the New England Revolution on March 2, has missed three consecutive matches with a hamstring injury.

Ondrasek, who the club signed in December using Targeted Allocation Money (TAM), has come off the bench three times in recent weeks, but the veteran forward from the Czech Republic has yet to crack the starting XI.

So, Ferreira has capitalized on his first chance to consistently start in MLS, a rapid ascension which has impressed first-year Dallas coach Luchi Gonzalez, who also previously coached him in the academy.

“Jesus is adapting every day, every week. We’re trying to work on timing, positioning and helping us in our build, be a reference as a nine in our build play,” Gonzalez said. “Then once we break [into] midfield or get into the attacking third, can he get unmarked? Can he get into zones to get on the end of service and crosses? And then, if there’s a moment he needs to do something on his own, he’s showing that he can. Again, [he’s taking] steps. He’s continuing to learn and trying to be dangerous for this team.”

Badji trained Tuesday morning, but left the session early, making his status for this Saturday's trip to Atlanta United FC (4 pm ET | ESPN, MLS LIVE on DAZN in Canada) uncertain at best.

Regardless, Ferreira, who signed with FCD as a Homegrown Player in November 2016, will continue adhering to a simple mentality, a formula which has served him well thus far in 2019.

“[The coaches] always tell us that no spot’s secure, so I just have to go out there on the training pitch and prove to them that I deserve that spot,” Ferreira said. 

Of course, it also helps Ferreira’s confidence that Gonzalez employs a system he's quite familiar with.

“Yeah, I think everybody enjoys the system that he’s putting out there,” Ferreira said. “Everybody likes what he’s doing. We believe in him.”