USMNT striker Jesus Ferreira lauds the competition between him and Ricardo Pepi
USMNT striker Jesus Ferreira praises the competition between him and Ricardo Pepi as the FC Dallas striker appears to be in the driver’s seat for the No. 9 role ahead of the September friendlies
USMNT striker Jesus Ferreira has praised the ‘healthy battles’ between him and ex-teammate Ricardo Pepi as the pair compete for the team’s starting No. 9 role ahead of the World Cup.
Pepi was left out of the squad in June, but Ferreira is pleased to have the former FC Dallas forward back in the squad for friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia.
‘I’m glad I can compete with a man who gets the best’ [out] mine,” Ferreira told reporters on Tuesday.
Jesus Ferreira celebrates scoring a goal against Los Angeles FC for FC Dallas
“I’m glad he’s back in scoring form. For me in the competitive side I want to push him to do the best he can, and I want him to push me to do the best I can. We have a healthy relationship, a healthy fight in some way for the position.
“When I get to camp, I want to see him perform.”
Pepi started eight of the USMNT’s 14 World Cup qualifiers, scoring three goals and, at one point, appearing to be the frontrunner to start at the front for the team in Qatar.
Ricardo Pepi (center), seen with Ferreira (left), is back in the USMNT squad after a tough year
But the 19-year-old lost momentum when he went nearly a year without a club goal after moving to Augsburg, while Ferreira got the go-ahead in recent friendlies and now looks like the favorite for the No. 9 spot.
Ferreira is having by far his best season in the MLS, with 18 goals and five assists so far, while Josh Sargent is also entering the camp in good form for Norwich and Pepi recently broke his drought on loan for Groningen.
“We have great competition between us,” Ferreira said of the other strikers.
“Of course I want my teammates to score in their leagues.”
Ferreria also said he works with a sports psychologist.
The Dallas striker has sometimes been criticized for finishing at the national team level, but this year has added more finished product on top of the other parts of his game that coach Gregg Berhalter admires so much.
‘Working with a’ [sports psychologist] helped me understand that in games I need to focus more on having a good touch, making sure my press is good, making sure my runs are good, making sure I can come down and help my first touch to get to build-out,’ he said.
“Just make sure I have a good game before I think about the final product. Thinking about having a good game will lead me to the final product that is the goal.