By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON, DC (Jun 30, 2023) US Soccer Players – With a hat-trick on Wednesday night against Saint Kitts and Nevis in St Louis, US men’s national team forward Jesus Ferreira reached double-digit goals in his international career. Ferreira now has 11 goals, to be exact, a number that places him in a tie for 13th most in the history of the USMNT. His 11 goals place him in a tie with his Gold Cup teammate Jordan Morris, as well as with Weston McKennie, Chris Wondolowski, Peter Vermes, and Brian Ching.
Ferreira also made some history with the second goal on the night against the Sugar Boyz of the Caribbean. It was the 10th of his USMNT career in his 20th international cap. No player in USMNT history reached double-digit goals faster than Ferreira. The previous record holder was 2002 World Cup star Clint Mathis, who scored the first 10 of his 12 international tallies in 23 games.
It’s not just goals that Ferreira has contributed in this Gold Cup on the attacking end of the field. On Saturday against Jamaica in Chicago, it was Ferreira that played the chipped ball to the back post that fell to Brandon Vazquez for the USMNT equalizer. Through two games, Ferreira has been directly involved in four of the seven American goals.
Like so many American internationals, Ferreira is missing important games with his MLS team to participate in Concacaf’s regional championship. The FC Dallas forward is among the league leaders in goals through the first half of the 2023 season with ten in 18 games, trailing Nashville’s SC Hany Mukhtar by three goals.
While Mukhtar is playing every game on Nashville’s schedule, Ferreira is leading the American charge to defend the USMNT’s Gold Cup title. Whatever impact the time away from FC Dallas will have on Ferreira’s 2023 goal total, there’s no debating Ferreira’s status as one of the best goalscorers on the continent.
The FC Dallas academy product elevated his goalscoring reputation in the 2022 MLS season when he scored 18 to finish tied for third in the race for the Golden Boot. With a second consecutive double-digit goalscoring season on his record, the 22-year-old seems primed for many more for both club and country.
In the modern game, forwards are rarely just goalscorers. Playing at the front of the formation can mean carrying the weight of putting the ball in the net, but it also demands players can play with the ball at their feet and press to recover when possession is with the opponent. Ferreira’s multi-faceted game makes him an ideal player for the USMNT’s system, according to Callaghan.
“It starts with his ability to lead our line against the ball,” Callaghan said, reiterating Ferreira’s value on both the offensive and defensive sides of the game. “Right even in the beginning you saw him almost steal the ball in the first 30 seconds of the game. He’s a relentless player who’s got a great feel for the game, can come down and link up, make these little darting runs in behind the back line.”
All of that was in evidence on Wednesday in St. Louis. Ferreira touched the ball just 24 times in 54 minutes on the field, but he made the most of those moments both as a finisher and facilitator. Despite his hat trick haul of goals, Ferreira saw the game through the lens of a quality team effort.
“As a forward you always want to score goals. To be able to do it here at the national team level with my teammates, it’s amazing,” he said. “We always want to see each other succeed, and whenever we can combine and score goals, which is the most important thing, we enjoy it fully.”
Taking on the pressure of scoring goals is not new for Ferreira. When his FC Dallas and USMNT teammate Ricardo Pepi transferred to Europe after the 2021 season, Ferreira morphed from a chance creator into FC Dallas’s chief goalscoring threat in 2022. That experience and his response to the challenge elevated him into the national team picture.
Thanks to the opening match draw against Jamaica, the United States needed goals against Saint Kitts and Nevis. Thanks to Ferreira, they got them. Djordje Mihailovic and Bryan Reynolds added goals to the total and players across the US lineup can claim some credit for the American output in St. Louis.
“We knew what we had to do,” Ferreira said. “We knew that we had to come out there and be sharp, be on the same page, and get goals. The whole team knew we had an ultimate goal at the end and this game was going to get us closer to that goal.”
A group stage match against an opponent the USMNT should defeat comfortably is a necessary step on the quest for a second trophy this summer, but it’s just a step. The Americans take their next stride toward a championship on Sunday when they take on Trinidad and Tobago in Charlotte. The USMNT heads into the final group stage match tied on four points with Jamaica, but holding a +6 goal difference advantage over the Reggae Boys.
“Obviously we look at the ultimate goal. Each game is going to get a step closer. We knew this game was going to get us there a little closer,” Ferreira concluded. “We know we have to take care of business in the next game so we can play the second part of the tournament, which is the knockout stages. The team is focused. Now we go back, focus on recovery, focus on what the next plan is, and just be ready for the next opportunity.”
As the key man in the attack for the USMNT through two games in the 2023 Gold Cup, it’s a safe assumption that the next plan will involve Ferreira.
Jason Davis is the host of The United States of Soccer on SiriusXM.
More From Jason Davis:
- Preview: Saint Kitts and Nevis vs USMNT, 2023 Gold Cup group A
- Preview: The USMNT’s group A opponents at the 2023 Gold Cup
- Five USMNT players move from the Nations League win to defending the Gold Cup
- Vermes puts Sporting Kansas City’s focus on belief
Photo by Daniel Bartel – ISIPhotos.com