Reports earlier this week confirmed that Jesus Ferreira will become a designated player for FC Dallas starting with the 2022 season, but after Ricardo Pepi’s sale to Europe and the entrance of new coach Nico Estevez, Ferreira’s position for 2022 is up in the air. This week, we’ll look at the three most likely spots for Jesus.
Second striker/Attacking midfielder
Since Ferreira broke into the first team back in 2019, this has been his most common position. Ferreira started 2019 playing as the striker up top, but as the season continued, Luchi Gonzalez shifted Ferreira into more of a second striker or attacking midfielder role, allowing him to drop into midfield to pick up the ball and make plays. In the second half of 2019 and throughout the bizarre 2020 season, Ferreira’s play in this position was decidedly mixed. In some games, he would look like a top level playmaker while going almost totally absent in other games. But in 2021, after returning from injury that kept him out of the early part of the season, Ferreira finally put all the pieces together in this position and was arguably the team’s MVP with 8 goals and 9 assists. Only a handful of DP’s in 2021 could boast better goal contribution numbers than Ferreira and it was his play from this position that earned him this designated player contract going forward.
So, with all that context in mind, why are we even talking about this? Clearly this is his best position going forward, right? Well, two things muddy those waters. The first is the recent sale of Ricardo Pepi to FC Augsburg, leaving a gaping hole at the number 9 spot. The second is the hiring of new manager Nico Estevez. Estevez comes over from being an assistant under Gregg Berhalter and the US National Team and, based on that, his preferred formation would be a 4-3-3 that does not have an attacking midfielder or second striker position similar to where Ferreira played in 2021. Of course, preseason has not even started and Estevez himself has mentioned to the press that he doesn’t want to commit to a rigid system and wants to adapt to his players, but with a clear gap at the 9 and a clear preferred system from the manager, it increases the likelihood that Jesus will play somewhere different than where he turned up in 2021.
If a new striker is not brought in during the transfer window, this is probably Ferreira’s most likely landing spot in this team, at least to start 2022. Ferreira played striker for the first half of 2019 in his first real season in MLS and put up solid numbers but never really looked fully comfortable there. Ferreira does not play as a traditional number 9 but likes to play as a false 9, often dropping into midfield to pick up the ball and make plays. If the staff does choose to play Ferreira as the 9, they will likely afford him a lot of positional freedom as opposed to asking him to always be in the box to finish chances. An interesting option may be to use Ferreira in the 9 spot for 60-70 minutes before bringing in Franco Jara to play the 9 and shifting Ferreira back into his second striker/attacking midfield position to try to generate more chances at the end of games, especially if FCD is chasing the game.
If FCD does move Ferreira to this spot, this would open up a midfield position, likely to allow Paxton Pomykal to move back into his preferred central role instead of the wing spot he played throughout 2021. I think I can speak for a lot of fans and pundits when I say that this would be fantastic to see. Personally, I would like to see Ferreira moved to this spot and given a shot here, at least in the first half of the season. If things don’t seem to be working, FCD can pursue a new striker and look for where Ferreira may be a better fit on the pitch.
This is probably the least likely spot to see Ferreira play a lot of minutes. Most of Ferreira’s time spent playing on the wing with FCD has come in situations where the team is chasing the game late and has made a lot of attacking subs, moving Ferreira out to the wing to accommodate other forwards being brought onto the field. He did notably play on the wing in the most recent USMNT match against Bosnia and didn’t look uncomfortable or out of place there but it is pretty clearly not where he is necessarily at his best. Ferreira is not slow by any means but his game is not that of a typical winger where he will beat someone with a quick move and pace and get a cross into the box. If he does end up playing here he will likely play as a “false wing” and be allowed a lot of positional freedom to come inside and combine with his teammates there. I do suspect we will see some of Ferreira playing on the wing in 2022 but, barring injuries, I’ll be massively surprised if this ends up being his primary position this coming season. I suspect Szabolcs Schon and Jader Obrian, along with at least one new signing, to take the bulk of the minutes on the wings in 2022.
Where do you think Jesus Ferreira will line up when the 2022 season opens up in about a month and a half? Let me know in the comments below!
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