Jesus Ferreira (right) celebrates one of his goals with Paul Arriola. (Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports)

By Michael Lewis Editor

U.S. men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter won’t have to make a decision for some five months on who his striker will be for the World Cup.

On Friday night, Jesus Ferreira put his best foot forward in an effort to convince Berhalter.

The FC Dallas forward struck for four goals to boost the Americans to a 5-0 triumph over Grenada in the team’s opening match of the Concacaf Nations League at Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas.

“I think I’m in a good spot,” Ferreira told ESPN. “I have people around me that support me every game, every day and know what I’m able to do. I’m just going to keep working on my game, not focus on the goals because I know that will come just having a good game will do the job.”

Ferreira, the MLS’s leading goal-scorer, entered the match with three international goals before his explosion against the 170th-ranked team in the world. He connected for a 13-minute hat-trick to break the game open.

He became the fourth USMNT player to score four goals in a game, joining an elite group that includes Archie Stark, Aldo “Buff” Donelli, Joe-Max Moore and Landon Donovan.

“I said in the beginning that I wanted to focus on having a good game, getting my touch better, making runs and playing for the team,” Ferreira said. “I wasn’t in too much focusing on the goals, I wanted to focus on my gameplay and having a good game. I knew that the goals were going to come.”

Needless to say, Berhalter was quite satisfied with Ferreira’s performance.

“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “We talk all along about it’s not just goals for Jesus, it’s everything else he does. There’s a certain validation that you get as a striker when you do hit the back of the et for tonight. I’m really happy for him.”

During a first half in which Ferreira missed several excellent chances, the 21-year-old forward finally found the net in the 43rd minute. Paul Arriola had his shot knocked away. The ball went to Ferreira, who slotted it home from the right side of the box past goalkeeper Jason Belfon for a 1-0 lead.

The damn broke for the USA and Ferreira in the second half.

After sending a header over the crossbar in the 49th minute, Ferreira took center stage again and again.

Luca de la Torre set up Arriola, who fed Ferreira, who scored from the penalty spot in the 54th minute.

Only two minutes later, he made it a three-goal bulge. This time Kellyn Acosta sent a low corner kick to Ferreira at the top right of the box, and he rocketed a shot into the net.

Asked what was his favorite goal, Ferreira replied, “Probably the corner kick. We practice it on the training ground and so whenever time we practice something and it works, it’s a good feeling.”

Arriola interrupted Ferreira’s extravaganza with a goal of his own as he took a pass from de la Torre and slipped the ball past the keeper for a 4-0 advantage in the 62nd minute.

Ferreira closed out his night as he poked a pass from Brendan Aaronson into the net in the 78th minute.

“It was a good application,” Berhalter said about the match. “It wasn’t a great first half, but we picked it up in the second half. But overall, in these conditions with a tight turnaround, the guys did a really good job.”

The Americans will meet El Salvador in its second CNL in San Salvador on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET.



FOR FATHER’S DAY: There’s still time to order ALIVE AND KICKING