Jesus Ferreira celebrates one of his 18 MLS goals this season. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
One of Jesus Ferreira’s strengths is knowing his weaknesses.
Understanding that when he struggled to find the net, the FC Dallas standout and U.S. men’s national team forward decided to use a sports psychologist to make sure his head was screwed on straight, so to speak, when playing his favorite sport.
It certainly has helped Ferreira this MLS season, connecting for a team record-tying 18 goals with two more match remaining before the playoffs.
The 21-year-old striker, one of the players USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter is hoping to score a few goals at the Qatar World Cup, wasn’t afraid to talk about his situation on Tuesday afternoon.
“I noticed this at the beginning of this year that there was a good amount of games that I went in a row without scoring,” he said during a Zoom media call. “There was a lot of pressure on myself from myself and I needed a focus on clearing that out of my mind, making sure that I knew that goals will come. I had a group of friends, a group of coaches and group of teammates come to me and made sure that they let me know that I bring more to the to the team than just score and that’s what kind of led me to work on my mental health.”
So, Ferreira sought out a sports psychologist. It has turned into a bountiful season for the 5-9, 150-lb. attacker. He sits in fourth place among MLS goal-scorers behind Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar (23 goals).
Ferreira said that he was working “with a guy that has helped me understand that in games, I need to focus more on having a good touch, making sure that my press is good, making sure that my runs are good, making sure that I can come down and help my first touch for build out; just making sure that I have a good game before I think about the final product.
“Thinking about having a good game will lead me to have in the final product. So, that has helped me huge in games where I have no idea what I’m doing, or I failed. Just focusing on making sure that I have a good game will lead me to a You know having a positive outcome which is the final product which is the goal.”
Ferreira will try to score a goal or two for the national side during its World Cup warm-up matches. The USA plays Japan in Dusseldorf, Germany on Friday and against Saudi Arabia in Murcia, Spain on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
He admitted he wasn’t sure if any of his Dallas teammates use a sports psychologist.
“But for me, I’ve always had problems with my mood when some things don’t go my way on the field or I mess up,” Ferreira added. “I kind of tend to shut down. I knew that from the beginning I have coaches that would help give me things that will help me move on from that quickly.”
So, Ferreira and his agent sat down and talk about using a sports psychologist. He certainly wasn’t the first professional athlete to utilize one and certainly won’t be the last.
“Anything that can help me inside the game, I will do. especially if it’s for personal,” he said. I took it and we started working with someone that has helped me a lot. I’m happy that he understands soccer and the position that I am in. I’m happy that he can come in and help me where I need to be helped.
Ferreira said the psychologist has helped his mood.
“Whenever I get frustrated, I can move on fast, move on faster when things aren’t going my way, just think about positive things and making sure that I’m thinking about having a good game instead of my final product,” he said.
So far, so very good.
The USMNT’s final product has produced 18 goals for FC Dallas and another four for the national team this year with a few more games to come