FRISCO, Texas - Despite having played only 12 games this season, David Ferreira is already the third-most fouled player on FC Dallas behind Andrew Jacobson and Jair Benitez, both of whom have played more than twice as many minutes as Ferreira in 2012.
"When the games get more and more important [the plan] seems to be, 'If you stop David, you stop FC Dallas,'" said head coach Schellas Hyndman.
There hasn't been a more important game for FC Dallas this year than this Saturday's date with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at FC Dallas Stadium. A win on Saturday puts Dallas just one point behind the 'Caps in the race for the final playoff berth in the Western Conference while a loss increases the gap between FCD and postseason qualification to seven points.
Given the significance of the match, Hyndman understands his playmaker will be watched closely Saturday night.
"It’s no surprise teams play to him," said Hyndman. "He’s such a good player and such a difference-maker."
Vancouver has commited a league-leading 405 fouls through 28 games played this year for an average of 14.5 fouls per game. In last month's match with FCD the 'Caps commited a season-high 24 fouls.
On average, Ferreira has endured 2.83 fouls per match but hasn't been fouled more in a single game in 2012 than when FC Dallas traveled to BC Place last month. In that match, six of 24 fouls (25%) commited by Whitecaps FC were focused on Dallas' No. 10. Ferreira chooses to view the extra attention as a good thing.
"If the other team is focusing all of its attention on me, I feel that is a positive for the team because it gives me the opportunity to absorb a lot of the pressure," Ferreira said through a translator. "It opens up more opportunities for my teammates to score goals."
Ferreira's coach doesn't quite see that glass as half full.
"You always hope the refs make the right call," Hyndman said. "There are three teams out there: the opposing team, the home team and the officiating team. All three of them have to be good to make it a beautiful game."
Hyndman has faith his team will do its part to make it a beautiful game on Saturday night.
"I’ve been really pleased with the energy and the effort the players have given me all year, so I would expect nothing but their best on Saturday."