FRISCO, Texas – It may be the offseason but three FC Dallas Homegrowns – Jesús Ferreira, Justin Che and Ricardo Pepi – are still hard at work with the US Men’s National Team and looking to book their place in the squad for next month’s World Cup qualifiers.
“This camp is an important camp for all of us, especially the players that play in MLS,” Ferreira told reporters on a Zoom call this week. “Right now, most of the guys here are in offseason. So, to be ready and prepared for anything that happens for January qualifiers, we need this camp. It’s an important part of if we get called up to January camp. So, I don’t think anyone here is taking it lightly. Everyone is focused 100% to learn, especially the new guys. The new guys are here to learn the new models and the style of play, so we can all be ready to hopefully get called up for the January qualifiers.”
It's Ferreira’s second consecutive national team camp after taking part in the November qualifiers where he made his senior competitive debut in the USMNT’s 2-0 win over Mexico. His call-up came off the back of a standout season for FC Dallas where he registered career highs with eight goals and nine assists. Both Ferreira and Pepi were recently nominated for US Soccer's Male Young Player of the Year award.
“It was a good year for me personally,” said Ferreira. “Obviously, it wasn’t a great year as a team. We’re always learning, I’m always building up from each season. We know that 2020 was an iffy season for me with one goal and one assist. But it’s always about bouncing back and being able to work hard to achieve things. In 2020, I made sure I was working on my mindset, my mind and obviously my body for 2021. And it paid off with the stats. I’m always happy to get called up to national team camp. That’s what it’s all about, performing at the club level so we can get called up and perform out here.”
There’s an added wrinkle to this camp for Ferreira and his FC Dallas teammates. Nico Estévez, USMNT assistant coach, was named as FC Dallas’ eighth head coach in its history last week. Estévez is finishing out his final national team responsibilities before taking charge of FCD full time next month. Now, the Dallas contingent will have a chance to get to know their new coach before FCD’s preseason begins.
“Yeah, when I found out (about Estévez’s hiring) he gave me a call,” Ferreira said. “We had a chat over the phone and then once I got here, we caught up a little bit. I’m pretty sure that we’re going to talk a little more during this whole camp.
“Every camp that I’ve been called up to, he (Estévez) has been here. So, we get along pretty good, we talk a lot on the field. He’s always helping me in any positional or anything that I need help understanding the game play, the game model, or any drill that we’re doing at the time.