FRISCO, Texas — Timex used to run an ad campaign boasting that their watches could take a licking and keep on ticking. As the league leader in fouls suffered this year, David Ferreira has certainly taken his share of licks, but that hasn't stopped him from running the FC Dallas midfield like clockwork.
The All-Star playmaker has been fouled 50 times so far this season—four more than Real Salt Lake’s Javier Morales. He also hasn’t missed a game since joining FCD in 2009. Last season he played in all 30 games and was off the field for a total of eight minutes. This year, Ferreira has started all 18 games and has missed just one minute.
“The [opposing] teams know me and they try to stop me from scoring by fouling me," the Colombian said through an interpreter. "So they won’t let me advance to score."
With five goals and six assists this year, Ferreira has become an irreplaceable component of the FCD attack. Head coach Schellas Hyndman has even gone so far as to nickname Ferreira El Torito — the Little Bull — as he has been tabbed by his teammates as the most valuable member of the team.
“I don’t think it’s any surprise that he’s the player teams are trying to shut down,” Hyndman said. “Why? Because he’s our go-to man. A lot of teams have go-to men that you can beat up and they disappear or they go to the bench."
But Ferreira's transition to the MLS last season was not an easy one. Initially the small-in-stature midfielder struggled adjusting to the physicality of the league and speed of the MLS game.
But Hyndman never wavered, and by the final third of last season it was clear Ferreira's transition was complete. He finished the year with eight goals and seven assists and played an integral role in teammate Jeff Cunningham's 2009 Budweiser Golden Boot campaign, which saw the veteran forward notch 17 goals.
Dallas is now seeing the dividends from all the hard work Ferreira has put in since joining the club on loan from South American partner Clube Atlético Paranaense of Brazil.
“I still think he’s one of the best players in the league," Hyndman said. “This team, it does belong to him. He’s a player that makes things happen. If he’s not scoring the goals, he's assisting on the goals. He’s doing it with great quality. We’ve really been pleased and blessed we brought him to MLS.”
And even though he’s only 5-foot-5, Ferreira is nothing short of a rock on the pitch. He is tough for foes to knock off the ball, and when he does take a knock, he quickly shifts gears to get back into the flow of the game.
While some players might get flustered by being fouled so much, he chooses to adopt an alternate approach.
“It affects me a little bit, but I make a big effort to help the team score big points," he added. "I have very good physical preparation. Sometimes I feel the beating, but just thinking about the team, I forget about the tiredness I feel or the beatings I get.”