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USMNT striker Jesus Ferreira lauds the competition between him and Ricardo Pepi

USMNT forward Jesus Ferreira praises the competition between him and Ricardo Pepi as the FC Dallas forward looks to be in the driver’s seat for the No.9 role ahead of September’s friendlies

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USMNT forward Jesus Ferreira has hailed the ‘healthy matches’ between him and former teammate Ricardo Pepi as the pair compete for the team’s starting No.9 role ahead of the World Cup.

Pepi was left out of the squad in June but Ferreira is delighted to have the former FC Dallas forward back in the fold ahead of friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia.

‘I’m happy that I can compete with a guy who wants to get the best [out] by me,’ Ferreira told reporters on Tuesday.

Jesus Ferreira celebrates scoring a goal against Los Angeles FC for FC Dallas
Jesus Ferreira celebrates scoring a goal against Los Angeles FC for FC Dallas

Jesus Ferreira celebrates scoring a goal against Los Angeles FC for FC Dallas

– I am happy that he is back in his goalscoring form. For me on the competitive side, I want to push him to be the best he can and I want him to push me to be the best I can. We have a healthy relationship, a healthy fight in a way for the position.

“When I get to camp, I want to see him perform.”

Pepi started eight of the USMNT’s 14 World Cup qualifiers, scored three goals, and at one point looked like the front-runner to start up front for the team in Qatar.

Ricardo Pepi (center), seen with Ferreira (left), is back in the USMNT squad after a tough year
Ricardo Pepi (center), seen with Ferreira (left), is back in the USMNT squad after a tough year

Ricardo Pepi (center), seen with Ferreira (left), is back in the USMNT squad after a tough year

But the 19-year-old lost momentum as he went almost a year without a club goal following his move to Augsburg, while Ferreira has been given the start in recent tuning friendlies and now looks favorite for the No.9 spot.

Ferreira is enjoying by far his best season in MLS with 18 goals and five assists so far, while Josh Sargent also enters camp in fine scoring form for Norwich and Pepi recently broke his drought on loan at Groningen.

“We have a great competition between each other,” Ferreira said of the other forwards.

“Obviously, I want my teammates to score in their leagues.”

Ferreria also said that he has been working with a sports psychologist.

The Dallas forward has been criticized at times for his finishing at the national team level, but has added more end product this year on top of the other parts of his game that coach Gregg Berhalter admires.

‘To work with one [sports psychologist] has helped me understand that in games I need to focus more on having a good touch, making sure my pressure is good, making sure my runs are good, making sure I can get down and help get my first touch to build -out, he said.

‘Just making sure I have a good game before I think about the final product. Thinking about having a good game will lead me to having the final product which is the goal.

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