March 26, 2023

By Jake Nisse For Dailymail.Com


USMNT striker Jesus Ferreira has hailed the ‘healthy fighting’ between him and ex-teammate Ricardo Pepi as the pair compete for the team’s starting No. 9 role ahead of the World Cup.
Pepi was omitted from the squad in June, but Ferreira is pleased to have the former FC Dallas forward back in the fold ahead of friendlies vs. Japan and Saudi Arabia.
‘I’m happy that I can compete with a guy that will get the best [out] of me,’ Ferreira told reporters virtually Tuesday from the team’s training base in Cologne, Germany.
Jesus Ferreira celebrates scoring a goal against Los Angeles FC for FC Dallas
‘I’m happy that he’s back in his goalscoring form. For me in the competitive side, I wanna push him to be the best that he can, and I want him to push me to be the best that I can. We have a healthy relationship, a healthy fighting in a way for the position.
‘Whenever I come into camp, I wanna’ see him perform.’
Pepi started eight of the USMNT’s 14 World Cup qualifiers, scoring three goals, and at one point looked the frontrunner to start up front for the team in Qatar.
Ricardo Pepi (center), seen with Ferreira (left), is back in the USMNT squad after a rough year
But the 19-year-old lost momentum as he went nearly a year without a club goal after moving to Augsburg, while Ferreira has gotten the starting nod in recent tune-up friendlies and now looks the favorite for the No. 9 spot.
Ferreira is enjoying by far his best season in MLS, with 18 goals and five assists thus far, while Josh Sargent also enters the camp in good scoring form for Norwich and Pepi recently broke his drought on loan for Groningen.
‘We have a great competition between each other,’ Ferreira said of the other strikers. 
‘Obviously I want my teammates to be scoring in their leagues.’
Ferreria also shared that he’s been working with a sports psychologist.
The Dallas striker has at times been criticized 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 coach Gregg Berhalter so admires. 
‘Working with a [sports psychologist] 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 have my first touch for build-out,’ he said.
‘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 having the final product which is the goal.
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group


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