"When he came into the league, there were some question marks. Was he too small? Is he not fast enough? There’s always an adjustment for an international player into the league…but he really has put his stamp on this team as being one of the best players to ever put on an FC Dallas uniform."
-Schellas Hyndman after Wednesday practice (August 22, 2012)
David Ferreira gained some deserved recognition winning the 2010 Volkswagen MLS MVP en route to leading FC Dallas to MLS Cup for the first time. However, what he’s done to turn around FC Dallas through the first ten games of 2012 has been almost as impressive.
The impact that Ferreira has had on FC Dallas since returning from injury on July 4th is clear for all to see. FCD is playing their best soccer in over a year, having won three games in a row for the first time since July 2, 2011 and the goals that couldn’t be found earlier in the year have been plentiful in recent weeks.
FC Dallas TV voice Mark Followill sent me some great numbers on Ferreira through ten games and here is his impact put into numbers
The purest and obviously most important number that has been affected by the return of Ferreira is league points.
When Ferreira returned to the field for FC Dallas, their league record was 3-9-5 good for a spot in the Western Conference cellar with just 14 points through 17 games, a pace of .82/points per game. In ten games since returning, Dallas is 5-2-3 for 18 points, a pace of 1.8/points per game that is just behind conference leaders San Jose and Sporting KC.
The 18 points FC Dallas has gained since July 4th is also tied with the Montreal Impact and Houston for the most in Major League soccer, pulling FC Dallas into a playoff race that looked nearly impossible six weeks ago.
Heading into the July 4th game vs Toronto, FC Dallas found offense extremely tough to come by with just 16 goals in 17 games for a pace of less than a goal per game, a total that would be lower than any season in franchise history.
In the ten games since Ferreira’s return, FC Dallas has scored 17 goals, good for second most in the league behind just Los Angeles.
From an individual standpoint, Ferreira has been the best goal creator in the league since returning. The Colombian has six assists in ten games good for .6 assists per game which is the most of any player in the league with at least ten games played (Landon Donovan .52/APG, Mauro Rosales .50/APG) . He also leads MLS in assists/90 minutes at .68 (Shea Salinas .67, Mauro Rosales .62).
It should also be noted that both of Ferreira’s goals have been game-winners.
There can be no denying that when Ferreira is on the field, every other member of the starting XI feels more need to pull their weight around the pitch. Schellas Hyndman said it best on Wednesday when talking about the effect Ferreira has on young gun Fabian Castillo.
"How is Castillo not going to work when David is working so hard and saying to him ‘if I can do it, you can do it.’"
And Ferreira’s effect has been felt on no player more than Castillo. Since Ferreira’s return to the field, Castillo has four goals and two assists in nine games, including goals in his last three, tied for the longest current streak in the league.
To put those previous numbers in perspective, in 32 previous career games, the young Colombian has three goals and four assists. Castillo has scored as many times in his last three games on the pitch with Ferreira, has he did in his first 33 games in the league.
The fourth and final category that has significantly shot up, not unexpectedly, with the return of Torito is fouls suffered. Since returning to the pitch, Ferreira is tied with Benny Feilhaber for most fouls suffered per match (minimum 10 matches played) with 2.9. The number matches his fouls suffered/match numbers from 2010 and 2011 as well.
While Schellas Hyndman surely cringes every time his Colombian is felled to the turf, the suffering of fouls leads to dangerous set pieces, cards and an opportunity for his team to move up the field during the dead ball situation while retaining possession.
Just like Josh Hamilton for the Rangers and Dirk Nowitzki for the Mavericks, FC Dallas has an MVP-caliber player working his magic on a game-by-game basis. FCD is in the middle of a furious push to get back into the playoff race and, should they get there, will likely be a team that nobody wants to face. With three home games left in the season, you’re not going to want to miss an opportunity to see Torito work his magic at FC Dallas Stadium.