Everyone was warned to temper their expectations as 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira returned to the pitch after more than a year away from the game. The 2013 season could be a different story, but surely Ferreira would struggle through the rest of the current season as he regained the fitness and touch that saw him rise to the top of Major League Soccer. Right?
The fact of the matter is Ferreira's first 7 starts of 2012 prove that, while he will very likely not be in the discussion at this season's end-of-year awards, he is still the Most Valuable Player in this league.
Since returning to FC Dallas at what head coach Schellas Hyndman called 60% fitness, Ferreira has led FCD to a 3-2-2 record in his seven starts, a pace that would put them near the top of the league. The difference on the offense has been night and day. In the 617 minutes Ferreira has played, FC Dallas has scored 10 goals, good for a goal every 61.7 minutes while in the rest of the season without Ferreira, the average is a goal every 86 minutes.
Amazingly, Ferreira is doing all this while instantly returning to his role as the most-fouled player in the league. In 2009, Ferreira was the third most fouled player in the league at nearly two fouls a game (58 fouls in 30 starts) while only Fredy Montero and Freddy Ljungberg were fouled more often.
In 2010, en route to the MLS MVP award, the pain on Ferreira was ramped up considerably to a league-leading standard. The Colombian was fouled an amazing 84 times in 30 games (2.8 fouls a game). Only Javier Morales of Real Salt Lake would come close to that number.
"He is such an important part of our success and style of play," head coach Schellas Hyndman said on Saturday night. "He’s one of the best players in the league to handle pressure and I think you see what happens when he does get by people that you’re not going to go very far."
With all those fouls, it's not surprising that Ferreira, one of the league's most exciting players, was taken out of action for well over a year. The frustrating thing for Hyndman is that the treatment has returned in 2012 at the same pace as his league-leading year of 2010. In eight games since returning, Ferreira has been fouled 22 times (2.75/game) while racking up an amazing 9 fouls in the last two games.
"You can see David out there is getting kicked a lot," Hyndman said after Saturday's win. "I said to the referees 'he's been kicked eight times in the first half.' They let me know there were only three fouls called and I quickly let them know they missed five."
Still, Ferreira has pressed on and took a major step forward on Saturday scoring his first goal of the season on an assist from fellow Colombian Fabian Castillo. In his seven starts, Ferreira has a goal and three assists, numbers on pace that are comparable to his 2010 MVP season.
"He is truly a warrior in all senses of the word," Hyndman said. "It was great to see him get a goal because he works awfully hard out there for us."
The 2012 season may be lost, but FCD fans can rest well in the off-season knowing that the club's on-field leader has nearly instantly returned to his old form. If Dallas can manage to put the right pieces around him in 2013, similar success to that MVP season should follow.