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The Monday After Portland: David Ferreira the Leader?

When the man who is charged with the team's leadership is ineffective, what do you do?

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

It's hard to write the following bits about a guy who was this club's best player for a good while.

What is going on with David Ferreira? He has been a bit hurt, this much we know, but where's the fire? The reason Ferreira was such a monster to deal with in the past was that he never gave up possession without a fight. While he wouldn't track back to defend frequently, he would make up for this with running around in the midfield, trying to get open. He would continue his runs after he made a pass, or would be interested in at least lurking dangerously outside the box.

Ferreira is lately doing none of these things, and the body language doesn't help. He looks disinterested for long stretches of time, gets visibly frustrated frequently and is generally acting like someone who is supremely unhappy while on the field.

It's not hard to see why, though not all the reasons that are speculated upon need be true. If I was a player, and I didn't have faith in my manager, that could do it. We don't know if Ferreira's lack of motivation stems from two years involving ugly winless streaks, his frustration with the manager, or anything related to the team at all. Whatever the cause though, it's unfortunately visibly hurting the team's attack. He adds very little to the attack, and compared to Diaz he actually looks like a negative influence.

I have always believed in not jumping to conclusions after a month or so of performances. Soccer isn't like baseball, where a month's worth of games has a decent sample. Soccer might see as little as four games a month, and a player's form can certainly recover from four games. But it has been well more than four games of disappointing showings in the midfield from the man who is supposed to be the leader.

The leader doesn't have to be the best. The best team captains have frequently not been the best player on the team. No one would argue that Derian Hatcher was a better player than Mike Modano; but he was a better leader. In soccer, when the manager gives a captain the armband, he subconsciously (or directly) tells all the other players, especially the less established ones: "This is your man. Watch him. Follow his example. Listen to him. Learn."

People say the armband doesn't matter. This is somewhat true. The armband doesn't give you the power to slap referees in the face. It doesn't let you score goals at will, shrug off personal issues while performing on the pitch, fly, turn into Charizard, or summon forth Zuul.

But saying the armband doesn't matter is also somewhat false. The armband is there for a reason. It's a symbol of respect if nothing else, and that respect when lost can lead to tricky and potentially ugly situations. Players can and will question what that person has done to deserve it, breeding discontent and gossiping in the locker room. People easily forget that athletes are normal people with unusual jobs. What would you do if your team leader looked disinterested, upset, or some combination of both? That sort of thing trickles down, hurting morale at all levels.

It's not all bad though.

Drew mentioned it earlier, but it bears repeating: Erick looks to be a very good contributor once he's fit, and Diaz is already showing why HSG paid him big bucks. Unfortunately, this winless streak is dangerously close to last year's record breaking exercise in futility. I want to be optimistic, but this thing better turn around quickly for FCD to have a resonable chance at making the playoffs.