Arriving in the United States at age eight when his father and Colombia international David Ferreira signed with FC Dallas, Jesús Ferreira probably didn’t think much about his own future.
A few years later, he began his soccer path at the same club where his father won the 2011 MLS Most Valuable Player Award. Jesús became a standout in his own right, helping FC Dallas claim the 2015-16 U.S. Soccer Development Academy championship. His play in the DA put him on the radar of the United States, and he eventually began receiving invites to train with the U.S. Youth National Teams but wasn’t able to play in international matches because he lacked eligibility.
After an impressive 2019 season where the FC Dallas Homegrown product put up eight goals and six assists in 33 matches, Ferreira made his way onto the radar of USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter. Last month, just days before his 19th birthday, he took another step when he was sworn in as a U.S. citizen.
With that, the door opened to the possibility of representing the United States. Ferreira was summoned to the USMNT’s January Camp with the idea he would use the month-long gathering to make his choice about which country he would represent.
“At the beginning of the camp I said to myself that I was going to see what this was like, and if I liked it, I was going to stick to the decision at the end,” he told ussoccer.com.
After experiencing three weeks of senior team camp and talking through things with his family, Ferreira made his desire known earlier this week.
“I had a long conversation with my family, asking what they thought I should do. We all came to a conclusion that the U.S. has been following me for a while, they’ve seen me, this is where I’ve been playing for a lot of my years. That led towards my final decision to play for the U.S., that they always had me in their thoughts, even when unfortunately, I couldn’t play.”
Upon informing U.S. Soccer of his decision, the Federation began the process to apply for a waiver to the FIFA statute which requires naturalized citizens to have lived continuously in the country five years after their 18th birthday. Though Ferreira is just 19 years old, there is a waiver process that considers situations where players did not move to the country purely for personal soccer reasons, one that has been successfully navigated by U.S. Soccer in the past with youth players such as Gedion Zelalem and Danny Acosta.
Following some diligent work by the team’s administrative staff, early Friday morning Ferreira was cleared by FIFA to represent the United States with immediate effect, making the 19-year-old striker available for selection in Saturday’s friendly match against Costa Rica. In Friday’s pre-match press conference, USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter confirmed that Ferreira will start the match against Los Ticos.
“It’s been a long time where I’ve been hoping to play for the U.S., seeing my friends get called up and me wanting to get called up, then me being able to be called up but not being able to play. That was sad, but all those emotions turn into happiness. I have my decision made, and I’m here getting called to the U.S. Men’s National Team.”