Jesus Ferreira USMNT Uruguay friendly 2022Getty

The never-ending No.9 race: Should the USMNT keep faith in Ferreira?

In a position as results-based as a striker, do you get points for trying?

Do you get credit for coming close, for nearly doing it? Is there value in having someone that simply creates danger? Can movement, playmaking and chances outweigh a lack of goals?

Those are the questions that the USMNT may have to ask themselves in a few months, and those are the questions currently being put forth by young Jesus Ferreira.

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Through the first two games of this four-game window, Ferreira has certainly created chances. You could easily argue that, with Ferreira up top, the USMNT is at its most dangerous.

Aganst Morocco and Uruguay, the 21-year-old FC Dallas star has shown the ability to bring his teammates into the game, drive the ball forward and put defenders on their heels.

What he hasn't done, at least so far this window, is score goals. He's come close several times, but the ball hasn't found the back of the net for one reason or another, from big saves to missed opportunities.

And so here we sit, wondering if the USMNT can thrive with Ferreira as the potential starter when things get going in Qatar. Can the USMNT win with a striker who probably isn't ready to be your primary goalscorer?

"The main focus as a nine is to score goals," Ferreira said, "but a lot of people have to see that the nine can also assist and can build out and get help out the building.

"I think my job is to facilitate other players to be able to score and to help the other players be in a position to score goals also."

He continued: "As a forward, it's important to score goals to keep your mindset right. I know that right now I'm going through a little struggle, but if I stay focused and I keep working, the goals will come."

To Ferreira's credit, the finishing struggles we've seen so far can be attributed to a few things: big-game jitters, a step up in competition, and international inexperience. All could be factors.

And, on the club level, he's certainly finished his chances, as he leads MLS with nine goals so far this season.

Internationally, he has three goals from his first 11 caps, including a vital goal agaisnt Panama in the final World Cup qualifying window – a fine haul considering his age a positioning.

It's not that Ferreira can't finish, because he absolutely can and has shown he can. He's a good young striker that can definitely find the back of the net.

It's just that he hasn't finished in his most recent two games, which just so happen to be two of the last games left before a World Cup.

With five months between the U.S. and their flight to Qatar, there isn't that much time to make impressions or add wrinkles to your game.

This may very well be the exact version of Ferreira we get in Qatar, but is that version good enough to start?

Ferreira, as things stand, is still not quite a pure No.9.

He'd primarily been used as a playmaker by FC Dallas before the departure of Ricardo Pepi – a player that, ironically, he's now battling with for the USMNT striker spot.

Because of that, Ferreira is probably the best striker in the pool when it comes to creating in the attacking third.

He clearly understands the needs of Berhalter's system as he frequently finds himself in a position to score.

He's not a one-trick pony up top either as he works well with the team's star wingers, which could be invaluable come World Cup time.

There's an argument to be made that, even if Ferreira isn't the best goalscorer in the pool, he is the player best equipped to open up space for Christian Pulisic, TIm Weah, Brenden Aaronson and Gio Reyna and, given the talent of those players, might that just be more valuable?

Ferreira, by any measure, is very intelligent with his movement despite his young age.

He knows when and where to drag defenders and, perhaps most importantly, when to get the hell out of the way and let someone like Pulisic cook.

"The connection, the chemistry, is getting there," Ferreira says. "Every practice, we get better and better.

"I enjoy playing with these guys and I know that every time I can turn, there are runners in behind and even, when I play with Brenden, I know that he can always play those balls in behind.

"There's always an adaptation that I have to have to make as a nine. If I'm playing with Tim, I know that he's always going to be running behind or if I play with Brenden or Christian, I know that they're always going to come inside and play the ball. I have to adapt."

But those chances, the missed chances, are a big strike against Ferreira. In a World Cup setting, goalscorers may only get one or two opportunities to change a game and, ultimately, change a tournament.

Those chances may or may not fall to Ferreira but, if they do, will he be ready? Maybe the question is if anyone will be ready.

Haji Wright has shown promise and has scored plenty in Turkey, but he's still only had a few minutes with the senior team so the jury is still out.

Josh Sargent hasn't been scoring for Norwich, Daryl Dike has struggled since his initial breakthrough and players like Matthew Hoppe, Jordan Pefok and Gyasi Zardes are probably too far behind to catch up.

Then, there's Pepi, a player that, six months ago, was the heir apparent. Perhaps the Augsburg striker comes out on fire for his club this season, finds his footing and plays his way back into the starting role.

Barring that, though, the U.S. are looking at a player once deemed to be the goalscorer of the future that hasn't scored any goals in about nine months.

Gregg Berhalter has pointed to France's World Cup triumph last cycle, how they didn't need goals from their No.9 to take down all comers.

France is obviously a different animal and Ferreira is no Olivier Giroud, but the point may still stand.

The U.S. may very well be better off without a pure No.9. They may be better with Ferreira's ability to help the attack flow and create for himself and others.

There are still two games this window for Ferreira and Wright to make their mark, even if goals scored against Grenada and El Salvador probably won't count for quite as much as goals against Morocco or Uruguay.

But if Ferreira can find just a few goals to add to his game, if he can convert a few of those chances that he's missed over the last week or so, he may very well seize control of the seemingly never-ending No.9 race.