KeyBank Match-up: Diego Chara vs. David Ferreira
David Ferreira is back. Maybe not back in the sense that he’s tearing up the league as he did in 2010 where he won MLS MVP honors and helped lead his team to the MLS Cup final. But after fourteen months of recovery following a broken ankle in 2011, Ferreira is back on the field for FC Dallas.
After first returning on July 4 against Toronto for the last half hour or so of the match, the Colombian native has played 90 or near 90 minutes in every match since.
Portland Timbers fans may remember the last time we saw him. It was April of 2011 at JELD-WEN Field and Ferreira was buzzing incessantly threatening to bring his team back into a match that Portland eventually won 4-2. With a goal and assist in the final ten minutes, Ferreira almost succeeded.
And that’s why he won the MVP award. It was not so much the numbers of his goals and assists—though very respectable at 8 and 13 that season—it’s the intangibles he brings to the field.
Looking to shut him down will be fellow Colombian Diego Chara. A stalwart cog at the center of the Timbers' engine, Chara’s work rate in the middle of the pitch has been the standard bearer of quality play across 2012.
How Chara will be able to take on the still rounding into form Ferreira—a player whom he knows from their overlapping time in the Colombian leagues—brings us to Timbers analyst Robbie Earle’s KeyBank Match-up
Ferreira floats across the midfield with the freedom to roam and create. Blessed with great touch on the ball and excellent awareness of the players around him, Ferreira is the classic #10 playmaker. He’s creative, he’s improvisational, and he gets into the thick of things.
His only drawback, at the moment, is that he’s still working his way into game form after being out for over a year. For a Dallas team that is looking to climb out of the basement of the Western Conference, Ferreira has the ability to spark the team’s rise.
With Chara, the Timbers have a player who similarly roams with impunity across the middle of the field. But while Ferreira may be more on the make to pry forward, Chara will look to blunt the advance.
A near surgeon at carving the ball away from opponents, Chara can dispossess attackers and then quickly—and here’s the real key—accurately re-distribute the ball to his fellow midfielders and forwards for the counter. In Wednesday’s grinding 1-0 loss to Chivas USA, Chara had a 93% pass accuracy rate. He only misfired on 5 of his 74 total passes.
Even if Chara’s ball removal operation goes awry and he gets whistled for a foul—something he currently leads the league in—he still will have succeeded in breaking up a play and allowing his teammates to reset their marks. That ability to both control the tempo and disrupt Dallas’ own pace is going to be essential in a match that is expected to have temperatures nearing triple digits.
Saturday also marks the first time the two will have faced each other in MLS. Last season, Chara had not yet arrived in Portland when FCD came to JELD-WEN Field and Ferreira was out injured for all other matches. While the two overlapped during their time in the Liga Postobon in Colombia, Saturday will showcase the two going at each other for the first time. Can the precise Chara smother the crafty Ferreira? Watch Saturday to find out.