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USMNT forward Jesus Ferreira praises the competition between himself and Ricardo Pepi

USMNT forward Jesus Ferreira has hailed the “healthy fight” between himself and ex-teammate Ricardo Pepi as the pair battle for the team’s No9 ahead of the World Cup.

Pepi was left out of the squad in June but Ferreira is happy to have the former FC Dallas forward back in the squad ahead of the friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia.

“I’m glad I can compete with a guy who gets the best [out] by me,” Ferreira told reporters practically Tuesday from the team’s training base in Cologne, Germany.

“I’m happy he’s back in his goalscoring form. For me on the competitive side, I want to make him do the best he can and I want him to make me do the best I can. We have a healthy relationship, a healthy struggle for position in a way.

“Whenever I come to camp, I want to see him perform.”

Pepi started eight of the USMNT’s 14 World Cup qualifiers, scoring three goals and looking as a leader once to lead the team in Qatar.

But the 19-year-old lost momentum as he went almost a year without a club goal after moving to Augsburg, while Ferreira got the starting nod in the recent Tuning friendlies and is now the favorite at 9th place.

Ferreira is enjoying his best season by far in MLS with 18 goals and five assists so far, while Josh Sargent also arrives in good scoring form for Norwich and Pepi recently got over his dry spell on loan for Groningen.

“We have great competition among ourselves,” Ferreira said of the other forwards.

“Obviously I want my team-mates to score points in their leagues.”

Ferreria also shared that he has been working with a sports psychologist.

The Dallas forward has at times been criticized for his national-team rankings but this year has added more end product to the other parts of his game that coach Gregg Berhalter so admires.

“Working with a [sports psychologist] helped me understand that in games I need to focus more on having a good touch, making sure my press is good, making sure my runs are good, making sure I can come down and help, my first touch to have for the set-up,’ he said.

“I’m just making sure I have a good game before thinking about the final product. If I think about having a good game I will have the end product which is the goal.

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