It would take an extraordinary performance to stand head and shoulders above them and every player in Major League Soccer. But FC Dallas' 5-5, 152-lb. midfielder David Ferreira has achieved just that — and then some — this season.
That's why he was named the league's Most Valuable Player on Friday, and the main reason why FC Dallas will play in Sunday's MLS Cup final against the Colorado Rapids.
And what's the key to Ferreira's success for FC Dallas and his native Colombian international team? He keeps his cool.
"It's all based on the tranquility that you have in the moment," he said.
And it's that same serenity that will help Dallas win on Sunday, he says.
"Calmness, the fact that we will be at peace and know what we're doing," he said. "A lot of concentration. Those two things will help the team be in a better position."
No one has to remind his teammates about Ferreira's value to the team. He has played on both sides of the ball, whether it was leading the Dallas attack or defending against another team. Ferreira, 31, has recorded eight goals and 13 assists this season. He played every game, and every minute but one this season.
And he missed that minute only because Coach Schellas Hydmann decided to take him out at the end of a win so he could receive the proper recognition from the Dallas supporters.
"He's been unbelievable for us," midfielder and captain Daniel Hernández said. "For us to be successful, he needs to have a great game. I think it showed throughout the year. Not only talent-wise, but he has done amazing every single game of the season. Not only playing every game of the season, but he has been 100 percent in every game of the season. That in itself has been amazing. . . . He has MVP written all over him."
FC Dallas coach Schellas Hydmann originally had seen Ferreira while he was coach of Southern Methodist University while lecturing in Brazil in 2005.
"The first thing that went through my mind was, why would Brazil, of all places, go to Colombia to find a playmaker?" Hyndmann said. "But it didn't take long to recognize why he was so important for the Atlético Paranaense team."
When Hyndmann became Dallas coach in 2008, Ferreira was the first player he added. He came as a loan player from Atlético Paranaense, although Dallas is looking to secure his contract after the Cup.
Ferreira, who has been fouled more than any other player in the league this season (84 times), is nicknamed the "Little Bull."
"Look at his stature," Hydmann said. "He's not a very big man, but he's completely solid. He's quick. He fights, so the fans could appreciate him. He trains extremely, extremely hard.
"Whoever mentored him as a young player really did a fantastic job," he added, "because David Ferreira is a competitive player and very gifted. Talent can take you so far. Character can keep you there. He exemplifies that."
Ferreira, who has made 35 appearances for Colombia, was quick to credit a mentor in Cartagena for his makeup as a player.
"In the barrio where I grew up, there was someone who helped me along the way," he said. "All the awards that I have now I owe him. When I got to Cartenaga, a gentleman was very helpful. Yes, I've had a lot of difficulties to be here today. But based on my effort and my desire to be a professional player, I have been able to reach my goals."
His next goal is the MLS Cup trophy on Sunday.