TORONTO -- David Ferreira didn't know what to do with himself. He was about to accept his first MVP award on the stage in a back room of BMO Field, just a year after being labeled a flop. MLS officials were showing a compilation of his 2010 highlights on screens off to the sides of the podium. The clip lingered on the last bit of footage showing Ferreira and his teammates dancing after a goal. It made Ferreira look down and blush.
The pocket-sized playmaker looked out of his element accepting the glass urn-shaped trophy, his head barely poking out of an unbuttoned lavender shirt and a dark gray sport coat.
But with a record like his this season -- eight goals and 13 assists -- Ferreira has no reason to be embarrassed, dances or no dances. And he shouldn't be uncomfortable with the attention, either, no matter how unlikely it would have seemed just a year ago.
It wasn't terribly long ago, in the beginning of the 2009 season, that Ferreira was considered another high-profile acquisition to have failed spectacularly in MLS despite having won a heap of hardware in South America, including the Copa America with Colombia in 2001.
"I never thought it was such a fast league, at the beginning it was very hard," Ferreira said through an interpreter on Friday. Indeed, it took him a while to learn that he was better off exploiting his own speed, rather than slowing the game down like a typical South American player would try to do. "I knew that this year had to be different because the people that brought me had [had confidence] in me."
FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman said that when he assumed the reins as manager in June 2008, the first player he went after was Ferreira, who he didn't land until February 2009. "In 2005, I saw him in Brazil with Atletico Paranaense," Hyndman said. "And I wondered why a Brazilian club would go to Colombia for a playmaker. That's how important he was to them."
So once Ferreira had his tactical Eureka moment and learned to speed up his attacking game, things started to click for him and his team. "Just like in any other league, I adapted to the game, even though I experienced a lot of fouls," Ferreira said.
Ah, yes. Those fouls. No player incurred more fouls than Ferreira last year -- 84 in 30 games, almost three times per game. "There's a reason for that," said Hyndman, smiling, a subtle reminder that because of Ferreira's speed, the legal options for stopping him are threadbare.
Ferreira has more than earned his MVP award -- and the right to do another dance, too.