In a season when so many young players made solid contributions to the Western Conference and U.S. Open Cup title runs for Kansas City Wizards, midfielder Jack Jewsbury distinguished himself by earning the largest share of time. Of 30 regular season matches, Jewsbury started 15, including the critical last five, and appeared in 22 in all.
Although not an overtly flashy player, Jewsbury occasionally pulls off some tricky maneuvers. It was his juking of Chris Albright last Saturday that cleared space for his shot on goal that beat Los Angeles Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, which was saved off the line by Ryan Suarez and fell to the feet of teammate Josh Wolff, who drove it home for the game-winning score.
"Jack, he's got stump, he's got mettle, and he does surprise you," said Wizards head man Bob Gansler. "The dance he did to get that shot off surprised everybody, and mostly it surprised Albright, which was good enough."
The 23-year-old Jewsbury is in his second professional season, playing in only two matches last season.
"Sometimes he also surprises you negatively because he's a rookie," Gansler said. "It might be his second year, but he's a young player and sometimes pulls things out, and you say, 'Oh my god, what were you thinking?' "
Jewsbury has made no glaring errors costing the Wizards any matches, yet the learning curve has been steep.
"It's been good. I didn't know what quite to expect coming into the year," Jewsbury said. "I just tried to work hard, as I always have. And when I got my chance, try to impress as much as possible. As of late, I've gotten some starts, and I've tried to make my mark."
Many MLS fans will recall Jewsbury's mark against the Galaxy on July 23. The goal gave the Wizards a 2-0 lead at the time, but the ferocity of it is what will be most remembered. Off a layoff from Chris Klein and nearly 22 yards from goal, Jewsbury blasted a steamroller that quickly scooted by the defense and Hartman. The strike was voted MLS Sierra Mist Goal of the Week.
"He's had some good moments for us this year; obviously. I know he had a big goal here versus L.A. last time we played them. He's been solid, he can be counted on. He's still learning, but he's done a lot of good things this year," said Wizards forward Josh Wolff.
The playoffs come beckoning this weekend, and the Springfield, Missouri native will be counted on to provide solid defense wide in midfield and to contribute on the attack.
"He's certainly got a good role for us now, with that comes some responsibility," Wolff said. "I think he's taken a hold of that."
Said Gansler: "He's a good, hard working Midwest boy just like most of us are. He can play on our team -- there's no doubt about it."
Robert Rusert is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.