FRISCO, Texas — In the midst of a demanding stretch of games across multiple competitions, midfielder Andrew Jacobson and FC Dallas made a decision: They’d delay much-needed knee surgery, keeping him on the field as FCD fought their way across the continent and back in pursuit of multiple trophies.
In the end, it was a move that didn’t pay off, as Dallas limped to a fourth-place finish in the Western Conference, while crashing out of the CONCACAF Champions League, US Open Cup and MLS Cup Playoffs.
“There were a lot of things that just weren’t working for us,” manager Schellas Hyndman said following the team’s final training session on Monday. “But the thing I am proud about is the guys, injured or not injured, they showed up and gave me their best.”
Following the team’s Wild Card exit at the hands of New York last month, Jacobson returned home to Northern California. He underwent surgery last week and has begun rehabilitating with an eye on training camp on Jan. 16.
“The rehab is really going to be just getting all of that strength back,” said Jacobson. “I definitely lost some playing those months injured. I have a really good physical therapist and I expect to be 100 percent within four or five weeks.”
Jacobson nursed a torn meniscus from late July all the way through 2011’s ultimately disappointing end. In a 12-game stretch predating the injury, he was a critical part of the FC Dallas attack, recording a team-leading five assists and one goal; they went 8-3-1 during that stretch.
But in his nine final appearances following the injury, the Jacobson didn’t register a goal or assist and was often used in a reserve role.
“The injury in the middle of the season really hurt,” said Jacobson to MLSsoccer.com by phone. “I found it harder to get up and down the field.”
The University of California graduate figures to play a prominent role on the squad in 2012. The team expressed their confidence in the young American during the season, extending his contract in October. Jacobson likes how he fits within Hyndman’s scheme and knows what is expected of him on the pitch.
“I need to cover a lot of ground defensively and, offensively, really be a physical presence in the center of the midfield,” said Jacobson. “I’m kind of a box-to-box midfielder. That’s what I am expected to do.”
But his real value could be in his versatility. With the return of captain Daniel Hernandez and defender George John in question, Jacobson might be used in a variety of positions.
“I think Andrew really settled into that holding midfield, the connecting midfield where Dax [McCarty] was,” said Hyndman. “But there were a lot of games when George was gone and he was playing center back, and he did well with it.”
Either way, Jacobson is excited about having a full preseason with the team.
“I think I can grow a lot in the second year,” said Jacobson. “I think it was a good base, but it definitely wasn’t the limit that I have. I think I can have a much better season next year.”