FRISCO, Texas – When Jackson left FC Dallas to join Cruzeiro on loan at the end of 2011, he was an unhappy, quiet and homesick player with just one goal and no assists in his final 13 games of the season.
Questions were raised as to whether the Brazilian would ever be back with FC Dallas, but with an injury crisis gutting his roster and no other options at hand, Schellas Hyndman was forced to recall the enigmatic attacker in late April.
He's certainly glad he did.
“I hope you see what I see in Jackson,” Hyndman said after Saturday’s win over Real Salt Lake. “He’s a much more mature player, a much more focused player and a much happier player.”
Jackson returned from Brazil with his newlywed wife and a new attitude. It took the 25-year-old a month to get his fitness up to speed, but since the middle of the 2012 season, Jackson has quietly become one of the best attackers in the league.
The Brazilian is one of just four players in MLS (along with Landon Donovan, Federico Higuaín and Thierry Henry) with at least five goals and seven assists in their last 15 appearances. He accentuated his hot start to 2013 with a goal and the game-winning assist in Saturday’s 2-0 win over RSL.
“You start to see the Jackson that we always remember in those good moments in the past, only those good moments didn’t occur all the time,” said Hyndman. “I think what you’re starting to see is those good moments are occurring more often and that a lot of it has to do with his maturity. Also, the club has done a fantastic job with him making him feel comfortable, making his wife feel comfortable.
"He just seems to walk with a smile on his face again.”
Jackson’s effort on Saturday was certainly his best of the season thus far, running doggedly from endline to endline, pressuring every pass, before collapsing to the pitch at the final whistle with a goal and an assist to his name. Reminiscent of his sprinting throughout the match, the Brazilian quickly left the locker room before media could speak to him on Saturday.
But his effort is bringing out the best in his teammates.
“I think what happens is that the team is committed and they’ve been working hard with the commitment to put all the effort out through the whole 90 minutes of the game,” said David Ferreira.