FRISCO, Texas – Some players are suited for the midfield, others for the back line. But FC Dallas’ Jackson has one trait that breeds success in any role – flat-out speed.
The fleet-footed Brazilian’s versatility has been on display since arriving on loan from Brazilian powerhouse São Paulo FC in August 2010. For the second consecutive season, Jackson wore a lot of hats for FCD, appearing at right back, center midfield, right midfield and forward.
“That’s no problem for me. It depends on where the coach needs me,” Jackson told MLSsoccer.com through a translator. “If they want me to play on defense, I will play defense. If they want me to play forward, I will play forward. But I feel most comfortable in the midfield.”
Manager Schellas Hyndman was forced to shift Jackson around the field throughout the season. The 23-year-old began the season at right back, starting 11 games in a defensive role and collecting a pair of assists. But when veteran Jair Benitez took a firm grasp on the position, Hyndman had the flexibility to move Jackson into the midfield.
“I would like to see Jackson play in the right side midfield,” Hyndman said. “If I could get him to be a little calmer on his retaliation or his emotions, I think he would be extremely good as a right full back. But most of the team probably feels calmer if he’s in the midfield.”
Jackson proved dangerous in the midfield opposite MVP candidate Brek Shea, utilizing his speed to cut through opposing defenses. The Brazilian made an impact in June, scoring in three-straight MLS contests. But during the months of September and October, the team struggled through a league-leading, 401-minute scoring drought, prompting his move to forward. Jackson was the lone forward in Dallas’ home shutout loss to the New York Red Bulls in the Wild Card round.
“We were forced a lot to change players from one position as we continued to improvise and put the best players on the field," Hyndman said. "We really don’t want to do it that way. We really would rather have players play a position so they know what their role and responsibilities are.”
Heading into 2012, Hyndman hopes that with fewer injuries and a lighter schedule, he may be able to do just that.
World Cup winner Sanchez waits patiently
When you win a World Cup, even at the youth level, you expect things to come easily. But for FC Dallas goalkeeper Richard Sanchez, being a champion entitles you to nothing.
“You did win a World Cup, but it doesn’t mean you're getting a starting position right away,” Sanchez told MLSsoccer.com. “You have to fight for that position, and I am aware of that.”
Sanchez started every game for the Mexican U-17 national team this past summer, posting a 1.00 goals against average and earning two shutouts in the tournament. But at the ripe age of 17, the American-born Sanchez currently sits fourth on the goalkeeping depth chart behind career-wins leader Kevin Hartman, backup Chris Seitz and Josh Lambo.
Despite keeping a clean sheet in front of 105,000 fans in a 2-0 victory against Uruguay in the U-17 World Cup final, Sanchez remains humble about his role with the team.
“I just have to be patient,” he said. “I need to keep working hard if I want to start on this team and help this team out.”
While Sanchez recognizes that he improved and matured greatly during his time with the Mexican national team, he said he relishes the opportunity to practice each and every day with his current club. Learning from Hartman, the most decorated goalkeeper in MLS history, certainly helps.
“But not just Hartman,” Sanchez said. “Chris Seitz and Josh Lambo as well; they give me tips and hints and advice that helps a lot. I really appreciate being around them.”
As the team breaks for the offseason, Sanchez has his eyes set on returning in January as an improved player. He’s exploring his training options but would prefer an opportunity overseas.
“It’s just working on the basic stuff and not losing that training,” said Sanchez. “And just keep working hard.”