MONTREAL – Once again, Anthony Jackson-Hamel came off the bench and didn’t need a long time to score.
Jackson-Hamel entered the game in the 79th minute Saturday, at a sold-out Stade Saputo, and just five minutes later, off a quick transition and from a difficult angle, Jackson-Hamel provided the winner for the Montreal Impact in their 2-1 victory over visiting Orlando City SC. Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik had been excellent for most of the night, but he couldn’t get his hands to the 22-year-old's cool, low finish, which just trickled past him.
It was a massive goal for the Impact, who, with the victory, reduced the gap between them and Orlando in the Eastern Conference standings to three points. But in the locker room after the game, Jackson-Hamel didn't look as excited as one might expect a young local player who'd just scored the winner in a big game to be.
“I’m gonna say the same thing I’ve been saying all season, when I come on, it’s to score,” Jackson-Hamel said. “That’s what I did again, and I don’t have much else to say.”
Jackson-Hamel has been clutch off the bench this season. He now has five goals in eight substitute appearances, and is the Impact's second highest scorer after Ignacio Piatti, who scored the other goal for the home side. Jackson-Hamel's tally against Orlando was his second game winning goal of the season.
The problem is that he'd like to start scoring from the start. He's only started four times this season, scoring once in those.
Montreal coach Mauro Biello, who said he had a conversation with Jackson-Hamel in training this week about his role in the team, said the youngster, despite playing predominantly as a subsitute, has still played a big role in the team.
"He's been super important for us this year," Biello said. "How many big goals has he scored for us this year coming off the bench? It's almost like having an ace in the hole. And in the end, when you have a player like that who feeds off tired defenders at the end of games, and is able to read spaces, and who's confident, he becomes effective for me."
With the Impact's main forward Matteo Mancosu struggling this season, having only scored three goals in 14 starts, Jackson-Hamel will probably get his chance to start again soon. But for now, he understands that he has to keep working hard and make the most of any minutes he gets.
“What I want to be is a starter; I don’t hide it," Jackson-Hamel said. "After that, I have to get the confidence of the coach, keep scoring when I come on. And do what I have to do."