Jackson regains focus after apology to team

To say the 2011 season to date has been an interesting one for FC Dallas midfielder/defender Jackson Goncalves has to rank as a pretty big understatement. On the low side, there was the red card he got in a 2-0 loss at Columbus back on April 1, an ejection that made FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman talk about “emotional intelligence” from his players.

And in May, there was the news that surfaced that the versatile Brazilian would be leaving the team to get married on June 4, the same day FCD was slated to face New England at Pizza Hut Park. When asked if this was an excused absence, Hyndman merely replied Jackson was leaving for personal reasons.

Jackson hasn’t started since, a span of three games. However, he did get on the field, coming on as a 72nd-minute sub for speedy striker Fabian Castillo on Saturday night against Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center and 13 minutes later, netted the game-winner in a 2-1 decision over the Red-and-White.

Sure, it was a pretty cheap goal as Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy paid the price for poor communication in the back and Jackson pounced, sending a ball toward the left post that first struck the iron before landing in the back of the net for the deciding tally. But it was a great moment for a guy whose 2011 season has had more downs than ups so far this year. Jackson has been relatively solid in his 10 starts, nine of which were at right back but those bad showings seem to be what many remember.

Right after his wedding, Jackson did return to Frisco to re-join his teammates. Upon doing so, he called them together to address his performance so far this season.

“I think he’s had a lot of things on his mind and when you have a lot of things on your mind, it’s really hard to focus on why we have you here. So, he’s met with the team and basically apologized to the team for not being as focused as he needs to be but stepping forward, he will be,” Hyndman said. “I thought that was a big step on his part. It wasn’t just something that a lot of people noticed. He noticed it.”

The Dallas gaffer calls all the issues surrounding Jackson from earlier in the year old news and water under the bridge.

And talking to the newly-married Brazilian, he agrees. “What happened, it’s in the past,” Jackson said through a translator. “FC Dallas wants to go back to the final and I want to do the same thing. I’m working hard to help us achieve that goal. We came really close last year. We really want to get back there this year.”

Jackson admits that since getting hitched, he does have a newfound focus in how he approaches the beautiful game. “I do feel different. Before, I would go home and not have much to do,” Jackson said. “Now, there are more things like that to make you focus. I’m here working and I know when I go home, someone will be waiting and that everything will be OK.”

Maybe part of that focus has to do with the fact that his new bride accompanied him back to the States. “Once we got married, we both came back,” Jackson said. “She’s going to be here for a couple weeks.”

After his recent uptick and form and the fact he scored the game-winner last week in Carson, it’s not a huge stretch to think this versatile South American talent will be back in Hyndman’s first 11 this weekend as MLS expansion side Portland visits the Oven.

Then again, maybe Hyndman likes the results he got from Jackson off the bench in last week’s win. But since he’s been here, FCD has been a better team when he is on the field, usually as a starter but one can never guess what the gaffer will do, so it will be interesting to see if Jackson is in the starting lineup this weekend or if he again comes off the bench. Either way, expect his newfound focus to benefit his club.