2011 Season in Review: Jackson Goncalves

TORONTO, CANADA - JULY 20: Jackson Goncalves #6 of FC Dallas laughs after a shot against Toronto FC during MLS action at BMO Field July 20, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

This should be a fun one. Jackson, love him or hate him, is an immensely interesting and even mysterious player. The quiet Brazilian has played basically every position on the field, has a body made of glass, left the team to get married in Brazil, and barely speaks a lick of English so we never hear from him.

Along with all these crazy attributes, Jackson is a versatile, young, cheap glue guy that is capable of the sensational while prone to the maddeningly frustrating as well. The Brazilian started the season at his traditional right back role but was moved up the field as the season went on and the back 4 remained healthy. You wonder if this is the first time in MLS history that a player starting at right back for the first two games of the season was the starting forward at the end of the year. This is a guy that seems to go in and out of Schellas Hyndman's doghouse more than any player since Dax McCarty.

Jackson finished the season with 28 appearances, 22 starts, 4 goals, 2 assists and 53 shots. He was fourth on the team in goals and third in shots.

Keep reading for pros, cons, best moment of the year and worst moment of the year

Pros

Hugely versatile at a good price As we've said in the past, in MLS a player is measured on production relative to their contract number and having a player like Jackson that can plug holes in many different areas at a contract(just over $100k) that you can stomach is a huge asset. He may not excel at any one position, but he's good at about 5 different spots on the pitch.

The potential for greatness Outside of Brek Shea and David Ferreira, Jackson can create a goal out of nothing better than anyone else on the roster. He's got the capability of dribbling through 3 or 4 defenders and creating a chance that you rarely see in MLS.

Just 23 years old He may look like he's 30 with the hair of a 50 year old, but Jackson is still young and if you can find the right fit for him in the lineup, he can be a huge piece to the puzzle of a good team.

Best Moment

July 2, 2011 FCD took on Columbus in front of a sold out Pizza Hut Park. Jackson was absolutely fantastic in this one, with the second goal being one of the coolest moments of the season. Honorable mention to the 4-0 Portland game.

Cons

A victim of his own success It seems like the more offensive success Jackson has, the more he wants to shoot even when the obvious pass is there. This wasn't a problem earlier in the season, but my lasting impression of Jackson is in the last few games of the season when he would push forward in attack, choosing to shoot from 25 rather than passing to an open Shea or Chavez. Will this be a lasting problem? Something to track closely in 2012.

What is his best position? While his versatility is definitely a plus, the fact that Jackson doesn't have a defined position is a problem. When asked about this last year, Schellas said that Jackson will tell you he's a forward, but in reality he's probably a right mid. The Brazilian is at his best when making his fantastic runs from deep to latch onto through balls.

Where's his head at? As I previously mentioned, Jackson does some very strange stuff. He will pick up very random injuries, coming off in the first half of games with injuries only to return the next week, and will just go mentally AWOL. Hopefully this is something that goes away as he gets older.

Worst Moment

I'd say Jackson's worst moment was the playoff loss to New York Red Bull. Starting at forward, Jackson was pretty much lost up top on his own, coming too deep to get passes and either failing to get on the end of crosses or spurning those chances poorly. I think we can all agree that Jackson is not a lone forward.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the season, I was ready to send Jackson back to Brazil. I've waited to review his play for awhile to let the sting of 2011 wear off allowing me to look at things a little more logically. Besides Brek Shea, Jackson may have the highest ceiling on the team. He's immensely talented, but there's some problems between his ears that limit him from reaching full potential.

In the end though, I think Jackson can be a huge part of things in 2012 if Schellas can find the right fit for him and Jackson can settle down and just play his game. I'm excited to see what the Brazilian can do next year and, in my opinion, he starts the season as the backup right mid behind Marvin Chavez as the first option off the bench.

Final 2011 grade: B

Previous Season in Review features:

Schellas Hyndman

Fabian Castillo

Zach Loyd

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