Jacori Hayes had a breakout year in 2018. In only his second MLS season, Jacori saw his playing time increase dramatically, compared to his scant 90 minutes of action for the entirety of 2017. Hayes would have quite the impact early in the season, but would see a huge dip in playing time after the All-Star break. In fact, it is almost as if he had two completely different seasons, one before the break, and one after. The first half of the season saw Hayes as the rising star of the team, while the second half of the season saw him as the forgotten man on the bench.
Across all competitions, Jacori started 11 matches, substituted in seven matches, and was an unused sub in 16 matches. Hayes saw a his MLS minutes increase to 998 minutes in 2018, plus another 121 minutes in the US Open Cup, and would end the season with one goal, one assist, three yellow cards, 18 key passes, 43 tackles, 22 interceptions, he drew almost two fouls per game, and had 85.9% passing accuracy.
Game that best sums up Jacori
How stark were the differences between the first half, and the second half of the season? From March 3, 2018 to June 24, 2018, Jacori saw a total of 999 minutes across all competitions. From June 25, 2018 to the playoff loss against Portland, he saw a total of 120 minutes of action. For this very reason, we will take a look at two games, that sum up Jacori Hayes in 2018.
No game best sums up Jacoris breakout season, better than the April 14 match at the New England Revolution. He would have a Man of the Match performance, that saw FC Dallas remain undefeated on the road, and hand the Revolution their first home loss of the season. Jacori would finish the night with 79.8% passing accuracy (a season low at that time), he would beat three defenders on the dribble, draw four fouls, eight tackles, two interceptions, and he would score the game winning goal:
The stats alone do not do Jacori’s play any justice, as in peak form, Jacori was nearly impossible to knock off the ball, and he excelled at starting counter plays off of defensive turnovers. Scuffed has an excellent Twitter thread that depict all of the above:
Jacori Hayes, 22, only made 3 appearances last season for FC Dallas, totaling 90 minutes. New era for him. With Acosta injured, he’s started every game this season at CM, and he's seized the chance. Got GIFs from his MOTM performance Saturday against New England. pic.twitter.com/nsegqYTsFi— Scuffed (@zlebmada) April 17, 2018
Don’t let the low passing percentage fool you, for the better part of the first half of the season, Jacori lead FC Dallas with over 90% passing accuracy.
No game best sums up Jacoris miserable second half of the season, than the August 30 match against San Jose Earthquakes. Jacori saw his first start in over two months, at defensive midfielder, and was victimized by San Jose. No play was more painful, than the Earthquakes third goal:
While statistically Hayes did not have a bad game, he was constantly muscled around by San Jose. FC Dallas suffered an embarrassing 3-1 home loss, and following this match, he never saw the pitch for FCD the remainder of the season. In his final seven matches that he played, Jacori saw his passing average drop to under 80% average.
No player needs the start of a new season, more than Jacori Hayes. His diminished role in the second half of the season, was a perfect storm of several things working against him. There was Kellyn Acosta returning from injury, combined with Jacori’s drop in form, and Ulloa raising his play. Then there was the addition of Abel Aguilar following Kellyn’s departure, and Urruti taking over the spot vacated by Mauro Diaz. It all just worked to derail Hayes down the stretch.
Going into next season, Jacori has a lot of things going for him. Only 23 years old, Jacori is heading into only his third MLS season, and has a very friendly salary ($75,750). Combine that with the possibility that several players ahead of him in the depth chart may not return next season, and he could be in line to have an even bigger impact come 2019.