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Learn, Build, Grow: A Look Into the Mind of a Young Goalkeeper
Jacob Jackson talked to the The Blazing Musket about his whirlwind experience of becoming the starting goalkeeper for the New England Revolution
There have been plenty of highs and lows for Jacob Jackson in his young MLS career. The New England Revolution has stepped into the starting role and will be looking to help New England win a crucial Game 2 against the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday.
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While earning his first start less than a month ago, Jackson has already earned his first MLS win and made his playoff debut. With Djordje Petrovic the clear No. 1 entering the 2023 season, Jackson ending the regular season as the starter was quite an unexpected turn to a rollercoaster of a season for Revolution fans.
The 2022 MLS SuperDraft selection has been thrown into a trial by fire as New England goes up against the Union. Daniel Gazdag, Julian Carranza, and Mikael Uhre have been a lethal attacking trio combining for 39 goals and 15 assists in 2023. Gazdag and Uhre beat Jackson as the attackers netted goals in last weekend’s matchup.
Jackson is looking to make up for the poor effort when New England takes the field on Wednesday.
“It was interesting,” Jackson said of Game 1. “I think it was a fun experience. First time for me playing [in the] playoffs and I thought for the most part, as a team, we didn’t come out as strong as we wanted to. I think it showed for a little bit, myself included, and hopefully this time we can make up for it.”
Playing goalkeeper creates an interesting mental quandary. It’s nearly certain that you will fail in keeping the ball out of the net in your career which is the main job of a goalkeeper.
For Jackson — when he allows a goal — it is all about learning and growing from the experience.
“I think it’s all about learning experience,” the young goalkeeper said on Saturday. “I actually had a conversation with a couple of guys and they said ‘you're still really, really young. You’re 23. It’s been your third game and you went from rehabbing from a knee injury about five months ago to playing a couple of games with Revs II to starting your first game and then a game later you are in the playoffs.’ I think it’s been an awesome experience and I think having to learn from the goals that have been scored on. I think I could do better on a couple of them and just trying to learn and build and grow.”
But beyond his teammates and interim head coach Clint Peay, Jackson has a valuable asset in his corner. The New England Revolution have the best goalkeeper coach in MLS in Kevin Hitchcock.
Hitchcock has helped Matt Turner and Djordje Petrovic show their potential and earned them moves to the Premier League. While Jackson has a long way to go to make a move like that having a goalkeeper coach of Hitchcock’s caliber is a massive benefit for a young goalkeeper.
“I’ve had a couple of goalie coaches just through college through Academy at RSL but nothing touches him,” the goalkeeper said of Hitchcock. “He knows what he is doing and he gives you the confidence to go in there even after the couple goals we’ve given up. He’s still believing in me and giving me that confidence.”
Jackson has been thrown into a tough situation but he has handled it like a veteran. The young goalkeeper is doing his best after being thrown into the deep end and constantly praises the other goalkeepers on the roster.
While his ability to be a full-time MLS starter remains to be seen, the goalkeeper deserves praise for how he has stepped into the starter role. New England’s season could have ended in disaster but there appears to be some hope in the club as the Revs face a must-win match on Wednesday.