It was the ultimate compliment.
Following Manchester United’s 1-0 victory over Philadelphia Union last Wednesday at Lincoln Financial Field, Red Devils manager Sir Alex Ferguson singled out midfielder Andrew Jacobson for his stellar play.
Let’s be honest: Ferguson is a legend and has managed some of the all-time greats. So to have him mention Jacobson specifically had to be special.
“In the first half, I thought their central midfield players were very good, very aggressive,” Ferguson said. “They got to the ball really quickly and transferred the ball well to the front players and caused us a bit of a problem. In the second half, (Andrew) Jacobson did really well for them. He got into spaces behind our midfield in front of his striker and they caused us a bit of bother at times.”
High praise, for sure.
“I thought it was really cool and I was kind of like, ‘Was he really talking about me?’” Jacobson said. “I felt like I played well, but to hear that from a man who has been so successful for so long in this sport meant a lot to me. It was a bit shocking, but I’ll take it.”
The 24-year-old Jacobson has been a steadying influence the entire season for the Union.
Seeing the improvement of this club as a whole has been especially gratifying.
“I feel like we’ve all gotten so much better as a unit since pre-season training began,” Jacobson said. “This club was put together with a purpose in mind of being a team, and we are seeing results. It doesn’t happen overnight. We had a tough start on the road, but now with the schedule evening out and guys getting more experience, I think we’re really starting to come together.”
Jacobson was plucked by the Union technical staff in the expansion draft.
Last season, he played for D.C. United, the club that originally selected him in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft. Jacobson played in 17 league games with eight starts and racked up 845 minutes of playing time with United. His lone goal of the season came in a 2-1 win over the Harrisburg City Islanders in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals.
In ’08, Jacobson had signed a contract with F.C. Lorient of France’s Ligue 1 after being taken by D.C. United in the second round, 24th overall, but he broke his foot soon after joining the French side.
Jacobson was healthy last season, though, and he has been very solid in 2010 for the expansion Union. Starting seven matches and seeing time in 11, the midfielder has played a total of 566 minutes on the season. While he hasn't registered any goals or assists for Philadelphia yet, his impact as a holding presence goes beyond statistics.
“I feel great physically,” Jacobson said. “I feel like I’m healthy and I’m fit to play at a very high level. We are getting better as a team, and I think being fit is so important. We have a couple guys battling injuries. I think we’re going in a solid direction as a team, and I am very excited for this season and beyond.
“Being in Philadelphia has been a terrific experience for me. The fans are amazing. The staff is great. The guys in the locker room are all team guys. I’m looking forward to everything that is happening with this organization.”
It was the ultimate compliment.