What a long and winding road it has been.
Not to mention a fascinating one.
For midfielder Andrew Jacobson, completing this expansion season with the Union has been a tremendous experience, one that he’ll never forget.
“It’s been great,” Jacobson told philadelphiaunion.com after training at PPL Park on Wednesday. “It has meant a lot to me to be part of this club in this first season. The atmosphere has been amazing. The fans have been there for us all season. They’ve really made us feel at home. I’ve enjoyed it and I hope to continue to be a part of it after the season.”
After being acquired from DC United in the 2009 expansion draft, Jacobson steadily improved and gave the technical staff a reliable force in the middle. Drafted by United in ’08, Jacobson spent time with FC Lorient of France’s Ligue 1 before re-signing with United in Feb. of ’09.
Then came the expansion draft and it was off to Philadelphia.
Jacobson even started and played 90 minutes in the Union's first-ever match at Seattle on March 25.
In between that match and Sunday’s final one at Columbus, there have been peaks and valleys for the club. While playing time hasn't always been there for Jacobson, who has played roughly half of the available minutes for the Union, just being able to experience this landmark season has been invaluable.
“There’s nothing like game experience for a player,” Jacobson said. “Going back to that opening match in Seattle where none of the guys had really played with each other, we did pretty well and had our chances. We had all those games on the road to start the season because of the stadium. These guys hung together very well and I think we really improved a lot as the season went on.”
[inline_node:287778]As the season went on, Jacobson began to jell more and more with his new teammates. He also impressed opposing coaches.
Go back to July 21 when the Union played a strong match in a 1-0 loss to Manchester United at Lincoln Financial Field. After the match, legendary Man Utd. manager Sir Alex Ferguson singled out Jacobson as one of the players he was impressed with during the action.
“It’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Jacobson said. “He’s a guy who has been involved in this sport forever. You know what was funny about that? I didn’t think I had one of my better games. But to be mentioned like that meant a lot to me. It’s a motivating factor for sure when you’re mentioned like that from a coach who knows more about soccer than you’ve forgotten. It’s something that will always be very special to me.”
The whole season has been special to Jacobson.
In some matches, it was somewhat frustrating when the Union didn’t get the desired result because of a slight gaffe here and there.
But there were also many bright spots, such as the Union’s stunning 3-2 win at Houston on May 29.
“I remember that Houston game where we were down and came back to win,” Jacobson said. “We were down and then we came back on the road. That was a very big win for us because it showed us we could do it. It showed how much heart we had. All season, we played with heart. We may not always have done the right thing, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. That Houston game will always stand out because it proved we could come back on the road.”
They’ll have one last shot to win on the road against the Crew.
“It’s important to try and finish the season with a win,” Jacobson said. “We’ve been working hard and keeping the same mindset that we have all season. We’ll go in there and play our game. We know we can beat good teams. For us, we have to execute. If we can do that, we know we’re a good team.”