9514_isi-jacobsonandrew_mlstq042614130 Tony Quinn/isiphotos.com
Player Spotlight

Andrew Jacobson Eager to Play For Kreis at NYCFC

The 28-year-old midfielder is thrilled to be playing under former U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley in Norway, but he believes that he will find an even better fit with Jason Kreis at New York City FC.
BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
September 05, 2014
3:10 PM
NEW YORK CITY FC made headlines with the high-profile signings of David Villa and Frank Lampard, but MLS rules prevent teams from having more than a handful of superstars. That's where players such as Andrew Jacobson come in.

Jacobson, 28, was acquired by NYCFC last month in a trade with FC Dallas and was immediately loaned to Stabaek for the remainder of the 2014 Norwegian season. He has moved into the team’s starting lineup and has been part of some impressive results.

In his first four league games for Stabaek, the club has wins over perennial contender Rosenborg and defending champion Stromsgodset. It also had an away draw against current leaders Molde. Stabaek has also advanced to the semifinals of the Norwegian Cup and in Norwegian football, the cup competitions is actually viewed by many as the country’s most prestigious tournament.

It has been an ideal loan move for Jacobson and the chief reason he pushed for the move was to play under the club’s coach, Bob Bradley, and to learn a new style outside of MLS. Before the loan, Jacobson had never spoken with the former U.S. national team head coach but was familiar with his coaching style and knew he would be a good fit.

“The whole thing worked out really well since I’ve gotten here,” Jacobson told American Soccer Now. “A lot of my movements have changed. I think in MLS, just covering a lot of ground you can find yourself in great holes and great situations to get on the ball. I think over here it is a little more difficult. You probably have to think a little bit more than run. Bob has really pushed me as hard as possible—when I run and where I run to. I’ve been trying to pick it up as quick as possible.

"He’s a fantastic coach.”

Stabaek has had a steady American presence in recent years. In 2008 the club won the Tippeligaen title and featured a teenage Mix Diskerud. In 2012, Sean Cunningham and Ricardo Clark were consistent starters. After that season, a complicated financial crisis hit Stabaek and the club was relegated and evicted from its stadium.

In 2014, the club returned to the Tippeligaen and hired Bob Bradley to guide the club toward stability in the top flight. As of now Stabaek are in eighth place, right in the middle of the table. In addition to Jacobson, Michael Stephens also is a regular starter – which gives the club two American midfielders in the starting lineup. The two American players get along and have provided leadership on a Stabaek team that is the youngest in the league.

“AJ has been a big help in many ways,” Stephens said. “He has played well in every game since he arrived and gives us a more physical presence in the middle. He has also been able to earn the respect of all the guys quickly, and his experience shows in how he approaches the game on and off the field. From a team standpoint our results have been much improved with him after a tough stretch before he got here—which is probably not a coincidence."

“The American presence led by Bob has been pretty good so far but definitely not a finished product,” Stephens added. “We need to find more consistency from game to game along with keeping a high level of play for the full 90.”

As a midfielder capable of playing many different positions, Jacobson has developed almost entirely in the United States. A native of Palo Alto, Calif., he attended the University of California, Berkeley. Following college he signed with FC Lorient in France but primarily due to injuries, he returned to MLS to play for DC United in 2009. After spending the 2010 season with Philadelphia he was traded to FC Dallas where he found his greatest success to date.

The experience in Norway has been an interesting period for Jacobson. While he is succeeding on the field so far, he is adapting to a different style of play.

“It’s less athletic,” Jacobson compared. “I think player for player, the guys in the MLS are faster. In MLS there is a lot higher pressure. Teams really just high press each other. I think here it is a bit more tactical. So you can’t just go out there and run and try to press everyone, everywhere. They’ll move the ball around you and you’ll be dead in 60 minutes. I think here there is a little bit less pressure on the ball and a little more time on the ball but to break teams down is probably a little bit tougher.”

Jacobson intends to bring what he learns in Norway back to NYCFC in 2015, where expectations will be high from day one. He realizes that in New York City, and with a club that is backed by the deep-pocketed owners of Manchester City, winning will be expected from the opening whistle of the opening match.

He welcomes the challenge.

“I made a really big push to go to New York,” Jacobson said. “That is where I really wanted to go. It’s [NYCFC coach] Jason Kreis. The way he had his Salt Lake teams set up—they’re idea of how to play really fits my game the best: playing with the ball on the ground and everybody moving to get into holes.

As a player, Jacobson has always enjoyed playing with the ball at his feet and as a young player he played the technically demanding game of fustal for the U.S. team at the 2008 FIFA Futsal World Cup. Kreis has found success in MLS with technical players and Jacobson believes it will be a good fit.

"At 28, I could have one more shot at getting into a World Cup," Jacobson said. "I think it’s in every player’s mind. Obviously I haven’t gotten the calls I have hoped for. Every player is going to always dream and my skill-set will come out the best with Kreis.”

Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.

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