His name is memorable, but Jackson McCracken brought more than just that to the Orange County Blues in 2015.
The right back, part of a cohort of rookies on the Blues who had previously played collegiately at Loyola Marymount, had arguably the best season of the lot, as he emerged as the starter at the position over the course of the season.
McCracken was mostly a stay-at-home fullback, as Josh Suggs on the left did most of the attacking from the back, leaving the rookie to keep his assignment simple and look to provide cover in the back when necessary. Given the steady role, he rarely shined, instead slotting into the team and quietly doing his job. But considering he turned out to be the go-to right back on the roster, and played key minutes down the stretch as OC finished the season atop the Western Conference, he certainly did his part in helping the defense do its job.
Here were McCracken's statistics in 2015:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|USL Regular Season||22||14||1,535||0||2||5||1||1||0|
|U.S. Open Cup||1||1||90||0||0||0||0||0||0|
McCracken is 23, has a season in Oliver Wyss' system under his belt, and is a local. He seems like a prime candidate to return to the club for 2016, and I think it's pretty likely it happens. Fullback is simultaneously the easiest and hardest position to fill in soccer. Players are chucked into those positions all the time, with time given to "learn on the job" unlike any other place on the field. But when you find a solid fullback, a team usually has a headache taken away.
So Jack McCracken may have turned heads around USL more for his colorful name than his steady play, but for the Blues he had an effective season. No word yet on whether he'll be back, but at the moment it seems like a no-brainer.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!