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LAFC 2018 Player Postmortem: Dejan Jakovic

Reserve defender played key role for expansion side.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Vancouver Whitecaps
Jakovic (left) saw considerable minutes in 2018.
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Dejan Jakovic was a surprise signing for Los Angeles Football Club in 2018. The Canadian center back had spent five seasons with D.C. United from 2009-13, before playing in Japan and then spending the NASL’s final season (so far!) with the New York Cosmos.

32 years old at the start of the season, Jakovic was expected to be center back depth for LAFC. As it turned out, he played a pretty important role in the debut season, right away.

First, Walker Zimmerman got injured and/or failed a fitness test in the pregame warm-ups ahead of LAFC’s first regular season game, against the Seattle Sounders. In stepped Jakovic, and he and center back partner Laurent Ciman were enormous, pretty much dealing with a barrage from the Sounders but holding firm in a 1-0 smash-and-grab win to start off LAFC’s history on the best note.

He ended up starting the first three games, and over the course of the season played 1,300 minutes across all competitions.

Jakovic 2018 LAFC statistics

2018 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2018 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
MLS Regular Season 15 13 1,147 0 0 3 0 2 1
U.S. Open Cup 3 1 153 0 1 1 0 0 0
MLS Playoffs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 18 14 1,300 0 1 4 0 2 1

In the end, Jakovic was a pretty vital member of the team for LAFC. Sure, he was never first choice at his position, but between injuries to Zimmerman and then Danilo Silva, Laurent Ciman going out on international duty in the summer, and then his sale, Jakovic was arguably the most important backup on the roster. He probably played more minutes than LAFC were expecting, but with a maximum of four center backs, and nearly all of the season featuring just three true CBs, Jakovic’s role was important.

As for Jakovic’s level of play, I think he played much better in 2018 than I expected. It’s not that he wasn’t any good, but even in his MLS heyday with D.C. United, no one would have regarded Jakovic as a top defender in the league. With five years since that spell, it seemed quite possible that he would have fallen off a cliff in the meantime and simply wouldn’t have been up for the challenge.

But LAFC were 10-6-2 in the games Jakovic played in 2018 across all competitions. Defense was a liability the whole season, even if the team was among the most successful expansion teams in league history, but Jakovic more than held his own over the campaign. He firmly remained a backup throughout the season, but he definitely did a job, as they say.

At the same time, LAFC have yet to offer Jakovic a contract for 2019, and it seems likely he won’t be returning, as he’s eligible for Friday’s Re-Entry Draft. I think LAFC did well with Jakovic and the Canadian international probably played his best in 2018. But again, with defense being a liability for the club, it’s natural for them to try and upgrade, which hopefully they’ll do. Still, it may have been an unsung job, but I think Dejan Jakovic filled his brief about as well as could be expected for LAFC in 2018.

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