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LAFC 2020 player postmortem: Dejan Jakovic

Playing more than expected, the veteran wraps tenure with solid campaign.

Vancouver Whitecaps v Los Angeles FC

Of all the surprise developments of the 2020 season, I think perhaps the biggest was that Dejan Jakovic played 20 games for LAFC.

Even in a normal season, 20 games would have been a lot, but with LAFC playing just 30 games across all competitions on the year, that Jakovic played in two-thirds of the games was definitely unexpected.

Jakovic was a veteran center back who had some questions surrounding him from the point when he signed with LAFC ahead of the 2018 season. He was a veteran, yes, but it had been several years since he had played in MLS, and the league had changed quite a bit in that span. Was he up for it?

He was never a regular in 2018 and 2019, a rotational option in LAFC’s expansion season and an insurance policy in 2019, even going on loan to Las Vegas Lights that year to get some game time.

But in 2020, things changed. Walker Zimmerman was traded to Nashville SC right before the start of the season. Concacaf Champions League starts up, LAFC have to play Tristan Blackmon at right back, and the center backs are Eddie Segura, Danilo Silva and Jakovic. Silva’s durability issues put him behind the eight ball and it was Jakovic’s time!

Here are Jakovic’s stats from 2020:

Dejan Jakovic LAFC 2020 Statistics

2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 16 12 1,075 1 0 3 1 2 0
MiB Knockouts 2 2 180 0 0 0 0 0 0
Playoffs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
CCL 2 2 180 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 20 16 1,435 1 0 3 1 2 0

At the MLS is Back Tournament, I was genuinely impressed with Jakovic’s play. He’s never been a fast player, and to an extent that probably helped extend his career, because he never lost elite pace since he didn’t have it in the first place. But coming out of the shutdown, he looked sharp and agile and honestly a lot better than expected. Was he at Zimmerman’s level? No. But he held his own alongside Segura in that tournament.

But once the teams returned to the local phase of play in the season and played basically two games a week, I think Jakovic hit a wall, hard. He turned 35 during the season and the freshness he had in Orlando disappeared, for understandable reasons. And before long, LAFC were shipping goals and in need of an upgrade, which they got in central defense in October with Jesús David Murillo.

Jakovic didn’t play a ton down the stretch and in the offseason, LAFC opted to part ways with him, the club signing teenage center backs Mohamed Traore and Tony Leone as players they’ll look to develop in the coming years and use on a rotational basis. I don’t think it was an unexpected outcome, honestly.

And yet, I think it’s worth noting once again that Jakovic was dogged throughout his LAFC tenure by suspicions he was not at the level, and he still outperformed even modest expectations. He hit a wall, yes, but we knew he wasn’t going to earn MLS Best XI. For a while, he was better than expected, before reverting to the mean. And, it should be noted, the defensive frailties for LAFC weren’t down to him alone. There was plenty of blame to go around on that count.

Jakovic recently shared a goodbye message with the LAFC community, and it’s unclear if he’s going to try and extend his career somewhere else or retire from his pro playing days.

He was not a player who spoke to the media a lot, but the Canadian occasionally had an offbeat answer, which was great for the reporters to mix things up, and he appeared to be a great professional at LAFC. Best of luck to Dejan, and thanks to him for the memories.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.