|Niki Jackson sees action, and success, with Independence|
|Striker makes most of loan from Rapids|
|Published Sunday, July 7, 2019 10:23 pm|
|PHOTO | TROY HULL|
|Charlotte Independence striker Niki Jackson has make significant contributions since joining the team from the MLS Colorado Rapids in April.|
MATTHEWS—Niki Jackson needs playing time.
He stated the importance of seeing minutes as a striker when the Colorado Rapids, the Charlotte Independence’s former MLS affiliate, sent him east on loan. With an MLS career that includes one start in 17 appearances and three goals as a rookie to 19 minutes in 2019, the Rapids saw a need for him to find playing time elsewhere.
“We had a long discussion about it [in Colorado],” Jackson said when he arrived in April. “They said ‘we want you here, we want you playing, but right now we need you playing. We’re going to send you out to Charlotte where it’s very competitive, the players are good, the competition is good. We want you to go out there and score some goals.’ For me, I was excited. Every pro wants to be playing, especially at a young age. You want to be playing. You don’t want to be sitting down watching. Even if I’m making the 18-man roster, if I’m on the bench, it’s not as impactful for a young player to be sitting down, rather than playing a full 90 minutes.”
Jackson, whom Colorado selected 73rd overall in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, joined Charlotte on April 12. He immediately joined the starting rotation and scored on April 13. He played 70 minutes in the Jacks’ 1-0 win against Pittsburgh tonight, and has played 554 minutes since arriving in Charlotte.
Jackson, who started three games before injuring his hamstring on April 20, returned to the starting XI for two games in June, prior to Charlotte firing head coach Jim McGuinness. Now firmly fit, Jackson started two games under new coach Mike Jeffries—their July 4 draw at NCFC, where he scored the equalizing goal, as well as an assist on midfielder Alex Martinez’s goal in the win against Pittsburgh.
“He played very well tonight,” Jeffries said. “What he brings is the ability to run behind defenses, the ability to hold balls in. He’s got a good way in the final third. It’s nice to have options that we believe in up front.”
Charlotte is on a six-game unbeaten run, five of which are under Jeffries. The Jacks have won all three three home games since Jeffries replaced McGuinness.
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