Aziel Jackson is a 21-year-old attacking midfielder from the United States who plays for Major League Soccer club St. Louis CITY SC. He was acquired from Minnesota United at the beginning of the season after impressing with their reserve team. Jackson has been playing mostly as a right midfielder or a pressing 10 for St. Louis. In head coach Bradley Carnell’s system, AZ Jackson is asked to hound the opposing ball carrier when it is on his side and to help win the ball when it is in the middle. Jackson’s best attributes are on display when he is running toward goal in transition.
AZ Jackson is a high-energy counterattacking threat who thrives in transition moments. The acceleration and ball control on the sprint is what immediately stands out with Jackson. Upon watching closer, his ability to combine in midfield and play first time passes is also impressive and makes him more versatile as a counterattacking specialist. This comfort operating in tight spaces makes him harder to defend. If defenders give Jackson space to run, he will take it gladly and can finish from outside the box. If defenders step to Aziel in midfield, he can work around them with composed one-touch passing and explosive acceleration. Against Union Omaha in the US Open Cup, Jackson had a breakout game. He opened the scoring after picking up the ball near the midfield line, dribbling inward from the right side and punishing the retreating defense with his favored left foot.
Jackson’s preference is to run at goal, attacking any space he is given. AZ is at a good club for his strengths and I hope he gets plenty of play time to compete for a starting role. For his development, I would love to see an improvement in his vision as he enters the final third. His opportunistic play style will lead to a couple of goals due to the nature of his team’s system and his own tidy finishing ability, but the most significant mark of improvement will be in his chance creation. Jackson’s progressive dribbling and second man pressing will earn him minutes, but his execution of team-specific final third patterns will earn him regular starts. I am very high on Aziel Jackson and was confused why Minnesota let him leave. Jackson is very fun to watch and shows a lot of promise.