AFC Ann Arbor are excited to welcome Jacob Pacheco to the squad for the 2019 season. Pacheco will occupy a role in the defense on the right side of a center back pairing. Coming off of an incredibly successful sophomore campaign with Pima Community College, the New Mexico native will begin a career at Siena College in Loudonville, New York, starting with his upcoming junior season. Over his two seasons as an Aztec with PCC, Pacheco helped accumulate 45 wins and back-to-back trips to the NJCAA National Semifinals, winning the tournament in 2018-19.
In this past season’s national championship winning campaign, Pacheco featured in 27 matches, starting in 25 of those. Pima finished the season with a 26-2 record, including one of those losses in the first match of the season, and completing the year on an eighteen-game winning streak. This season saw seventeen clean sheets held by the Aztecs, including just two goals in nine matches during the entire month of October (both goals coming in the same match, which they won in overtime). It was a thrilling season for the team as a whole, as the clinched the title in a double-overtime thriller, but also for Pacheco, who in addition to his defensive exploits also chipped in with a pair of goals for his side.
When asked about what drew Pacheco to AFCAA, the defender said, “The success as a club is what initially drew me to the club and the amazing community support the club receives.” The community-based atmosphere helps draw in players from all over the globe, and Pacheco is another fine player that appreciates the support The Mighty Oak receives. With plenty of big game experience already and 41 games over two seasons under his belt, Pacheco is certainly coming to the right place to continue his development as a player.
Talking about his strengths, Eric Rudland sees a lot to like in his newest piece of the defense. He gave the 6’1” CB high praise when speaking about him, as he said, “Jacob is a right center back that we are really looking forward to working with. He is a fantastic all-around center back.” Talking more pointedly about Pacheco, Rudland also added, “He has mobility, size and keen insight tactically. He is a winner who has proven himself in our league and in the college game.” Indeed, in addition to his collegiate exploits, Pacheco was a member of last season’s 10-0-0 Laredo Heat side in the NPSL. Laredo went undefeated in the regular season and made their way through the Lone Star Conference playoff qualifiers before bowing out in the regional semifinal round.
Pacheco also discussed some of his strengths, which lend themselves well to the AFCAA system. “I believe my strengths are my ability to pass out of the back. I don’t like to kick the ball forward, I enjoy keeping possession,” he stated. With the Rudland system of playing solid football while avoiding the ‘direct’ breed of football that some fans lament, Pacheco’s range in positive passing from defense is a great sign. He also adds his belief that, “I am a strong leader and do well to motivate the players around me.”
A strong mental state has assisted Pacheco as a player, just as a willingness in continuing to grow also has. “In being persistent to always develop as a player mentally and technically it has allowed me to become a solid defender,” he told AFCAA. In talking about expectations for the club’s season to come, he said, “In this being my first season with AFCAA I expect to continue the winning mentality of the origination and help win another conference title.” His hopes for himself are just as well-meaning, as he says, “I hope this experience helps develop me as a player and a young man.”
There is no question that fans can look forward to hearing and seeing much more of the young defender in the side this season. As coach Rudland even says himself, “We expect him to be a big piece of our back [four] and team success this season.” With a final message for the fans of The Mighty Oak, Pacheco said, “I want the fans to know I appreciate [their] support and giving time the wonderful opportunity to represent their club. I’ll be looking forward to meeting them!” And in turn, so too will the fans enjoy getting acclimated with Pacheco, themselves.
About AFC Ann Arbor
Founded in 2014, Association Football Club Ann Arbor launched it’s men’s semi-pro team in 2015 and has competed in the NPSL since 2016. Led by Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, the team has found great success winning back to back Great Lakes Championships (‘17 & ‘18) and earning US Open Cup bids three straight years (2017-2019). In October 2018, the club announced the launch of the women’s side, who will be skippered by Andy “Pritch” Pritchard in their inaugural season of the United Women’s Soccer national league. Owned and operated by a group of local soccer fans and entrepreneurs, AFC Ann Arbor has become a fixture in the greater Ann Arbor community.