Simeon Jackson does what you want most from a striker: he scores goals. Sixty-one goals over his professional career, and that's at the age of twenty-one. By the time he was twenty-one, Rob Friend wasn't even a first-teamer.
Unfortunately, he's been playing against nobody in particular. Jackson is currently the best player on his Gillingham squad, having over twice as many goals as second-place striker Andy Barcham and is behind only veteran strikers Grant Holt of Shrewsbury Town and Charlie MacDonald of Brentford for the League Two lead. You could hardly ask for more, but it is only League Two. He's the prototypical big fish in a small pond.
His results have been mixed against stiffer competition. In an FA Cup tie against Aston Villa in January he scored a spectacular goal, skinning a pretty good defender in Zat Knight, and got plenty of press as a result. On the other hand, he has yet to put up any numbers internationally, and in seven career U-20 starts he mustered precisely no goals and one yellow card.
Of course, he was hardly the only player in that vintage of U-20s who couldn't score a goal if you put a pound of bacon in the back of the net. And we all remember the excuses from our abortion of a World Cup: the midfield wasn't giving the strikers service, the problem was a lack of consistency rather than a lack of skill, the coaching was hopelessly faulty, and so on and so forth. The fact is that on the biggest stages he's yet faced, Jackson has an iffy record.
He's got a future somewhere on this national team. Dale Mitchell picked him for our last qualifying match, even if he didn't play, and with the form he's shown since you could knock me over with a feather if he didn't end up on our Gold Cup roster. And, let's face it, being able to pile in goals against mediocre competition is a good skill for a Canadian striker to have: if Jackson is only ever good for putting away guys like Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, he'll have more than covered the bet.
Born in Jamaica, Jackson looks like he's going to be our reverse David Hoilett, although Jackson did move to Canada as a youngster and has pretty well grown up in red and white. I'm not hugely high on Jackson (or Hoilett, for that matter), but he's been getting it done against professional players and that's more than you can say for any of our other young strikers. He's sure done a hell of a lot more than his old teammate Andrea Lombardo did.
Being a small, pacey player, Jackson fills a weakness for us; Occean, Friend, and Gerba are all big target men. But Dwayne de Rosario, Tomasz Radzinski, and Iain Hume all played a lot of striker as young men on their clubs and all are mostly used at midfield for Canada, particularly on the wing. With Radzinski probably out of the picture by the next World Cup cycle, I wouldn't be surprised to see Jackson forced into that sort of role with Canada. It would hardly be the first time Canada's played a man out of position.
Short-term Outlook: A callup to the Gold Cup roster, a match or two, and not much achieved besides giving us all hope for the future.
Long-term Outlook: Modestly successful international career. Bangs in a couple, fades into obscurity, I write a "Whatever Happened To Simeon Jackson?" post in 2015 or so.
I like Simeon, I really do. But if there's one thing I've learned from watching Canadian soccer players, it's that you better not hold your breath until they start playing some good games against good players.