Yeimar remembers a year that was a roller coaster, both on and off the pitch

Yeimar calling the past year one full of ups and downs, is a gigantic understatement to say the least. From a team aspect, the seattle probes collectively they went from looking unstoppable at the start of 2022, crowning themselves Concacaf kings, to looking gloomy and at times uninspired during the final games of the regular season. Disappointing play that ultimately resulted in Seattle missing the playoffs for the first time since joining MLS.

Individually, over the past two seasons, the Tado, Colombia native has been so reliable and consistent that this campaign, in which he started 26 games of 34 league games, felt far below his standard. The defender struggled with a few injuries that, while they didn’t keep him out for long periods of time, seemed to affect his reaction time, closing speed and hampered some of his overall defense.

“I’m just not used to getting injured, even if it’s from a player accidentally falling on the back of my leg,” Yeimar said with a half smile as he seemed amused by his own dry humor.

“Getting hurt in it los angeles galaxy I play only a few games in the [MLS] The season made it a challenge for me to stay in top shape, it took me a few months to be in good shape and twice as long to feel 100%.

Putting his body of work under a microscope, it can be said that there were a few regular season games where Yeimar didn’t look at his best. Several of those unusual performances from one of the league’s highest-rated defenders were the result of nagging aches and pains, which the Colombian had to endure.

Unlike last season, “El Tanque” was not selected for the All-Star Game, was not on the final ballot for the MLS Defender of the Year and was not called up by the Colombian team in any of their last friendlies or camps. of training. . All recognitions that although they are not definitive objectives, can make many players feel that so many immediate successes have had a slight setback in their career.

Ironically, even while battling the uncharted waters of injuries, Yeimar managed to once again lead the league in interceptions and rank in the top 10 in defensive punting. Without a doubt, a great credit to his phenomenal athleticism, talent, as well as his commitment to the Rave Green.

It is this commitment that pushed Yeimar to put his body on the line to be able to play the historic Concacaf on two legs. Champions League final. The effort came with just a handful of training sessions and clearly not fully recovered from his injury, Yeimar was crucial in the two games that ultimately delivered the Sounders their most illustrious and momentous title.

Being a part of that championship team outweighs any additional success or individual accolades he might have earned in the MLS regular season.

“That commanding victory over Pumas was the best night of my life as a professional soccer player,” Yeimar said as he looked across the room where his CCL medal still hung.

“That final spell in ‘Conca-Champions’ really showed what this team is capable of, when we all play to our potential and everyone is healthy. I couldn’t be more proud of what we were able to achieve and the joy we brought to our fans by lifting an international cup in their own stadium.”

That said, the Sounders center made no commitment to calling the year an overall success simply because as a team they didn’t hit all the targets. Although he clarified that 2022 cannot be considered a failure either, when the only goal reached historical significance as becoming the first club in the existence of a league to win the biggest tournament on the continent.

In other words, it seemed that Yeimar felt that this year was the equivalent of a “nudge” at the blackjack table, a conclusion that many would find reasonable, all things considered, even if he wished more had been accomplished. That is perhaps the main reason why he seemed to constantly steer the conversation toward what was to come rather than the past, which was the topic at hand.

“It was a year filled with monumental ups and downs, frustrating downs, but I have confidence in this club and our group of players to achieve great things in 2023,” is how Yeimar described the past nine months.

There is no doubt that this year will be exciting for Rave Green, but also extremely challenging. The sounders will have to prepare to compete in two additional large tournaments; Leagues Cup under a new format and the long-awaited Club World Cup where the club will represent CONCACAF.

That responsibility is a responsibility this talented group will take on head-on and will need every player on their roster to contribute throughout 2023 in one way or another when rotations become necessary, Yeimar said. Whether or not the new players will boost this current team remains to be seen, depending on what the month of January looks like. transfer window it shows. For now though, the defender is seizing the moment and shared his initial thoughts on what it means for him to face the best clubs in the game.

“There are no words to describe how important it will be to play in the Club World Cup,” Yeimar said. “It will be a special moment for all of us.

“Just seeing the [UEFA] The Champions League final felt different this year. As soon as Real Madrid defeat Liverpoolall I could think of was my chance to face a legendary club like Real with a trophy on the line.”

In addition to fulfilling the childhood dream of anyone who grew up loving the beautiful game, hearing Yeimar talk about his desire to do everything humanly possible to help put the Sounders on an even higher pedestal on an international spectrum sounded ambitious. but genuine and from a place. of love for the shield that he has been defending for three seasons now.

If one thing is certain, it’s that the 30-year-old is determined to be in the best physical shape of his career for a season that will provide a global stage unlike any other MLS club. Yeimar hopes his team can use this arena to showcase the brand of soccer that has made Seattle one of the most successful teams in North America over the past decade.

It is because of that devotion to the club that was so important to Yeimar Gómez Andrade that Rave Green reciprocated that interest by giving him a contract extension until 2024 with two additional years of club options.

“Having the club trust me with an extension pushes me to go even further to be the best defender in this league and help bring home more titles,” he said of the new deal.

Yeimar has been the Sounders’ most consistent and effective defender since Chad Marshall’s heyday. That alone makes securing “El Tanque” for additional seasons an absolute no-brainer, but it’s the way he’s connected to Sounders culture and club identity that makes him such a staple in the future list construction.

“I couldn’t be happier to know that I will be defending this jersey for years to come,” he said. “Winning the first major title of my career here has made my bond with this club and this fan base unbreakable.”

Listening to YGA share how momentous his time with the Sounders has been, it’s easy to hear the sincerity behind his words and how excited he is to continue championing the Rave Green colors for seasons to come. Even with major changes within the organisation, such as the departure of Garth Lagerwey, Yeimar’s confidence in the club and how far his team can go this year remains intact.

“In my time here, I have seen Gonzo, Djimi [Traore] and other important people from the club are leaving, but this organization remains strong, continues to win trophies,” said the Sounders defenseman.

However, he did not dismiss the reality that Lagerwey would be missed, not only because he was good at his job, but also because his former General Manager always seemed to truly believe in Yeimar’s abilities, and always looked forward to seeing him on the field.

“Garth was great, a nice guy too, I wish him the best,” Yeimar said. “But Craig has been here a while and I know he gets the kind of respect that he gets at the club, respect that usually comes from excelling at what you do.”

Regardless of this year’s new challenges, front office changes and even new teammates, Yeimar finished 2022 on a high enough note to feel like he could take on absolutely anything. Interestingly, that high note was on a personal level, but he feels he will keep his momentum going until 2023.

Yeimar was referring to welcoming his second son, Titian, into the world in early December. Gomez Andrade has not only been spending his offseason in the gym preparing for the upcoming season, but he feels the new addition to his family will bring the positive vibes that will make him feel like this will be a season to remember.

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