It has been an unforgettable year for Seattle Sounders defender Yeimar.
A starter in the 2021 All-Star Game and candidate for MLS Defender of the Year, Yeimar added to his list of growing accomplishments on Wednesday as he was named to the Colombian National Team for the first time in his career. He will join Los Cafetaros for a pair of upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Brazil (Nov. 11) and Paraguay (Nov. 16).
“I’m very happy for getting called up,” Yeimar told media at Starfire Sports on Friday. “It’s a team achievement, not just me, and I’m very happy to go represent my country.”
Yeimar’s inclusion on the roster for a pair of crucial fixtures as Colombia seeks to earn a spot in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar came as a bit of a shock. At 29 years old, Seattle’s commanding center back had always dreamed of playing for his national team but the opportunities never quite materialized.
Yeimar found out about his first-ever call up when his uncle called him told him the news. Certain that his uncle was mistaken, the Sounders defender checked social media and, to his surprise, saw his name on the roster alongside Colombian legends like James Rodriguez and David Ospina.
“As a professional footballer, the dream is always that you get called up to the national team and represent the national team,” said Yeimar. “But I did not expect it at this time. That’s always been my dream. Now that I’ve got it, I’m very happy.”
Yeimar has cemented himself as one of the premier defenders in Major League Soccer across two seasons with the Seattle Sounders. Considered one of the top tenders for 2021 Defender of the Year, he leads the league in interceptions (86) and is tied for second in the league with tackles won (53).
While Yeimar’s call up to Colombia is certainly exciting as an individual accomplishment, it’s also proof of concept that talented players can come here and break into the top national teams in the world on the merit of the performances in MLS.
“It put a smile on my face,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “It just shows that the level of MLS is growing. When you have three center backs that are all playing for their respective national teams, it’s pretty good. For Yeimar to be called in at this stage of his career, it certainly shows that he’s been playing at a high level.”
Off the field, Yeimar has been an integral character in a tight-knit Sounders locker room. A soft spoken and humble person by nature, Yeimar’s teammates are thrilled to see all of his hard work pay off on the biggest stage in the global game.
“All the players are extremely happy for him because he is so reliable, so dependable,” said midfielder Cristian Roldan, who was called up to the United States Men’s National Team for their upcoming World Cup Qualifiers. “He does so much for our team and he’s really a big character in our locker room. We are so proud of him. And his smile is really infectious, so seeing him really happy about his callup is something we were really ecstatic about.”