The Seattle Sounders continue to prepare for Round One of the 2021 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs against Real Salt Lake (7:30 p.m. PT; FS1, FOX Deportes, 1090 KJR AM, El Rey 1360AM | TICKETS) at Lumen Field on November 23. The Rave Green have qualified for 13 consecutive postseasons, reaching MLS Cup in four of the last five years. For the Sounders, there is only one path forward: straight ahead.
In advance of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, we're breaking down the key players to watch. Here's everything you need to know about Yeimar.
ROLE IN THE SQUAD
For the first time since Chad Marshall retired early in the 2019 season, the Seattle Sounders have a penciled-in rock in central defense. Xavier Arreaga, Shane O’Neill, Nouhou and AB Cissoko have all been key contributors on the league’s best defense, but no one has quite been as prolific as the hulking Colombian. He operates on the right side of Head Coach Brian Schmetzer’s three center back system and is consistently in the right place at the right time to put out potential fires. He’s an underrated passer out of the back and his ability in the air defensively as well as on offensive set pieces makes him invaluable.
REGULAR SEASON RECAP
It was a breakout year for Yeimar, who is in his second season in Seattle after joining from the Argentine first division in early 2020. He came to the United States not long before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, yet nevertheless managed to settle in and have a productive year before truly coming into his own this season. He was an MLS All-Star, is a finalist for MLS Defender of the Year and is almost assuredly an MLS Best XI selection. He led the league in interceptions, was tied for first in tackles won, was fifth in clearances and sixth in aerial duels won. He was also incredibly durable and available, starting 29 matches and playing in 33, recording over 2,600 minutes.
BEST QUOTE ABOUT YEIMAR
“He’s very good about reading opposition runs. He’s very good at reading the flight of the ball, when to step and when not. The guy is incredibly athletic but he’s got a soccer brain that’s above most. So, I think he’s been very good this year and hopefully for many years to come.” - Kelyn Rowe
TOP PLAY OF 2021
While the defensive plays were numerous, Yeimar scored his lone goal of the campaign in June at the LA Galaxy, a 41st-minute equalizer that helped the Sounders take all three points.
Yeimar should be flying high for the playoffs fresh off his first international call-up with Colombia, and he’ll need to ride that momentum if Seattle is going to make it to its fifth MLS Cup appearance in six years. So many postseason matches are decided by the smallest of margins, and the Sounders will need to bring the defensive fortitude they showed all year into what is hopefully four final contests. Yeimar is often tasked with eliminating the opposition’s best attacking threat, and he’ll need to be locked in on Damir Kreilach (16 goals, 9 assists) when Real Salt Lake comes to Lumen Field in the opening round on Tuesday, Nov. 23 (7:30 p.m. PT; FS1, FOX Deportes, 1090 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS).