Seattle Sounders FC announced on Wednesday the signing of Colombian center back Yeimar Gómez Andrade from Argentinian Superliga side Unión de Sante Fe.
Gómez Andrade, 27, is a rangy player with a formidable mixture of defensive skills, elite anticipation and a physical tool set that will help strengthen the reigning MLS Cup champions’ back line.
“He fit the profile that we have for that position,” said Sporting Director Chris Henderson. “We have a couple of different profiles, but the one that the coaching staff wanted, he fit that. He’s played at a high level in Argentina.”
Standing at 6’2” and 200 lbs., the eight-year veteran of the Argentine first division is an absolute force on aerial balls, routinely knocking away crosses and posing a threat on attacking set pieces. But what makes Gómez Andrade such an exciting talent at are his defensive instincts and mastery of his craft.
The Colombian defender is exceptional at initiating contact with opposing forwards, putting them off balance before stepping in front and winning the ball. He also takes great angles when in 1-v-1 situations, as he denies the player a path to goal while also cutting off any passing lanes to teammates.
“He fits a lot of what we’re looking for in this position,” added Henderson. “Physically, he’s intimidating. He’s fast. He’s a great man-marker. His interceptions and stealing balls will help us transition into the attack.”
Center back is one of the few positions in soccer where players should be evaluated as a tandem rather than as individuals. Central defenders are tasked with both shielding the goalkeeper and initiating possession, making it critical to strike the right balance between the two players.
In the second half of last season, Xavier Arreaga consistently demonstrated that he is in the league’s upper-echelon of ball-playing center backs. Paired with Gómez Andrade’s elite defensive resume, and the Sounders could have one of the strongest center back partnerships in MLS.
“Last year we had Román Torres in a similar type of style,” noted Henderson. “I think Arreaga pairs well with that type of defender. I think that pairing is good for us and having a guy with the speed that Yeimar has is really important to have.”
Members of the Front Office have repeatedly stated their ambition of becoming the first club to win Concacaf Champions League. With the additions of Gómez Andrade and João Paulo, the Sounders have strengthened the spine of a team that won the 2019 MLS Cup.
Add in the flank play of Joevin Jones, Kelvin Leerdam, Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan, who combined for 25 goals and 20 assists in 2019, and the Rave Green enter CCL with a starting XI capable of making a deep run in the competition.
“I actually want to raise the standard of this club, so that we can continue to do what we’ve done in the past,” said Sounders FC Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “But then compete in Champions League and win another MLS Cup.”