The Seattle Sounders’ defense has been one to watch this season as the team enters their final regular season match this Saturday against St. Louis CITY SC (6 p.m. PT; Watch free on Apple TV, iHeartRadio and El Rey 1360AM) and looks ahead to postseason play.
While defensive efforts were necessary from every Sounder on the pitch to rank second in Major League Soccer for fewest goals conceded (32) this season, Yeimar’s role at the heart of the defense has been vital.
“He's just become an increasingly important player for us to have in the backline,” said Assistant Coach Andy Rose. “He's also somebody who, just by his presence, makes everyone else around him better.”
Just by his confidence and decision-making in 1-v-1 situations alone, the Colombian defender allows his teammates to be “a little bit braver,” according to Rose.
“He's such a good 1-v-1 defender, he covers so much ground that I think other players feel they can take more risks,” he added. “It's incredible when you have a player like that back there.”
Yeimar’s ability to shut down opposition in high pressure moments is clear as he currently sits as the leading MLS player in interceptions this season (72) by a landslide, with the runner-up behind by 15.
His contributions have not gone unnoticed as he was recently nominated by the club for MLS Defender of the Year.
“It's very well deserved,” said center back Jackson Ragen. “I think he embodies just being a true defender.”
He’ll have the opportunity to cement his status as one of the league’s top defenders this weekend in St. Louis as the team will need his talents to solidify a league-leading 14th clean sheet and two potential club records for fewest goals conceded and for most shutouts in a single season.
“We've needed him all year and we're gonna need him in the biggest games,” said Ragen. “He wins the ball a ton for us and he's a leader back there.”
Yeimar’s impact will be especially pivotal as the team prepares for the 2023 Audi MLS Playoffs in the coming weeks.
“The amount of fires he puts out, how physical he can be, those 1-v-1 battles that he continuously wins, and his reading of the game really dictates a lot of what we can do with the ball,” said Rose. “So, his play will certainly be a deciding factor in how far we want to go.”
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