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San Jose Earthquakes 2020 player postmortem: Jackson Yueill

Midfielder already the first name on the team sheet.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Sporting Kansas City Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

In four years, Jackson Yueill has gone from a pro prospect with some real potential to a player who is probably the most integral to the San Jose Earthquakes’ prospects of being a winning team someday.

He is a deep-lying playmaker, the midfield role that is among the most subtle in our current age but one that can be very valuable with the right player pulling the strings. At this point, it’s safe to say Yueill is one of those players who can carry that mantle.

Yueill is renowned for his passing, in particular hitting the big switch that often unlocks advanced playmaker Cristian Espinoza over on the right flank. Playing alongside the destroyer Judson, Yueill does a little bit of everything, but above all he’s the player tasked with initiating transition attacks as often as possible for the Earthquakes.

Here are Yueill’s stats for 2020:

Jackson Yueill 2020 Earthquakes Statistics

2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 21 21 1,861 1 1 20 8 5 1
MiB Knockouts 2 2 180 0 0 1 0 1 0
Playoffs 1 1 120 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 24 24 2,161 1 1 21 8 6 1

The Minnesota native missed just two games in 2020, both heavy losses to the Seattle Sounders and both ostensibly for rest purposes. Like the tireless Judson, Yueill’s ability to stay healthy and available for game after game after game after game was a marvel in itself. Amid a season in which the Quakes dug themselves a huge hole to start the local return to play before turning things around down the stretch and reaching the playoffs, the ability of players like Yueill to dig deep and find a better level to raise the team was impressive indeed.

In looking at some of the advanced stats on FBRef.com, Yueill’s numbers don’t look like someone who is a linchpin for his team and someone who is a budding star in MLS. I’ll admit that’s surprising.

Still, I think there may be some noise in these numbers, between San Jose’s chaos by design style of play and the subtlety of his role, but I think Yueill is one of the first names on the team sheet for a reason.

And that’s why the Quakes decided to secure Yueill’s services on a new deal last fall, because they know how important he is to the club. I think there’s a chance he could get a look abroad in the future, and if that happens, it should land the Earthquakes a transfer fee in the process. If a move abroad doesn’t happen, however, then he can be a foundational piece for the next decade, potentially, and that’s not too shabby, either.

Add to that, Yueill is a key member of Gregg Berhalter’s U.S. Men’s National Team set-up, and he’s likely to have plenty of action in 2021 on the international front. I’m not sure in a full-strength USMNT squad if he would make the cut, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he did, and regardless, Berhalter is going to be drawing upon a wide swath of his player pool if the various competitions scheduled on the international front take place this year.

We may get a sense of Yueill’s true importance for San Jose in his absences in 2021. Short of a deep reserve just happening to be a special line-breaking deep-lying playmaker waiting in the wings, the Earthquakes don’t have another midfielder like Yueill ready to step in when he’s unavailable. Most teams don’t, because players who play midfield like Yueill don’t grow on trees. And while Eric Remedi will likely get at least some of those minutes when Yueill’s out, it will mean a change in the midfield’s approach by design.

So Jackson Yueill is a player who doesn’t dazzle on highlight reels, per se, but he’s a rare and important player nonetheless for the Earthquakes. There are hopes he can continue to grow and blossom for San Jose in 2021 and beyond. Let’s wrap this up with one of his highlight plays from 2020, his winning goal against LAFC at the death.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.