Yueill and Thompson Shine Against Los Angeles Galaxy in US Open Cup Match
Featured Photo: ISI Photos
Jackson Yueill and Tommy Thompson was a seemingly unconventional choice for a central midfield pairing, but they got the job done on Monday night against Los Angeles in a dominating fashion. When asked on whether or not there were any concerns with partnering Thompson and Yueill in the midfield, Leitch said “Not since I’ve been here.”
“I thought that those two [Thompson and Yueill] ran that middle, especially against a very tough team in the Galaxy who use the middle very well and loves to throw numbers to overload sides,” said captain Chris Wondolowski after the match. “Jackson Yueill is more of a number 10 but played a number 6 today and did a great job. I thought he was the man of the match.” Yueill is just 20 years of age, and was GM Jesse Fioranelli’s favorite player in the 2017 MLS Combine. Yueill has an excellent ability to make incisive passes in the final third, which he has been able to translate to the MLS level since Chris Leitch took over as head coach.
Yueill was forced to play much further back than he usually does, but he didn’t make any major mistakes and was actually quite defensively sound. Otherwise, he had 6 recoveries (yellow), 4 interceptions (blue), and a successful tackle (green). Keep in mind that this was all against the very talented Giovani dos Santos, Emmanuel Boateng, Jaime Villarreal, and Bradford Jamieson. “I knew it was going to be a difficult game with Giovani dos Santos dropping in the pockets in the midfield, but Jackson and I spoke before the game and wanted to make sure that we stayed connected as a unit,” Thompson said following the match. “The number one thing for us was to communicate. I thought he did a really good job with the number six spot tonight.” He was not able to get as far forward as he did against Seattle in the Open Cup and make as many key passes, but he showed off his versatility and that he has another dimension to his game.
Chris Leitch had a lot of praise for Yueill as well after the match. “It has been a pretty damn good performance from Jackson wherever I play him, Tommy wherever I play him, Hyka whatever his role is. People may not think of Jackson as a 6, a defensive mid, but he can play there. I watched him play his freshman year at UCLA, he played pretty soccer, you could tell his soccer IQ was really high. Came back and saw him play his sophomore year, first five or seven minutes I saw him get into a tackle and I was like ‘Wow, this kid didn’t have that last year and just added that.’ That showed me something, and he’s demonstrated here since he’s been a pro that he’s not just great with the ball at his feet. He can sniff out second balls, recuperate the ball, and do his part defensively. I think Jackson has been fantastic.”
“Tommy Thompson I thought was everywhere,” Wondolowski said of Yueill’s partner in the midfield. “Every time I looked up he was back there or overlapping and got two assists. I thought he had even better things that didn’t go in the stat book tonight. I thought Tommy and Jackson were excellent.”
Thompson arguably played his best match in his young San Jose Earthquakes career. Wondolowski said that Thompson was “everywhere” on Monday night, and he absolutely was. Thompson was able to get behind the LA defense by himself with 4 successful dribbles on the night. The San Jose homegrown player also showed up on the defensive end as well as in the final third with some excellent passes that led to both of Chris Wondolowski’s goals.
On San Jose’s first goal, Jackson Yueill threaded a nice pass to Tommy Thompson, who found Chris Wondolowski at the top of the box. Wondo hammered it in with his left foot to give the Quakes a 1-0 lead.
“Jackson is a great passer, especially when he’s receiving the ball in deeper parts of the field. He’s got great range,” Thompson said. “I knew he had the ability to make the 30 to 40-yard pass, so I dropped into a pocket up the field. I was going to look to take Jelle Van Damme on, but I saw Wondo at the top of the box and knew there was no one better to pass it to in those situations. I was happy to see it go into the back of the net.”
The Quakes are 3-1-0 under new head coach Chris Leitch, and it seems his methodology of playing more through the center of the pitch and not the wings has worked to the benefit of players like Thompson and Yueill. ”I think the coaching staff has a lot of confidence in us offensively,” Thompson continued. “They know that if one of us might lose the ball, another teammate will make up for the mistake. The team has a lot of confidence right now, and we’ve had a lot of good results in the past couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to continuing in the coming weeks.”