Dallas Soccer: Jason Yeisley

Some thoughts on the FC Dallas personnel moves

February, 15, 2011
FC Dallas Technical Director Barry Gorman and the club’s coaching staff have been busy over the last few days. Of course, the most recent news came on early Tuesday afternoon when it was announced the club had traded defender Heath Pearce to Chivas USA for allocation money.

But in the last few days, FCD has cut loose midfielder Brayan Martinez, a 2011 supplemental draft pick from Seton Hall, forward Sheldon Palmer, a trialist from Jamaica, and second-year striker Jason Yeisley, a 2010 draft pick.

Here’s a look at all four moves.

Brayan Martinez---As crowded as the FCD midfield is, there was little to no chance of this guy making even the bottom of the roster. He had to figure his time here would be short considering the logjam of players in the midfield. Still, he could catch on in the USL and work his way up. A pure no-brainer move here by Gorman and company.

Sheldon Palmer---Hyndman liked his athleticism and the fact he worked hard on both sides of the ball. But last week, the Dallas gaffer said he wanted to see more from the Jamaican striker when it came to shooting and finishing. At one point, he even compared him to FCD expatriate Dominic Oduro. We all know Dom didn’t last too long after Schellas took over, so that should have been the first sign that he was living on borrowed time here.

Heath Pearce---This is a simple case of someone getting off the bus. Maybe that’s a strong statement but the whole issue with Pearce’s hamstring during the playoffs last fall was something that never set well with the gaffer. Hyndman even discussed early in preseason how the injury happened because Pearce was doing extra work after practice that wasn’t necessary. The bus driver never came out and said it but the tone of his comments alluded to the fact that it was something he wasn’t happy about. He was also pretty disappointed that after Pearce turned down an invite to the January US national team camp so that he could come to Dallas early and be ready to go for preseason that Heath was injured the first week of practice and didn’t play over the weekend in Houston. And in Hyndman’s comments earlier today, he said he needed someone he could depend on, which implied that he could no longer trust Pearce. Many thought Heath wouldn’t be back for 2011 and how right those folks were.

Jason Yeisley---A 2010 draft pick, Yeisley got a bit of run early in the year but the main reason he got minutes was because other than Jeff Cunningham, the club was completely bereft of forwards. Milton Rodriguez wouldn’t arrive until June and play until July and Ruben Luna had yet to be signed. It was also clear that second-year forward Peri Marosevic and rookie Andrew Wiedeman were nowhere near ready to play, so they sat on the bench. Yeisley didn’t do badly for himself but after playing early in the year, he disappeared. Maybe he hit the proverbial rookie wall but by the time Rodriguez arrived in mid summer, he was MIA. Hyndman did try him out at center back late last year but that was mainly due to FCD being thin in the central defense. A great kid with a great attitude, Yeisley shouldn’t have a problem catching on in a lower league.

FC Dallas waives Jason Yeisley

February, 14, 2011
FC Dallas continued to pare down its roster today as the club parted ways with striker Jason Yeisley.

Yeisley had a perhaps promising career derailed in college when he suffered a series of serious knee injuries after his break out freshman year. While he returned finally for a successul senior season, he was perhaps not the player he had been before.

Yeisley had shone some potential throughout the 2010, but is perhaps missing the burst needed to separate from defenders at the MLS level. With the emergence of Ruben Luna and the signing of Jonathan Top, not to mention draft picks Charlie Campbell and Paul Ogunyemi the reserve striker section of the roster had gotten fairly crowded.

I for one hope to see him surface in USL or NASL play where he might still be an impactful pro.

Here's FCD's PR on the Yeisley waiver....

FC Dallas has waived second-year forward Jason Yeisley, the team announced today.

Yeisley earned a spot in the top 18 on opening day 2010. The versatile forward remained in the top 18 for the first four games of the 2010 season, making his professional debut against the Seattle Sounders on April 22. Yeisley came on in the 81st minute for defender Zach Loyd in that match. He earned FC Dallas a penalty kick in stoppage time, which was converted by Jeff Cunningham as FC Dallas drew Seattle 2-2. The following week, Yeisley came on for defender Heath Pearce in the75th minute against New England on May 1. The only FC Dallas substitution in that match, Yeisley logged a career high 15 minutes.

At Penn State, the 6’1” three-time team captain and winner of the 2009 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, scored 24 goals and recorded 16 assists in 62 career games.

FC Dallas practice notes from spring session two

February, 3, 2011
It was the second day of preseason training on Thursday and once again, the club trained indoors at Fieldhouse USA, which is right down the street from Pizza Hut Park. Here are some recent odds and ends from the session.

Take it Outside

FCD gaffer Schellas Hyndman’s team will likely be indoors for at least one more day but the veteran coach said in an ideal scenario his team will return to the outdoor practice field on Saturday for the first workout of the day. Dallas would also do two-a-days on Sunday and Monday in advance of Tuesday’s scrimmage with Houston Baptist. The plan is for FCD to do morning sessions which are actual practices and then head to Michael Johnson Performance Center in McKinney for fitness work in the afternoon.

Injuries Already Mounting in Back?

There were a number of injuries at today’s session. Here’s a breakdown:

Kyle Davies D---Should miss between the next 3-4 months after having ankle surgery in January.

Edson Edward D---Backup defender twisted knee and had to leave building on crutches. Hyndman said he’ll be evaluated further tomorrow.

Ugo Ihemelu D---Veteran defender trained on Wednesday but will have sports hernia evaluated on Thursday morning and could need surgery.

George John D---He’s not cleared to return to full practice yet after having surgery in the offseason to remove a bone spur from his ankle, but John is close.

Zach Loyd D---Missed morning session on Thursday with minor ankle issue, but his absence is considered precautionary.

Heath Pearce D---According to Hyndman, Pearce is over the hamstring issues that plagued him last fall but he pulled himself out of practice because of a tight hip flexor. He did so as a precaution so it wouldn’t carry forward into next week.

Present and Accounted For

Daniel Hernandez M---The FCD captain is practicing but not at 100 percent after having offseason knee surgery. Hyndman said Hernandez is still having some issues when he pushes things a bit too hard. He doesn't know when his captain could be at full strength.

Jackson M/D—The versatile Brazilian who played a key role at several spots during last fall’s run to the league final made his preseason debut on Thursday. He had missed the first practice on Wednesday because of a visa issue.

Pearce Needs to Kick it Up

Hyndman made no bones about raising the bar higher for Pearce, who started much of the year at right back before an injured hamstring shelved him for the team’s entire playoff run.

“I think Heath’s got a lot of things he needs to get done this season,” Hyndman said.” He’s one of our more highly-recognized players and we went through the whole playoffs without him. How much better would we have been if we had been there? He picked up his silly fifth yellow in the last minute of a game. And then when he wasn't with the team, he did some extra sprints to pull his hamstring. And then he felt like he was ready to play in the championship game, which he wasn’t. Obviously, if he didn’t go into national camp [in January], he wasn’t ready for that. I think he’s got some things he needs to get done for us this year.”

No More of Wiedeman or Yeisley in Back

Last fall, FCD experimented with rookie strikers Andrew Wiedeman and Jason Yeisley in the back late in the year. Wiedeman saw time at right back while Yeisley, who got several games with the first team early in the season, played some center back. Hyndman said FCD fans shouldn’t expect to see either player in the back this year.

“No,we’ve been able to go out and find players now. Andrew Wiedeman, we played at right back last year when we needed this and that,” the FCD gaffer said. “I think now we’re able to help fix our roster.”

Bloody Well Right

When FCD lost Atiba Harris in the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft, the conventional wisdom was that Honduran speedster Marvin Chavez, who was a much more effective player on the right side of the midfield when healthy than Harris, would become the new starter there.

And when FCD gave Chavez a new contract in January, that belief was driven home even further. But Hyndman did say he wants Chavez to win the position as it looks like super sub Eric Avila, who had two big goals in 2010, is his biggest competition for the spot in the first 11.

“I do think that there always should be competition. At the same time, we worked awfully hard to bring him [Chavez] back,” Hyndman said. “We were a much more dynamic team with him on the field. He was really playing his best soccer. I think he’s playing his best soccer right now coming off the Honduran national team. He’s sharp. He’s quick. We know what Marvin can bring for us. For Avi and others, it’s just continue to work. Avi wants to play. Looking at this league and the number of games that we have, it’s not very realistic to think people are going to play the whole season.”

Galindo Gets a Look

FCD has two forwards in preseason camp on trial and one, ex-Chivas USA striker Maykel Galindo, who had 18 goals for the Red-and-White in 2007 but struggled the last few years with injuries, is a name very familiar to local fans.

“I think he’s a very good player. He went through a difficult time after that ’07. I think ’08 he had a sports hernia and it never really felt right,” Hyndman said. “I don’t think the last two years, he’s shown his best. Now that could be by design, the way he is with the team, fitting in or not fitting in, not being completely at his fitness level, mentally, there are a lot of players you can look at in the league who are up and down. I think he’s a player that has hard as we’ve been looking for a striker, we’ve found a guy who might have fallen in our lap. We’re happy to have him here at camp. He’ll be with us through Florida. We’ll be able to have not only an evaluation of his abilities and where he is but also his character.”

Hyndman admits FCD had looked at bringing in the Cuban international last year before they settled on signing 34-year-old Colombian Milton Rodriguez.

“Yeah, last year we were looking at bringing in a player before we brought in Milton. There was some discussion there but it didn’t pan out,” the FCD gaffer said. “We’re very happy with Milton but I think what you find with Galindo is he’s an experienced player, good speed and quickness and can stretch a defense. We’ve just got to see where he is with his fitness, sharpness and all those things.”

The Jeff Cunningham Question

February, 3, 2011
As we move on to the next question of the winter we come to what for me is the biggest one: striker. Ever since Kenny Cooper left a few seasons ago it seems like FCD has needed a striker. Last year Hyndman waited till the second window to find Milton Rodriguez, who wasn't terrible, but didn't light the world on fire either.

Now a year later FCD finds itself in the same place, needing a striker. This time due to the departure of Jeff Cunningham and Atiba Harris.

Question #2: Forward (a.k.a. The Jeff Cunningham Question)

With the decision to waive Jeff Cunningham, and probably more accurately his large salary cap number (~$220,000), FCD again finds itself in need of another striker. When the second highest paid player is coming off the bench that's not a great sign for said player. It was probably a forgone conclusion Cunningham was going to be out unless he took a massive pay cut. Massive pay cuts are not something that happens very often without a disgruntled and pissed off player, certainly not with someone like Cunningham.

Compounding the problem was the loss of one of FCD's key striker depth players Atiba Harris. Harris had tried a few times to lock down the starting striker position without success. Instead he spent most of the season holding off Marvin Chavez at right mid. Something he managed until the final stretch run. Once Harris had lost out at both spots it wasn't a surprise he was exposed in the expansion draft.

With the loss of two boddies up top, even if both were mostly off the bench, FCD is in sore need of depth just to stand pat. Some depth could come from the young prospects in the squad. The lack of progression last season of Peri Marosevic and Jason Yeisley hurts a bit here. One factor we know very little about it new academy signing Jonathan Top. Late round draft picks Charlie Campbell and Paul Ogunyemi could also help in the depth area, as might Juco trialst Sheldon Palmer. Depth may be answered by pure numbers. Edit: I forgot about Andrew Wiedeman, another player who could add depth.

An answer that could be bigger than expected is Ruben Luna. Luna is one of the brightest prospects to come out of the FCD Academy system and will be getting substantial PT this year. Perhaps even pushing to start. But you can't assume Luna will become strong enough this season to answer all the questions. He will help solve the depth issue, but not the real underlying question. At least not yet I don't think.

So depth may be ok, but if FCD is going to take a step forward (and that's the goal isn't it?) then FCD needs to add a top flight goal scoring striker. Last season far to much scoring was forced to come from midfield. When FCD needed a goal, like in MLS Cup, their best shot came from advancing mids. That's not how you want to build a squad. Add a top line scorer and I think you can look at FCD with the best teams in MLS.

FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman and technical director Barry Gorman have both said FCD is looking for a striker of that quality. Hyndman, as usual, is showing patience, citing the willingness to wait till the second window if need be to make sure they get the right player with the right qualities. So FCD may go into the season with Rodriguez and Luna as the top two choices.

That might be all right, this league is about winning at the end anyway. I prefer to have the core team all year, but I'm not the coach. Hyndman seems well contend to operate this way, leaving a big piece of the puzzle to mid season. There is something to be said for being able to make adjustments with your mid season signing. I just hate seeing an incomplete team, and right now FCD is missing a big piece of the puzzle.

One really interesting development of the last week is the pressence of ex-Chivas USA striker and Cuban defector Maykel Galindo in camp. He's been hampered by injuries the last two yeas, notably hamstring problems, but when he is healthy Galindo is a lethal and ruthless goalscorer with a nose for goal and a mean streak. Blessed with some serious pace up top, he's the kind of high striker that could push the line and open massive space for the FCD penetrating mids like David Ferreira and Break Shea. The injuries are a big red flag, but the upside is massive here if Galindo can get it back on track.

So questions upon questions at forward. Will FCD sign a top flight name up top? In this window or the next? Is Ruben Luna perhaps the answer? Can Galindo resurrect this hamstring and career? A hidden gem in the large depth pool?

How those questions are answered could make or break the FCD season.

Practice report: October 12th, 2010

October, 12, 2010
It’s been pointed out before by more knowledgeable folks than me that the first session back on the training field after a game is a strange beast, in that you’ll see coaches trying a lot of things that they wouldn’t do closer to game time. I’ve been told that coaches past, such as Colin Clarke, were already at least 90% sure of the next game’s starting eleven as soon as the previous 90 minutes were over. It’s becoming pretty clear that, with the versatility that so many players on this squad show, Schellas Hyndman is so much more open to a player stepping up and proving that they deserve consideration, whether in their preferred spot or somewhere else they are potentially suited to.

Sunday’s reserve game against Colorado, for example, saw a backline of Ugo Ihemelu, Andrew Wiedeman and Jason Yeisley – two young forwards and a guy who’s barely back from a concussion, and was therefore kept out of the box when defending set pieces. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, yet not only did FCD win, they also kept a clean sheet. Obviously Wiedeman and Yeisley are doing whatever it takes to fight for a roster spot next season, which can only be a good thing, but it also reflects well on a coaching staff that is willing to think outside of the box.

And so we come back to the strangeness of today’s session’s scrimmage on Field 7, in which the team of mostly “starters” had David Ferreira playing left back.

Yep, you read that right, not center mid or striker, not even left mid. Left back. Of course we can’t read a whole lot into this; Ferreira’s no more likely to play left back at Rio Tinto this weekend than I am, but it did show something that you don’t always get to see from him at his usual attacking mid/withdrawn forward role – a surprising adeptness at defense. Here is a player whose soccer IQ is high enough that you can drop him anywhere on the field and he can read the game well enough to know where he needs to be in order to make the play, whether on the attacking side of the ball or defending.

It all comes down to the “defense-first” mentality that Coach Hyndman has instilled in the team. It’s not really a secret that, in this league at least, a good offense can win you a game, but a good defense can win you a championship. There’s a reason that the top-scoring LA Galaxy in 2008 and FCD in 2009 did not make the playoffs – the Goals Against column.

The second half of last year, the team was exciting to watch – you knew you were going to get goals, but unfortunately you also knew you were going to see at least one defensive brainfart that would mean some of those goals would be for the opposition. This year, there’s still the occasional mistake, but it feels like any player on the field has the ability to cover and ensure that any chances those mistake create are at least difficult ones. I still feel like there’s a piece or two missing that can turn some of those 14 ties into wins, but in my short time as an FCD fan, this is the closest I’ve ever seen to a championship-winning team.

Of course, I doubt Ferreira’s insertion into the backline was entirely planned ahead – several players were kept out of the main training session today for one reason or another.

I’m sure you’ll all be pleased to know that all three of George John, Ugo Ihemelu and Daniel Hernandez not only came through training unscathed, but looked solid out there. John in particular was making some excellent defensive plays, and Hernandez ripped a shot from the halfway line on the shortened pitch that rattled Josh Lambo’s crossbar. With Tampa Bay’s season over, Lambo is back training with the team, but does not have a roster spot. He and Chris Sharpe traded places in net throughout the session.

Kevin Hartman continues to be sidelined, but he is showing progress, joining the team for the warm-up drills, before working with Drew Keeshan in the net on Field 4. I highly doubt he’ll be ready for Salt Lake this weekend, but with some luck and hard work, he may be back in time for LA. Time will tell.

The other players kept out today, besides Pearce and Shea with the national team, were:

- Kyle Davies, who took a knock to the head during the reserve game. No word yet on whether he has a concussion or (hopefully) something less serious, we’ll just have to watch for FCD’s injury report. He was working on the stationary bike and stretching with the trainer.

- Edson Edward, who has been suffering from some tightness in his left thigh. He too was working on the bike and stretching.

- Atiba Harris, who also looked to be carrying a left leg problem. He did warm up with the team before moving to the bike, so I’m thinking he was just kept out as a precaution after experiencing some soreness during the warmup

- Moises Hernandez. I didn’t get the scoop on his injury, but he was mostly working on some stretching and ball drills with a trainer.

After starting with some passing drills, the team scrimmaged for the rest of the session, with the focus, as it often is, on quick one- and two-touch passing. As well as the regular goals patrolled by the keepers, each team also had a small (I would guess slightly larger than hockey-sized) goal to attack/defend at each corner – any shots aimed at these goals had to be kept low or they didn’t count. I believe at certain points between stoppages, players could only pass to a player wearing a different color (red and blue “mostly starters” played white and green “mostly reserves”), but I wasn’t always keeping good enough track to be sure of that. I lost count of the number of goals, but I believe the red/blue team ended up the winners.

There were a couple of notable plays to report on, all of them involving Eric Avila, who was playing for blue/red. After winning a tackle on Wiedeman, Avila laid the ball off to Ferreira, who first-timed a pass for Avila to run on to. It looked like he’d played the ball too long, yet somehow Avila kept the ball in play with a first-timed low cross across the box, perfectly weighted for Yeisley to slam the ball home past Dario Sala. Another Yeisley goal, this time into the near corner goal, was started by Avila, who chipped a loose ball over Peri Marosevic’s head to Yeisley, who then slotted a header between Peri and Wiedeman to Milton Rodriguez. Rodriguez, following Avila’s lead, again chipped Peri, and Yeisley hit a nice volley in between the corner posts from a good distance. Four touches, including Avila’s initial play, leading to a goal without the ball ever touching the ground.

It wasn’t all sunshine for Avila though, as a couple of times he failed to spot an easy outlet (usually Ferreira) and was closed down and stripped of the ball with relative ease. For every moment of brilliance there’s a moment that shows why he hasn’t been able to lock down a starting role on this team.

From this session, it’s difficult to predict a lineup for Saturday’s game. With a few key players missing one way or another, and a few others returning from injury, what I saw today was never going to be reflective of what we’ll see face Salt Lake. Whatever happens, Hyndman has some difficult decisions to make this week. How important is continuing the push for the slim hopes of the Supporters’ Shield and at least ensuring home field advantage in the playoffs compared to resting certain players? Is the risk to reinsert formerly injured players into the lineup in order to get them match fit one that he’s willing to take? If so, what happens to players like Loyd, Jackson and Alexander who’ve all shown something during other players’ absences?

If it were me, I’d say John is ready to play comfortably for at least 70 minutes and can probably go the full 90 if needed to. I know I’ve said this before, but he looked strong out there today, and the defense looked better with him in the lineup against Colorado. I’d probably leave Ugo on the bench, perhaps introducing him in place of John late on, but Hernandez is a tougher call – as the oldest of the three, his recovery time is likely longer and potential to reinjure is higher, but he looked good out there, and there’s no question about the qualities his leadership brings to the team – something that’s been somewhat lacking since he and Hartman were sidelined. There’s also a question mark over Atiba Harris’ head – I do believe it was just a precaution today, but it’s possible that Hyndman could rest him to make sure he’s ready for the playoff games.

My best guess at the formation we’ll see isn’t a very good one, I’m afraid. I’d be able to make a better stab at it later in the week, but for now, assuming Pearce and Shea both play for the US this week, I think Hyndman will go for this:
Chavez McCarty Harris
Benitez Loyd John Jackson

I’m not completely convinced that he’ll rest Pearce, though I do believe Chavez will start over Shea again. I also question whether Alexander has moved ahead of McCarty on the depth chart. Of course, if Harris is kept out, then he’ll play on the wing and McCarty will retain his linking position.

As I said, this early in the week, and with so many absences, it’s just a guessing game. That doesn’t make it any less fun to play though.

FC Dallas related twitters

August, 21, 2010
Twitter is all the rage these days, I have one of course (@3rdDegreeNet), as do some FCD related people that I thought I would share. If you know some I missed please feel free to post them at the bottom.

The only FCD player who is active and interesting, is Heath Pearce (@HeathPearce4). There are other players who have accounts, like Jason Yeisley (@jyeisley) for example, but Pearce if the only one I know of that is active. Josh Lambo (@JoshuaLambo), currently on loan with Tampa Bay Rowdies is fairly prolific.

Perhaps equally as fun as Pearce could be Pearce's mustache (@HeathsStache), which just started it's own twitter. Likely even more controversial and edgy than Pearce's mustache is the fake Schellas Hyndman (@schellasisagod).

Also of note is the official FCD Web twitter (@FCDallasWeb), FCD PR head Leigh Anne Gullett (@LAGullett), and the effervescent Bobby Rhine (@BobbyRhine). FCD Youth (@FCDallasYouth) also has a twitter. The Inferno (@Inferno_FCD), the FCD supporters group, has a twitter as well.

And last, but not least, with an FCD connection is former FCD player Jamie Watson (@jamiewatson22) who was tearing it up for the Austin Aztex until his injury. Watson is both a frequent and interesting twitterer.

Is twitterer even a word?