Jackson Yueill – San Jose Earthquakes – pass upfield

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – It’s not so much how Jackson Yueill has developed to earn his first call into US men's national team camp, says club teammate Nick Lima. It’s how his club team’s recent improvement, Lima argues, has allowed Yueill’s creative talents to show through. 

Both youngsters are representing the resurgent San Jose Earthquakes in the USMNT's current camp ahead of the coming Concacaf Gold Cup.

Yueill will receive his first cap if and when he appears in friendlies against Jamaica on Wednesday (7 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, UDN) in Washington, D.C., or Venezuela on Sunday (2 pm ET | FOX) in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

That opportunity, Lima insists, could have come months ago if not the shortcomings of the 2018 Quakes.

“He’s always been that smart, creative, decisive player,” Lima told MLSsoccer.com Tuesday. “And he’s got that technical ability that is spectacular, and we see it in the games. We’re on a stage now where more people are taking notice of it. And I think he’s taking advantage of it in a big way.”

The Quakes followed last year’s last-place finish by losing four in a row to open 2019, only to respond under first-year coach Matias Almeyda with a surge that has taken them within a point of the Western Conference playoff line.

That climb coincides directly with Yueill’s breakthrough into Almeyda’s starting XI. The 22-year-old has played all but 20 minutes since April 6, when the Quakes romped to a 3-0 win over the Portland Timbers.

“I think the first couple games of the year were pretty tough – we were learning a new system and kind of drawing on last year’s negativity,” Yueill said Monday. “[Almeyda] kept building and he kept having confidence in his system and in us, and so I think it took us a couple weeks to get after it. And it finally came together.”

Critics have doubted whether Yueill had the defensive chops to perform at the international level. And Yueill says the constant one-on-one drilling that is a part of training for Almeyda’s man-marking system has improved that part of his game.

Lima, however, believes the critics were partly influenced by his surroundings on a 2018 team that bordered on dysfunction.

“That knock came on a team when we were in last place, giving up the most goals [in the Western Conference] in a year,” Lima said. “I think there was defensive problems for 11 guys and more on that team. I think everyone’s improved defensively.”

While Yueill won’t feature in the Gold Cup – he wasn’t on Berhalter’s provisional 40-man tournament roster – he should see time over the next week.

“He’s a guy that has performed really well in Major League Soccer and has had an excellent year so far,” Berhalter said. “And it’s nice to bring like that into camp and potentially give him an opportunity to perform. I think he’s earned it.”

Yueill is trying to be a sponge while he’s around, the kind that proves San Jose’s recent good form – and his role in it – is no fluke.

“I think being called in is a good step, and I’m here to learn as much as I can,” he said. “It’s important to me to show that I can play at this level, and learn as much as I can from these guys. I think I’ve had a good year in the league, and I try to bring the quality back that I’ve had there to this camp.”