The Bloomington native was selected sixth overall in MLS SuperDraft
After two very successful seasons helping the UCLA men’s soccer program, Bloomington Jefferson graduate Jackson
Yueill embarks on a professional soccer career after being drafted sixth overall in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft by the San Jose Earthquakes.
“It’s a great experience, a once in a lifetime thing,” Yueill said about the draft process that culminated at the podium with a Quakes scarf draped around his neck.
His Bruins teammate Abu Danladi was the first-ever selection by Minnesota United FC and both are part of the Generation Adidas program, a joint venture between U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer to offer professional-ready players in the U.S. development system an opportunity to enter the draft early without certain restrictions. Six draftees are part of the current Generation Adidas program.
If Yueill, a mifielder, makes it onto the full senior team roster with the Quakes, local fans have an opportunity to see him play against Minnesota United FC at TCF Bank Stadium at 7 p.m. April 29. Minnesota heads out to Northern California to end the regular season Oct. 22.
He grew up around the game with parents Mark Yueill and Kim Yueill each playing in college (Mark with the University of Minnesota club team and Kim with the University of St. Thomas). Mark continues to be a coach in the Minnesota Thunder Academy.
The middle of three children, his older sister, Madison Yueill completed her senior season with the South Dakota State soccer program and is an Aviation major. Younger brother Luke has played for MTA and is a senior at Jefferson.
All three children attended Ramalynn Academy in Minneapolis through eighth grade before moving to Jefferson.
Mark said the draft day was a special one for the entire family as everyone except for Madison was able to be at the draft. Madison was preparing for her final exams.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Mark said of following the progress of his son as a dad instead of strictly a coach. “As you raise your kids, you throw (opportunities for them) against the wall..and since we played soccer, it was a bonus.
“I coach for MTA and have had a ton of kids come out of our program and go to a number of teams but having your own kid, it’s special. Soccer has taken him all around the world and country. He’s one of the most fortunate kids and now is a bit worldly too about other cultures.”
Deciding to be part of UCLA came down to a comfort with the campus and program after he had offers from some of the top programs like Wake Forest, North Carolina and Indiana.
“All of my best friends are around soccer and I’m really glad to be able to continue that in the future,” he said.
Yueill is a 2015 Jefferson High School graduate and played his freshman season with the Jaguars varsity team before moving on to play for the Minnesota Thunder Academy club program through high school in addition to call-ups to national team duty as part of the Under-18 and Under-20 USA National Teams.
He had the opportunity to play for the U.S. at the 2015 Four Nationals Tournament in Germany in addition to the 2015 NTC Invitational and 2015 Copa Chivas with the U18 National Team. In 2014 he was part of the U18 team for the 21st International Tournament of Vaclav Jezek in the Czech Republic.
“That was a great experience for me to get a chance to meet and talk with other top players from across the country,” Yueill said about the opportunity to represent the United States in the Canary Islands, Spain and Germany. Some of those national team players are part of the various youth programs from European giant clubs.
Yueill earned several honors during both seasons with the Bruins including All-Pac 12 First Team selections, NSCAA All-Far West Region first team, No. 5 on Top Drawer Soccer’s Postseason Player Ranking and a member of the Preseason Best XI first team selection.
The Bruins went 10-8-2 this past season and ended the season with a 2-1 overtime loss to Louisville in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
“My two seasons as UCLA were awesome,” he said, growing both in soccer and as a college student. “Being part of a community like this was really beneficial. It helped me develop a maturity level to show up and train every day and compete against some of the top programs and players in the Pac 12 that are really hungry to succeed.”
When asked his favorite part of the game, Yueill unselfishly replied: “Everyone loves to score but I love creating opportunities (for others to score).”
That’s why one of his top memories from college came in his first game of the season at Maryland. “Off the kickoff we put together 22 passes before I found Brian (Iloski) who set up Jason (Romero) for a goal. It’s plays like that. I love playing for moments like that.”
With such a short college season (three months), Yueill tried to get the most out of his experience by refining his on-the-ball game, improving his speed, strength and maturity. “You have a short season then play a lot of games in a short period of time which forces you to gain a lot of maturity.”
This season saw Yueill take more of a leadership role on the Bruins as a result.
As a sophomore, he was one of six players to appear in all 20 matches starting 16 times, logging 1,589 minutes. He led the Pac-12 in assists with 11 and ranked fifth in NCAA DI men’s soccer. Three assists came in an NCAA-record time of 32 seconds in a Sept. 5 win over No. 1 ranked Akron. He tied a program record with four assists in the game.
“That was crazy,” Yueill said, coming into the game with Danladi as halftime substitutes. “It clicked for us right away. We were hungry for goals and we were so excited and they came so quick. We didn’t expect it to happen like that.”
He scored twice to give him 15 points on the season to finish fourth on the team. He had a game-winning goal against No. 13 UC-Santa Barbara in overtime on Sept. 17 and had a pair of assists in a 3-1 win over Coastal Carolina Oct. 29 and converted a penalty kick in a 4-3 win at Oregon State on Nov. 6.
He came through with two assists in an NCAA Tournament opening-round win over Colgate on Nov. 17.
Yueill played in 20 games as a freshman, starting 18 times finished the season with seven goals and six assists, ranking fourth on the team and tied for 12th in scoring among Division I freshmen.
His first goal came at Georgetown Sept. 7, 2015 after his first start came Sept. 4 at Maryland. Yueill had one goal and two assist in a 4-1 win over Cal Poly Sept. 18 and scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Washington Nov. 8.
Yueill trained with Minnesota United over the last two summers and also had the opportunity to train in Sweden with a professional team for close to two weeks after classes concluded in June. “It really opened up my eyes and was really beneficial for me to do,” he said about the trail with Sweden’s Jonkopings Sodra IF, “I had a bunch of fun and learned a lot.”
“I was very lucky to train with (Minnesota) the last two summers,” he said about the experience at the National Sports Center in Blaine, training home of the former NASL club. “I was playing with guys much older and at a level of play much higher,” he said. The goal was to glean a few tips from the pros about how to continue that progression from high school to college and now professional. “The pro environment is very different and you have to think three-four steps ahead and I was able to do that. Players kept talking to me and helped raise my confidence.”
Yueill remains grounded about his prospects for the future.
“I’m coming in young as a rookie so it will be very hard for me to crack the starting line-up but through dedication and hard work, I want to see minutes or help the team win as many games as possible and just to learn as much as possible that first year or two.”
Contact Jason Olson at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsJason.