Even without the Seattle Sounders being among the MLS teams to resume some level of training, the crawl back toward some level of normalcy has come as particular relief to Yeimar Gómez Andrade.
Unlike most of his teammates, Yeimar has effectively be self-quarantined. The Colombian joined the Sounders only a few weeks before travel was shut down, meaning his family was not able to get the necessary paperwork to join him in the United States.
“I haven’t heard anything from Sounders but I was just thrilled to hear that getting back to training in any capacity was even a possibility,” Yeimar told Sounder at Heart when asked about teams returning to practice fields this week.
“I’ve been happy to do my part, self-quarantine, stay fit at home. But the quicker I can get on a soccer field, the better. I am glad to see other clubs doing it and sure our club will have us out there as soon as they determine is safe do it.”
With the league coming to a halt almost immediately after Yeimar made his home debut in a 1-1 tie with the Columbus Crew, the centerback suddenly found himself in a particularly challenging situation. As it is true for most international signings, regular soccer activities such as training sessions, film study and hanging out with teammates were Yeimar’s only sense of normality while settling to a new city. That’s especially true for Yeimar, whose family may be stuck in Argentina until September.
Nonetheless, even after losing a basic aspect that usually makes transition simpler, the 27-year-old’s response to adversity, isolation and nostalgia of being away from his wife has been nothing short of impressive. Despite not having support of a direct inner circle, the Yeimar has not only managed to stay motivated to maintain his physical fitness but also to improve his English.
“In the morning I spend a lot of time working out,” he said. “Parks are closed but I am always finding ways to stay in the best physical shape possible. Most of my afternoons I go to English classes with a couple of tutors, learning the language, because to be frank my English is awful.” Yeimar candidly laughing at himself, as he explained how important it is for him to rapidly learn the language so he can be a better asset to all his teammates not just those who speak Spanish.
He did clarify it is not all work. Evenings are set for calling family, playing FIFA on PS4 and watching an occasional series when he finds a good one. That said, for someone who enjoys having a daily routine, it is striking how much time he puts into preparing himself as a professional for whenever the season resumes.
Not having constant activity in a team’s facility is something that, like most pro players, Yeimar has never experienced. Yeimar has realized that he can’t work on every aspect of his game in the comfort of his home, so he is focusing on strength and conditioning. Work ethic often separates good players from great players and in that area. The former Independiente Santa Fe player is showing it is something he has a lot of.
“I run a lot on a treadmill, work a lot on cardio and do a lot of strength exercises beyond my Zoom trainings with the club,” Yeimar said. “Speed is one of those attributes which has always made me stand out as a defender, so I don’t want to lose that.”
There is certainly portions of on-the-ball drills Yeimar said he managed to implement in his daily exercises, but it is safe to say that in game rhythm is something extremely hard to work on away the field. In the process of going over his workouts, the conversation led toward his first and only game played in CenturyLink Field, something that he has not talked about but was excited to share, starting with the atmosphere.
“The fans never stopped singing, never stopped cheering, it was a beautiful sight,” Yeimar said. “I think playing at home the atmosphere will always be the same and that’s important because it gives you that desire to play in your own stadium.”
As far of his play, “El tanque” wanted to highlight his teammates quality and downplayed his strong performance saying, “I felt good, it’s only my second game so I’m glad I have a talented group of defenders around me. There is room for improvement as we are just starting get know each other on the filed but overall I think I did well.”
Reminiscing about his playing time, you could hear how much Yeimar missed being out on the pitch. However, he did not want to go without saying how paramount it is that as a community we continue working together in this fight against Coronavirus.
“This is a serious virus,” he said. “Even it’s hard, all of these measures are important, necessary, so we can overcome this, and things can go back to normal. I encourage everyone to stay at home as much as possible.”
He also wanted to send a message to all those fighting COVID 19 in the front lines.
“I want to send doctors, nurses and all those brave first responders a special thank you for helping us and taking this thing head on,” he said. “We are sport figures, but they are the ones that people should be cheering on because while we stay home, they are out there working and helping us day and night. I am grateful for everything they do for all of us.”