It was just a scrimmage, but it showed how far a rookie had come. Last week against the Austin Aztex, Jason Yeisley had a goal and an assist for FC Dallas in a 4-1 win.
It may have been the most heartening development for the former Penn State Nittany Lion since the 2010 MLS Super Draft, in which the young striker was taken in the third round.
Just after arriving in Frisco, Yeisley suffered two injuries and was on the shelf for much of preseason. He did finally get on the field during a trip to Florida in late February and made FCD’s roster to start the season.
“It’s been a great experience just to be out here practicing every day,” he said after training on Tuesday. “Getting to play with these guys, it’s a whole different level from college. Everything is a step up -- everyone’s touch and everyone’s speed. You have to think a whole lot quicker. I feel really fortunate to be out here practicing every day, learning from so many older guys and picking up different things.”
After FCD concludes training each day, it’s a frequent site to see Yeisley, fellow rookie Andrew Wiedeman and several other players getting in extra finishing practice with Jeff Cunningham, last year’s Budweiser Golden Boot winner with 17 goals.
“Just to have the privilege to go to practice every day with someone that works as hard as he does is great,” Yeisley said. “Every touch is spot on. You can pick up so much just from being on the field with him and by watching how he reacts to certain situations. He’s one of the veterans that players like myself look up to and try to learn from every single day.”
Cunningham sees a great deal of potential in his young teammate.
“He’s a good player,” said the veteran striker. “He has a lot of potential. He works hard. He’s scrappy and finds a way to get goals.”
FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman also likes what he has seen thus far from his rookie forward and gives much of the credit to the Big Ten powerhouse.
“Players that come out of Penn State know soccer,” he said. “Many of them become passionate about the game of soccer because of the environment. [Penn State coach Barry] Gorman said he’s a hard worker. He has the size and he’s a pretty good finisher. I think he brings a little bit of enthusiasm and work ethic. That can get transferred into other players as well and it becomes contagious.”
A native of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Yeisley realizes that had he not gone to Happy Valley, there was a good chance he never would have been drafted to play in MLS.
“Coming to Penn State, I didn’t spend any time with the national teams or much time in the Olympic Development Program,” he said. “Penn State really helped mold me into a player and changed the things that I did. I couldn’t be here today without my time there.”