MLS Combine: Penn State’s Yeisley set to continue making a difference

Posted on 21 December 2009 by Breton Bonnette

ASN Philly is going to be at the MLS SuperDraft in mid-January so we figured we’d begin our coverage with several informal “sit-downs” with local MLS combine participants.

Jason Yeisley is probably one of the most under the radar players taking part in the Combine having struggled with injuries during his years at Penn State in Happy Valley. He stayed the course and excelled in his last season, however, winning the honor of Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year as well as a nod as candidate for Soccer America’s Player of the Year award. His injury, however, helped open other doors to help complement his soccer career. In 2005, he met a person that would make him realize that his status as a national caliber soccer player was more than just goals and assists. Adam Recke, 9-years old from Allentown, PA (Jason’s hometown), was diagnosed with Niemann-Pick disease, a terminal and extremely rare disease that affects metabolism, and Jason met him shortly thereafter. And so began their alliance, one in which both Jason and Adam became very close and the Allentown native was able to use his position as an elite NCAA Division I athlete for the benefit of the newly-formed Race for Adam Foundation. On the field, his 2009 season wound up his best yet and Yeisley was recognized for his commitment on every front when he was honored with the Lowes Senior CLASS Award. Now, all that’s left to close out a topsy-turvy but incredibly brilliant college career, is a good showing at the MLS Combine and a chance to stand at that podium on January 14th to accept his welcoming into Major League Soccer. Former Reading Rage player here (with the Union expected to make Reading its’ PDL affiliate today), could the Union take notice?

Can you tell us what it has been like the past few injury-riddled seasons? And how did the 2009 season feel after all that time off?

It was tough to deal without playing the past few seasons. I had never experienced a serious injury until my sophomore year of college so I was not familiar with the rehab involved or how hard it would be to stay mentally focused. I found ways to stay involved with the team, most of which involved mentoring the younger players and helping them adapt to the college game, but it was still hard to feel part of the team when I was not contributing on the field. This past season was very rewarding coming back from a significant amount of time off.  Luckily I had great trainers and doctors at Penn State that helped me recover to full strength. When I was playing this season, I felt no different than I did before I was injured and I could just focus on playing.  

How do you feel your chances are heading into the combine? Your expectations?

I am looking forward to going to the combine.  Since the season has ended, I have been working out and preparing for it.  

With such a rigorous schedule at Penn State and plans to go to dental school post-graduation, where does possibly playing pro soccer fit in?

I am hoping to continue my soccer career for as long as possible and continue on with dental school afterwards. 

Congratulations on the Lowe’s senior award! What has kept you so grounded?

The Lowes’ award is a nice honor and I am humbled just be mentioned in the list of players who were up for the award. I have always taken academics very seriously and I try to stay active in the community.  Spending time with Adam and his family have helped me realize the important things in life.  

How do you feel the season ended up?

Well we came up short in the last minutes of the Big Ten tournament, but in any case, I felt this season was very successful.  For the first time since 2005, we returned to the Big Ten finals and the NCAA tournament.  In my opinion, this is something our program should achieve every year and I feel this is a good precedent and building block for the upcoming seasons.  

Please tell us a bit about the Race for Adam Foundation and your role it in all.

I met Adam shortly after he was diagnosed with Niemann-Pick disease in September of 2005.  Since then Adam has been our honorary captain 3 or 4 times and we see each other when I return home to Allentown during breaks.  The goal of the Race For Adam Foundation is to raise money in search for a cure and to promote awareness of the disease.  Niemann-Pick is very rare with only 500 diagnosed cases worldwide; so creating awareness of the disease is a very important step in reaching potential donors.  Through my connection with Penn State soccer, I have tried to help spread awareness of the disease and the Race For Adam Foundation.  We have also contributed Penn State items gathered from various Penn State teams to be used in fundraiser raffles at their events.  Our relationship has grown significantly over my time at Penn State and they are like family to me. They are an amazing family and we will always be close. 

Jason and Adam

So what happens between now and when you head to Florida for the combine?

Lots of training and working out. I have been keeping my fitness up from the season and continuously working on getting better everyday so I can have my best showing at the combine.  

Have you paid attention to the development of the Philadelphia Union franchise? Initial thoughts?

Yes, I have.  I am from Allentown and I always wanted to have an MLS team nearby in Philadelphia. I think the fan support of soccer in Philadelphia is incredible and it will be one of the best atmospheres to play in.  

Quickfire:

Best player in the world at your position?

Ruud van Nistelrooy, he might be coming off of injury now but he’ll be back

Favorite club team?

Tottenham Spurs

Next Penn State soccer star?

Corey Hertzog [leading scorer this year for PSU, 11 goals as a sophomore]

Favorite thing about Philadelphia that doesn’t rhyme with ‘squeezemakes’? 

What is better than a Philly cheesesteak? 

Favorite PSU memory?

Winning the Big Ten my freshman year.

World Cup favorites? And where do you think the USMNT will end up?

I have faith in the USMNT, they can go get the job done like they showed against Spain in the Confederations Cup.

There’s a good chance Jason will be providing us with his Combine experiences sometime in January. We’ll check in with him soon. Thanks for the time and enjoy the Holidays!

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  1. FC Dallas SuperDraft report 2010 | American Soccer News Says:

    […] injuries, we already see him rebounding and ready to score goals for FC Dallas in the future. ASN spoke to Yeisley on the eve of the combine. Then 44th pick was Eric Alexander, Indiana and can play wide left or centrally. Alexander had an […]

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