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The Voice of the Black Community
Jacks outside backs leverage speed to gain offensive advantage
Their ability to get upfield benefit attack
Published Saturday, August 19, 2017 9:39 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

MATTHEWS—Traditional outside backs have their place.

Charlotte Independence defenders Austin Yearwood, Joel Johnson and Donnie Smith provide the ability to widen the pitch and catch opponents on counterattacks—traditional elements of the game that allow them to build out of the back.

“For how we play, it’s essential that we have outside backs [and] outside players that can get up and down the line,” Coach Mike Jeffries said following their 1-1 draw against Orlando Saturday. “That’s a key component for us.”

Said Smith, who is on loan from the MLS New England Revolution: “It benefits my style of play, because I tend to like the ball in space when I’m running onto it. I’m not as good coming back to it with my back to goal. The fact that they want guys to start bombing on, it really helps my style of play.”

Charlotte’s presence in the final third stems from the movement of the outside backs.

“For us, it’s a key component in how we want to attack,” Jeffries said. “The nice part for us is Austin, Joel, Donnie and Castillo [Dennis, who is on loan from the Colorado Rapids], when they come in, they’re very solid defenders first and foremost.”

Said midfielder David Estrada: “When you have guys outside who can be a little bit technical and keep the ball, like myself and Alex [Martinez], Enzo [Martinez] and Jorge [Herrera] it kind of gives us that ability to know that if we need someone to bail us out, we just play it out wide. Like I tell Austin, nine out of 10 times you’re going to beat somebody with your speed. Same with Joel. Austin is probably the fastest guy on the team. That’s the extra edge they give us in the attack.”

Yearwood has become a consistent presence in the starting XI in his second year with the jacks.

“Austin has improved greatly in his ability to read plays and to time his runs, and to get forward at the right time,” Jeffries said. “As he’s played, he’s gained more confidence in his ability off the ball to make the right choices, and to be clean and to make accurate passes.”

As he plays more minutes, Charlotte coaches encourage Yearwood to establish himself on the flank.

“Coach has been encouraging, me especially—Joel does it really well—to just take the initiative to bomb the line, go forward, and get behind their backs,” Yearwood said. “The more that we can do that on both sides, the more trouble we cause, because we’re just opening up space to whip in crosses, or opening up space in front of them for players like Alex or Estrada to come in.”


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