Andre Shinyashiki scouting report: Goals, humility, and keeping his options open

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Andre Shinyashiki of the University of Denver Pioneers takes a shot towards goal against Oral Roberts. Photo courtesy of Oscar Sanchez.

Editorial (January 9, 2018) – The 2019 MLS SuperDraft is just days away. Arguably the top striker prospect from the college soccer senior class is the University of Denver’s captain and scorer of 28 goals, Andre Shinyashiki.

You might have no idea how to pronounce the end of his last name. But if you’re a fan of an MLS team looking to draft a forward in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, keep scrolling.

Andre Shinyashiki scouting report: Goals, humility, and keeping his options open

The false No. 9 has been a major part of the rise of the Pioneers in college soccer. Shinyashiki and his classmates won four Summit League regular season titles and three tournament titles. In 2016, he played in all 24 matches and helped DU to their first College Cup in program history.

College development:

DU Men’s Soccer has become a household contender in recent years, with Head Coach Jamie Franks leading the way, first as an assistant coach, taking over the program in 2015. The Pioneers have been reliable favorites in the Summit League and challenged the traditional college soccer powers. They’ve won hardware, become NCAA Tournament regulars, and graduated players into professionals.

Shinyashiki is the embodiment of what DU’s program can produce when talent and character incubate in the right environment. The Brazilian-born forward has steadily improved every college season. This year’s 28 goal and 4 assist season (and counting) is a culmination of progress.

He praised the coaching staff for helping him improve physically and mentally. When asked about his goal record, he chose to make it all about his team, praising their efforts to provide service to get the win more than to get him goals.

Playing style:

Andre Shinyashiki is a versatile and scrappy forward. While DU plays in a relatively weak college conference for soccer, Coach Franks has regularly scheduled challenge non-conference opponents. This year alone, the Pioneers played traditional powerhouses Stanford, Virginia, and Maryland all on the road. The 5’9″ striker, while undersized, hasn’t shied away against that kind of competition.

“Andre’s unselfish work rate and leadership is what attracted us to him. As a forward, you do not always see players who are willing to scrap and fight for every ball, but Andre never takes a play off,” said Franks when asked about him. “When’s winning second balls, when he’s pressing on people, that’s when he’s at his best. The goals are a result of that work.”

While he’s mostly deployed as a lone forward, Shinyashiki has played centrally and as a winger at times. His movement and positioning has improved throughout his college career. He regularly retreats to the ball to help with combination play then uses his speed to create separation with his defensive marker. When needed, he’s willing to get physical to get open and get service. He’s no Carlos Ruiz, but he’s got a bit of CONCACAF in him for sure.

“We’re playing more of a brand of soccer that allows us to build and create chances. The guys around me are feeding me the ball. That’s been the key,” Shinyashiki told Last Word on Soccer.

“I’m a natural No. 9. That’s where I feel most comfortable. We came to the conclusion that we needed someone to play [on the wing] for 10-15 minutes during some games. I was the first one to step up and say ‘I’ll do it.’ I’ll play there and learn.”

Of current MLS strikers, he’s probably most like Dom Dwyer or Diego Rubio. A typical goal sequence for him (and DU in general) will involve him getting a few touches in the build up, then he’ll try and lose a defender as his teammates move the ball around, then he’ll make a run as a teammate passes to him.

He’ll collect the ball in space and finish, often with two touches, sometimes with an adjusted run to create a shooting opportunity. He doesn’t get chances in bunches, but they are high quality and he is able to create and improve his chances. MLS scouts have to see and value that.

Where he could end up:

For teams with top draft picks, he’d probably best fit in stylistically with Orlando City SC or Chicago Fire. He’s not primarily a poacher, but he’s got a similar skill set to Nemanja Nikolic. Learning alongside him or Dwyer could be a good fit. That said, he clearly won’t be a starter for each of those teams in 2019.

In terms of getting playing time right away, his best bets are probably FC Dallas (who have two picks inside the top ten) or New England Revolution. Dallas parted ways with lots of attackers this off-season and the only immediate experienced forward right now is Dominique Badji. The club is looking to promote young players, which helps.

The Revs might not be the best fit tactically: Shinyashiki’s best suited on a passing team that wants to keep the ball on the ground. That said, New England needs to improve offensively and some variety could help. He’s got the work rate to make Brad Friedel’s pressing system work, just not sure he’ll get the type of service that made him shine in college. If he wants minutes right away, it’ll probably be as a winger.

Other options:

Shinyashiki might not be dead set on MLS.

“I’m keeping all my options. It would be an honor to be in MLS, it would be an honor to be in Europe.”

He is originally from Brazil, playing youth soccer in São Paulo (Pequeninos do Jockey). There’s almost no precedent for a college soccer player going to Brazil to turn professional, but it’s not completely impossible given he grew up there and maybe there are contacts in Brasileirão familiar with Pequeninos.

The other option is Europe.

Given his stats and available highlights, he could find his way onto a team in Scandinavia or a lower division of a middle-tier European country. Whether he takes an opportunity like that over MLS probably depends on where he gets drafted and the vision that club has for him over the next few years.

For those of you still unsure how to pronounce his name: It’s shin like the front of your lower leg, yuh, and ‘shiki’ rhymes with Rafiki. I looked up what it would look like in a pronunciation guide, and it seemed really confusing.

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