William Yarbrough Loan to Colorado Rapids Analysis

William Yarbrough
QUERETARO, MEXICO - AUGUST 28: William Yarbrough goalkeeper of Leon throws the ball during a Group C match between Queretaro and Leon as part of Copa MX Apertura 2018 at Corregidora Stadium on August 28, 2018 in Queretaro, Mexico. (Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images)

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The Colorado Rapids have added a new goalkeeper. Mexican-American and U.S. International William Yarbrough has left Club Leon of Liga MX for MLS, on a one-year loan with possibly an option to buy. He joins Clint Irwin, Andre Rawls, and Homegrown Abe Rodriguez as a goalkeeper with the Rapids.

William Yarbrough to Colorado Rapids Analysis

Yarbrough turned professional in 2010 with CF Pachuca. The 30-year-old had several loan stints before making a permanent move with Club Leon in 2013. He played for El Tri at the Under-20 level but is an American International at the senior level. He has three caps with the USMNT.

Will he start?

It’s unclear how good he is relative to domestic goalkeepers in MLS. He has just three caps internationally and one could argue that he benefited from Jurgen Klinsman’s favoritism of foreign-based players back in the day.

Yarbrough was the starter for Leon when they won the 2013 Apertura and 2014 Clausura. He’s played just seven league games since the start of 2019. That’s not great. Leon has finished first and second in the league in that time and is currently third in the 2020 Clausura, all with him on the bench.

His accomplishments and contributions are more reputable than anything the other goalkeepers have done. Clint Irwin was a backup in Toronto for the 2017 treble that he won. Liga MX is a better and very different league than MLS.

One would assume he’d at least challenge Irwin for the starting job. Conventional wisdom would suggest that he’s the better keeper in a vacuum. That said, he’s joining a club after the season has already started. Irwin played well last year, was in for the entire preseason, and has a history with the Rapids.

I would expect Yarbrough to become the starter but it might take sometime for that to happen.

Is this a good move?

The Rapids probably didn’t pay a loan fee for William Yarbrough. As an American International, he won’t be taking up an international roster spot. Pending his salary, this is probably an economical upgrade over Irwin, but not a significant one.

The key thing here is that Rawls has yet to make his debut and Rodriguez is a raw teenager. After Irwin, there’s no goalkeeping option within the organization with any MLS experience. If nothing else, the Rapids would now have two options at that position that would inspire confidence. Prior to that, they were an injury to Clint Irwin away from probably having the weakest starting goalkeeper in MLS.

This does seem like a good move, but there are two curiosities here:

The timing and the about face in messaging. All the public statements from the front office and coaches were of confidence in Irwin as the starter. There were no reservations about transitioning from Tim Howard to him as the starter going into this year. This is a stark change if indeed they signed another keeper such that Irwin remains a backup.

As previously stated, the timing of this is very bizarre. The transfer window has been open for two months. Yarbrough is joining a team two weeks into the season. They could have made a move in the off-season for an MLS-based challenger to Irwin. They could have pursued Yarbrough in January or February.

It’s very unusual that no one saw this wasn’t reported, and then Club Leon’s English Language account and the player both said it had already happened out of the blue.

Like several smart moves the Rapids have pulled off in recent years, this is effectively a one-year test drive for both parties. Yarbrough can see if he likes MLS.

The Rapids can test him in training and games to see if he’s a better long term option than Irwin. They can then look at the financial ramifications and decide accordingly.

Last Word: Poor Clint Irwin

The Rapids have on several occasions undermined their backup goalkeepers who have the potential to be starting quality MLS players. Zac MacMath was having a fantastic season in 2016 when the club announced the Tim Howard signing. He came in and was made the starter and captain. MacMath was later shipped off the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Irwin came into his own in Burgundy and Blue in 2013. That catapulted him to Toronto FC where he was a PK save away from winning MLS Cup in 2016. He was then benched in 2017 for Alex Bono. He came back to Colorado presumably with the opportunity to learn under Howard and then take over when he left.

Now that’s in jeopardy, potentially with him working the entire off-season under the impression that if he did his job, he was the starter.

TRANSACTION: Colorado Rapids sign goalkeeper William Yarbrough on a one-year loan on March 6, 2020.
William Yarbrough
Pronunciation: YARH-broh
Position: Goalkeeper
Height: 6-2
Weight: 141
Birthdate: March 20, 1989
Birthplace: Aguascalientes, Mexico
Last Club: Club León

Nationality: USA
Embed from Getty Images

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