Union teammates continue to back Josh Yaro after nightmarish week

CHESTER, Pa. — It’s been a nightmarish week for Union center back Josh Yaro. But despite being at fault for two leads evaporating, the youngster’s teammates have his back. 

“Every player in his career have those kinds of moments,” midfielder Haris Medunjanin said. “You play bad and another game you get a chance and play another bad game. I had that kind of thing happen, everybody has that kind of thing happen. This is football and it can happen, it’s so quick.”

That no-good week began last Saturday when the 23-year-old made a crucial mistake. He unnecessarily fouled Shea Salinas at the goal line in stoppage time to draw what became the game-tying penalty kick for the San Jose Earthquakes. 

Yaro, who wasn’t available for comment, hobbled the Union again in the second half Saturday against Atlanta United at Talen Energy Stadium, when Josef Martinez blew past him and in alone on Andre Blake. Yaro hauled down the Atlanta striker from behind to stop the play but earned a red-card ejection. 

“The kid Martinez can run, I think Josh knew that and saw that,” manager Jim Curtin said. “He made a decision that maybe wasn’t the right choice, but at the same time, it’s a quick reaction.”

With the man advantage, Atlanta’s Tyrone Mears scored in stoppage time to tie the Union, 2-2 (see story).

“He’ll learn from his mistakes,” Union captain Alejandro Bedoya said. “He’s still young and he’s got a great future, so I just tell him to keep his head up, keep going and just learn from your mistakes and grow.”

Medunjanin also offered his diagnosis for what ails Yaro, who was making his fourth start of the season. He explained that it’s not a physical problem with the former second-overall selection in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.

“I always tell him to play with confidence,” Medunjanin said. “You’re a great football player and have all abilities to be a good center back. Maybe it’s something in his head, maybe he thinks too much, I don’t know. When you think too much in the game, you’re already late in position. It can happen to anybody.”

But with those mental mistakes adding up and options like Oguchi Oneywu and Richie Marquez on the bench, should Curtin go back to Yaro? 

“You have to,” he said. “He’s a good young player and with young players, there’s always going to be a learning curve. He’s a good young center back and he’s devastated right now. He felt he let the team down. That’s a hard thing to go through. We all feel for him and we are a team that will stick together. He’ll only learn and get better from these kinds of moments, as hard as they are.”