AFC Ann Arbor are excited to announce the signing of Yazeed Matthews to The Mighty Oak ahead of the 2019 season. Matthews is a South African native who adds even more international flair to an AFCAA side that now spans across four continents. Matthews has spent the past two seasons with Coastal Carolina, and before that he spent his freshman and sophomore seasons at Tyler Junior College. He most recently took part of the Midwest Pro Soccer Combine, and he becomes the fourth member of this season’s iteration of The Mighty Oak to have partook in the 2019 event (Jake Rufe, Henry Ramirez, James Vaughan).
Matthews is coming off a stellar senior campaign where he was arguably one of the top offensive players in the entire country. The forward was named to the All-Sun Belt First Team and awarded Co-Offensive Player of the Year for the conference. Matthews finished in a tie for tenth in the nation for goals scored with thirteen while only playing in fifteen games. That goals-per-game average of 0.87 was also good for fifth in the land. Through October and including the first game of November, Matthews was on a torrid pace. He scored eleven goals in just seven games, including a four-game stretch of eight goals, two in each game he played during that span. Putting this in perspective, the NCAA’s leading goal scorer last season, and current member of the MLS’s Colorado Rapids, Andre Shinyashiki scored ‘just’ eight goals in eight games over that same span. Matthews is going to hope to continue that stellar pace into the NPSL season.
In addition to his all-conference, and eventually United Soccer Coaches All-Regional Team, season, Matthews also was named NJCAA Player of the Year in 2016 during his sophomore season with Tyler. He led Tyler to a junior college national championship with 27 goals over the course of his season, and he was a vital member of the side that went to the final in his freshman season, as he scored nine goals. He was able to convert junior college success over to Division I with one of the best-known mid-major soccer programs in the country.
Eric Rudland sees plenty of potential in his newest addition to his side’s strike force. “Yazeed is a proven goal scorer,” Rudland said. He would also add complimentary remarks about his unreal October, saying, “He had a great run of form during his time at Coastal Carolina and has the determination to continue chasing the game.” When talking about his own strengths, Matthews would add, “I would say my finishing and my ability to play and keep the ball for a player that’s considered to be “big”. Indeed, at 6’1”, Matthews add an element of size and strength up top, but he is wonderfully technical with the ball at his feet as well.
“I heard a lot of good things about the club and its achievements,” said Matthews, when talking about his familiarity with the side. “Yes, I met coach Eric at the combine,” he would also add, when asked about his first meeting with the AFCAA head man. Rudland clearly liked what he saw at the combine, and is looking forward to the striker’s impact with the club during the season as, in addition to highlight his collegiate output, he also added, “We think Yazeed is a great teammate and will be a solid addition to our club as a goal scoring threat in and around the 18yd box.”
Speaking to Matthews, he speaks very highly of his time at both CCU as well as Tyler. “It helped in the sense of getting use to the physical demands of the game,” Matthews said first of his two seasons with the Chants, “but my time at Tyler Junior College helped me a lot to develop as a player.” He would add, “Playing at Tyler Junior College helped [my] development tremendously.” He continued with high praise of the junior college level, saying that the player he is today was formed during those freshman and sophomore seasons. With such a high-level of player at the JuCo level, and both of the two players announced this week spending time at that level (Jacob Pacheco) along with plenty more AFCAA alums doing the same, Matthews is among great company with those who have done the same as he.
Looking ahead to the season, Matthews said, “I’m hoping to get back to playing regularly and being part of a team again and, of course, achieving as much as we can as a team.” Looking at a more personally-driven goal, he stated, “I’m hoping that it would also open doors of opportunity for me to achieve my goal of becoming a professional soccer player.” With members of The Mighty Oak playing already at various levels of professional soccer, Matthews is certainly in the right place for his development to continue.
About AFC Ann Arbor
Founded in 2014, Association Football Club Ann Arbor launched it’s men’s semi-pro team in 2015 and has competed in the NPSL since 2016. Led by Head Coach & Sporting Director, Eric Rudland, the team has found great success winning back to back Great Lakes Championships (‘17 & ‘18) and earning US Open Cup bids three straight years (2017-2019). In October 2018, the club announced the launch of the women’s side, who will be skippered by Andy “Pritch” Pritchard in their inaugural season of the United Women’s Soccer national league. Owned and operated by a group of local soccer fans and entrepreneurs, AFC Ann Arbor has become a fixture in the greater Ann Arbor community.