Saturday, February 02, 2013

Former Old Dominion standout Yannick Smith offered chance to compete with Major League Soccer's Houston Dynamo

Photo Credit: Old Dominion University Athletics

Former Old Dominion standout Yannick Smith, drafted by the Houston Dynamo with the 75th pick in the fourth round at the 2013 MLS supplemental draft, savored the moment offering up effusive replies to Dynamo faithful via Twitter. He also took to the social media platform and cheekily noted his place in the draft as Mr. Irrelevant, the term coined for the event's final selection.

Now Smith will work towards maintaining his place on the Dynamo roster, and with it an all-important professional contract, as Houston's February training camp rolls toward the season kick off this March. Before joining the professional ranks, the attacking player completed a massively successful collegiate career with the Old Dominion University Monarchs. He ended his career ninth on the all-time goal list and 11th all-time in assists.

Primarily, a center forward in college, Smith transitioned to a left-side attacking role during his senior season, becoming more of a facilitator versus a finisher.

"The majority of my life I've played center forward, but this year I was more of a left winger," Smith said via a December 2012 email interview. "At first it was frustrating because I did not understand the position completely but as the season went on I got more and more comfortable with it."

Smith's training sessions during the 2012 summer often focused on his positional change. "I put an emphasis on working on my combination play," the Dynamo draft pick said. "At ODU we played a very attractive brand of soccer and it's made me a much better player; last summer was devoted to my touch, passing, and playing quicker."

Upon completion of his senior season, Smith earned an invite to the 2013 Major League Soccer Combine held in Florida. Like many combine invitees, he was able to rely upon a former collegiate teammate for advice and guidance. Old Dominion alumnus, David Horst, a 27-year-old defender currently with the Portland Timbers, spoke with Smith about the expectations that come with the event.

"Once I found out I was selected to the combine, I wanted to reach out to Dave to talk to him but he beat me to it," Smith said. "Dave has been a great help, always giving me positive advice and I’m extremely grateful he reached out to me when he did not need to."

Prior to the combine in December, Smith noted some areas in need of improvement as he looked to transition to the pro ranks. "I want to continue working on my touch and get stronger," Smith said. "I believe I have a lot to bring a professional team and if I can continue to improve those parts of my game it will only give my game more versatility."

In the coming weeks, Smith will work towards cementing his roster standing with Houston. Perhaps he might even join the Dynamo's list of late-round draft picks who through development and patience went on to achieve at the sport's highest level.

1) Old Dominion University Athletic Website
2) Dynamo Theory - A Houston Dynamo Community at SB Nation
3) Yannick Smith Twitter @Yanaldinho4
4) Old Dominion University Athletic Website
5) Geoff Cameron Profile at Football Friendlies


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