When you hear what Josh Yaro has overcome, it’s hard not to root for him to succeed with San Antonio FC.
On paper, San Antonio FC defender Josh Yaro looks like he’s living the dream. A graduate of Georgetown University. Former #2 overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft. Signed his second pro contract with one of the most respected clubs in the USL Championship. But, if you knew everything that he had to overcome to get here, you’d understand the heart he brings to the table.
First, it’s important to know who Josh Yaro truly is. He’s a 24-year-old central defender that grew up in Ghana. He played for the Right to Dream Academy, which provides a soccer path for those that don’t often have one, before coming to the United States as a 15-year-old. Despite moving away, Yaro has never lost his love for his home country. “It is extremely important for me to keep ties with my Ghanaian roots and heritage,” he says. “I’ve tried to stay engaged with my country which is why I started The Josh Yaro Foundation, which will help to educate kids with the hope of forming the future generations that will move Ghana forward.”
“The country gave me a lot and I do appreciate every bit of it and forever owe it to myself and my country to go back there and help in any way possible.”
After starring for Georgetown University, Yaro was drafted to the Philadelphia Union in 2016. Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan in the City of Brotherly Love, on or off the pitch. He made 17 MLS appearances in his rookie season, but he tore his labrum in the summer and lost significant time. A soccer injury would feel inconsequential when Yaro received news that nobody is ever prepared to hear: His mother passed away unexpectedly. “It was and still is extremely hard to deal with. She was my mentor and the one that knew me better than anyone,” Josh explains. “My mum always pushed me to be a better person and my love for education is her direct influence. She did set me up with everything I need to succeed in life and it’s a shame she didn’t live long enough to see all my success both on and off the field.”
While battling injuries in the next two seasons, including concussions, Josh was able to fulfill a promise to his late mother by graduating from Georgetown with degrees in International Relations and Medical Anthropology. “Last year, I was finally able to go back to Georgetown and walk. This is an accomplishment I’m really proud of because it’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life,” he says.
“My mum always pushed me to get my degree and she only allowed me to play soccer because I promised her I’d get my degree someday. In a way, getting my degree was fulfilling my promise to my late mum.”
Congratulations to @JoshYaro for coming back to complete his degree and graduate! Our #ProHoyas know the importance of a @Georgetown education! Additionally, congrats for winning the Thomas Francis Graham Award from the @GeorgetownColl #HoyaSaxa #Hoyas2018 pic.twitter.com/8aOhPg3VJL
— Georgetown Men’s Soccer (@GUHoyasMSoccer) May 20, 2018
After the 2018 season, Yaro had his option declined by Philadelphia. He reflects, “My time with the Union was tough due to the injuries I suffered and it’s frustrating but then again injuries happen in this line of work and as a player, I have to learn to deal with adversities and move on.”
He moved on earlier this month when he signed with USL Championship side San Antonio FC. Yaro will look to avoid the injury pitfalls that prevented him from reaching his lofty expectations with the Union. “It’s a new team and a new environment and I’m going to be working a lot with the club on ways and things I can do to stay healthy,” he says.
“As a player, there are always things you can do to prevent injuries. I’ve tried in most cases to do my best to avoid common injuries. If you look at most of the injuries I suffered, a lot of them were unavoidable. Take a concussion for instance, as a central defender, if someone hits a ball at my head, I’m not going to duck and let it go on goal. A blow to the head like that can cause concussions and these are things that are hard on my part to control. With that said, I still realize there’s a ton I can do to make myself stay healthy, which I most certainly will.”
When it comes to the second club of his professional career, Yaro is really excited about his new home. He says, “I’m really fortunate to be in San Antonio. It’s a great organization and I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about the fan base here. Believe it or not, fans do play a big part in the success of a club and I’m really excited to represent this club, city, and fans. I can’t wait to get to meet the fans soon. Fans can expect that on the field I’ll always give my best and collectively as a team, we will always leave everything on the field while playing in a style that’s entertaining to watch. I hope to be a big part of this team because there is tremendous talent and my goal is to add some value to that.”
He’s not only excited to play in the Texas city, but he’s also ready to make an impact in the community. “Off the field, I hope to have a lot of opportunities where I get to directly engage with the fans and get to know each other. I have no doubt this city is going to give a lot and contribute to my development and success,” says Yaro. “I owe it to the city of San Antonio to give back what it has already given me in my time here so far. Looking forward to all the ways I can help make this city better in my own small ways.”
When asked what he thinks of when he hears San Antonio FC, Yaro has a lot of positive things come to mind. “A few things that come to mind when I hear people mention or talk about San Antonio FC are professionalism, caring, and driven. This is a club that is dedicated to the players and provides us with the care and environment where we can compete and achieve success,” he says.
Yaro and his new club will get the chance to compete in six preseason matches before they open USL Championship play against the explosive Phoenix Rising FC on March 9th at Toyota Field. Based on where he’s been and what he’s dealt with, San Antonio FC and their supporters will never need to question the heart of Josh Yaro.