Yuba-Rayane Yesli is a 23-year-old goalkeeper who plays for Valour F.C. in the Canadian Premier League. Yesli was born in Algeria but moved to Canada at a young age, playing for various Quebec-based youth clubs and eventually joining the C.F. Montreal Academy. Yesli spent time in Italy, on the books of Serie D and then Serie C side US Vibonse in the late 2010s. However, he decided to return to Canada where he played for the Univeristy of Montreal Carabins and for the semi-pro PLSQ side AS Blainville during a period that was somewhat disrupted by the Covid-19 Pandemic. He joined Valour F.C. in 2022 and has pretty much been the best goalkeeper in the CPL since.
The first question one must ask of any goalkeeper is “Can they stop the ball?” In the case of Yesli, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Wyscout credits Yesli with having saved 0.3 goals more than expected per 90 minutes this season. Not only does this to the Canadian Premier League, but it’s also 7.5x higher than the next best keeper. A big part of the reason Yesli is able to be such an effective shot-stopper is that he is enormous, standing 6 ‘6 (or 203 CM for our European readers). Yesli is very good at using his big frame and long limbs to make saves 1v1 and to reach shots struck into the top corner. He is perhaps a little too comfortable parrying the ball than catching it at times. If he does make a shot-stopping error it is usually to do with his footwork. A pea roller will make its way into the bottom corner or a cross will go straight into the goal just because he was not moving his feet. Obviously, these events are fairly rare as he is an incredibly effective shot-stopper overall, but they do happen and it’s an area Yesli could improve.
On a similar note, Yesli is not that great with the ball at his feet. He can strike the ball far and with a lot of power but he is not going to make a lot of intricate passes out of the back. When under pressure he will play it long pretty much every single time. Yesli is strong on crosses but maybe not quite as strong as you would hope for from someone of his massive stature. Again, we sometimes see a tendency to punch the ball away rather than catch it.
The obvious next move for Yesli is MLS. Vancouver Whitecaps or Toronto F.C. would make the most sense as he does not count as an international for them and both sides really only have one reliable goalkeeper. But Yesli would also count as a domestic in the Algerian league and a top side that competes in the CAF Champions League could probably afford to give him a significant raise. Of course, I also think he could do very well in a mid-sized European league, of roughly equivalent level to MLS.