Written By: Michael Kroodsma
Marc Ybarra, the University of Michigan Wolverines midfield maestro, is keeping his talents close to home this summer as he prepares to join up with the NPSL's AFC Ann Arbor. The side is a natural fit for Ybarra, an Ann Arbor native, and in fact it was AFC Ann Arbor that Ybarra trained with in preparation for his first season in the Maize and Blue.
"Last summer Marc came in to train with us a few times." said AFC Ann Arbor Head Coach and Sporting Director Eric Rudland. " [...] it seemed a natural transition for us to build him into the team for the 2018 season."
It took Ybarra just a few short games to settle in with the Wolverines in his inaugural campaign. By season's end, Ybarra was a regular in the starting XI.
Traditionally deployed as a deep lying midfielder by Daley and Co., Ybarra is strong in the tackle and reads the game extremely well. His defensive eye will bring a lot of stability in front of an already solid AFC defense this season. Rudland agrees. "He is a natural #6 with the technique and intuition to act as the heartbeat of the team during build up play." he said. "Marc doesn't always get the credit he deserves for his help during team defensive phases".
For the Wolverines, Ybarra showed flashes of his attacking capabilities as well. He thrives with pace around him on the wings and found a lot of success playing incisive passes through opposition defenses. His ability to understand the players around him and their movements led to some great moments for the Wolverines throughout the 2017 campaign. Coach Rudland will be expecting to see more of the same from a player whose ability to settle in quickly is equally important as his ability to impact matches.
"He was a mainstay in Michigan's lineup this past fall as a freshman, which speaks to his ability to step into a new environment, win a job and flourish with good players around him." said Rudland. "We expect him to do the same with us this summer."
We all know that Marc Ybarra is a very talented player. At only 20 years old, it stands to reason that Ybarra has many good years ahead of him. We've seen what Coach Rudland has done at AFC Ann Arbor the past couple seasons, and molding young players is a definite talent of his. Playing in his home town, with the local support behind him, this seems like a perfect match to us. If Ybarra shows the same tireless energy, control in possession, and acumen for the game, we think this could be one of the smartest signings of the summer - both for player and club.