Tom Olver profiles the USA and Seattle Sounders defender who will be joining Tottenham Hotspur in 2015...
The 60-second story
In the wake of the 2014 World Cup, DeAndre Yedlin was one of the hottest properties on the market after impressive displays from right-back for a thriving USA team. His star was born long before the tournament, however, with many touting him to reach the very top prior to the spectacle in Brazil. In his debut season for Seattle Sounders he became the first rookie to be named in the MLS All Star team since fellow full-back Michael Pankhurst achieved the feat in 2005.
At just 21 years of age Yedlin looks set to be a key member of the young and exciting national setup for years to come, under the tutelage of a certain Jurgen Klinsmann. In the lead-up to the 2014/15 season Yedlin signed professional terms with Tottenham Hotspur for a reported $4 million. He will be returning to the Sounders on loan, with sights on playing for Spurs in 2015/16.
- Name: DeAndre Yedlin
- Date of birth: July 9, 1993
- Age: 21
- Height: 1.73m (5ft 8in)
- International career: USA (7 caps, 0 goals)
Why you need to know him
DeAndre Yedlin has made a habit of breaking new ground ever since joining Seattle Sounders in January 2013: in doing so he became the first homegrown player to sign professional terms with the club since its founding in 2007, a source of great pride for the Washington club. It would not be long before achieving another ‘first’ when being named in the MLS Team of the Week after his full debut for the club. It was the first sign that this was a player not to be ignored. Later that month he opened his scoring account for the Sounders against Mexican outfit Tigres UANL in a 3-1 victory.
Come the end of the season Yedlin had established himself in the starting XI for his club and was handed the honour of playing for the MLS All Star Team against European giants Roma. No player had achieved this in their debut season since 2005. Not only had he solidified his place in the Seattle Sounders team, he was gaining recognition as one of the top players in MLS and somebody who had the potential to go on to bigger and better things.
Yedlin was brought into the world with humble beginnings. Born to a teenage mother, he was raised by his grandparents who gave him the grounding to achieve what he wanted to achieve. Introduced to the game watching his uncle play from the sidelines, a young Yedlin honed his athleticism by competing in 100m, 200m, 400m and long jump as a high school freshman. He was soon spotted by the Washington Youth Soccer State Olympic Development Program in 2006 and became part of the Seattle Sounders youth academy in 2010/11.
Meanwhile, the youngster turned out for two seasons with the University of Akron team and assisted 12 times, already highlighting his attacking tendencies that would become a major asset of his game. The American was developing as a footballer just as ‘soccer’ was beginning to take off in the States. David Beckham had joined LA Galaxy in 2007 and viewing figures as well as respect for the game grew immeasurably. In the years after Beckham’s arrival, other big names have followed suit by joining MLS rosters and the quality of football is growing ever-stronger: a perfect place for the footballing development of a raw talent such as DeAndre Yedlin.
Klinsmann, USA national coach, has been an admirer of Yedlin since his 2013 breakthrough season. But it was not until January 2014 that the German handed him his first cap in a friendly against South Korea, Yedlin claiming beforehand that “no matter if I play or not, being a part of this U.S. camp has been good for me.” Before long his performances on the pitch were demanding game-time and while Yedlin’s call-up to the US World Cup squad was a surprise to many, Klinsmann had no doubts about this kid’s talent.
Arguably USA’s standout player until the knockout stages had been Fabian Johnson who had been a constant menace from right-back, in particular against Portugal which finished 2-2. Rory Smith of The Times made the tongue-in-cheek remark that he is “comfortably the best right-back at the World Cup who is called Johnson.” (look away Glen!). When he was forced off injured in the 29th minute against Belgium in the last 16 match, many believed USA’s chances were over. Yedlin had other ideas.
In addition to neutralising the attacking threat of Eden Hazard, the American speedster provided a consistent attacking threat on the right flank, which helped his team take the game to extra-time before eventually being beaten 2-1 after an undeniably spirited encounter from both sides. No single player symbolised this 120-minute World Cup classic more accurately than the marauding DeAndre Yedlin. He had truly made his name on the world stage: cue a string of top European sides seeking his signature.
Yedlin signed for Tottenham Hotspur for a reported $4m in the aftermath of the World Cup but will continue playing for the club where he made his name until 2015. He has ignored the hype to a large extent, proving this with a typically energetic and quality-filled display for Seattle Sounders in a 6-0 US Open Cup demolition of Chicago Fire shortly after signing for Spurs, “Always remember the beginning” his Twitter tagline underlining his desire to stay true to his roots.
In loaning Yedlin back to the Sounders, Tottenham recognise that they have a talent on their hands that is not quite ready for Premier League football yet. They are, however, aware that he has the raw attributes that could see him succeed on English shores.
The most obvious attribute that comes to mind is pace. Yedlin’s early flirtation with athletics are blindingly obvious (especially for those having to mark him!). As a high-school fresher he competed in the 100m, 200m, 400m and long jump and excelled in them all. He is more than just a sprinter though, having the knack of being able to read the game incredibly well for a youngster. Although his most striking talents fall in the final third he has defensive discipline when called upon.
Another key ingredient is Yedlin’s attitude. While his eccentric haircuts may suggest otherwise, he is a grounded and humble individual who his former coach at the University of Akron Caleb Porter describes as “a nice kid, very quiet” who simply loves the game of football.
Early criticisms focused on his composure in the opponents’ half and final ball. It is clear that this is an area he has targeted for improvement and his game has come on leaps and bounds in this respect. At the World Cup his raw pace was what immediately stood out but it was his dangerous, instinctive crossing that caused havoc among a talented Belgian defence which included the likes of Vincent Kompany and Jan Vertonghen.
A quick Google image search of Yedlin and you are bombarded by a plethora of wacky hairstyles, each barnet different to the next. Judge for yourself whether his hairstyles are a weakness...
University of Akron head coach Caleb Porter knew from the outset that Yedlin was a footballer who potentially had the world at his feet, stating that: “He's as talented as any player I've coached in that role... the sky's the limit; he's a very talented kid.”
After Yedlin’s pre-contract deal with Tottenham, his boss Sigi Schmid at Seattle Sounders was under no illusions that: “for him the opportunity to go to a club like that is fantastic.” After his performances in Brazil a transfer to a European giant was almost inevitable. While Schmid was reluctant in seeing him leave he recognised it was a dream transfer for the 21-year-old and that it would give him the platform to better his career in an unforgiving league that would ultimately make him a better footballer.
Did you know?
Yedlin was born in Seattle in 1993 with Native American, Dominican, African American and Latvian heritage. Born to a young mother, he was raised by his grandparents and introduced to the game by watching his uncle play from the sidelines.
- Shooting 5
- Heading 6
- Passing 7
- Tackling 8
- Pace 9
- Dribbling 8
- Creativity 6
- Work-rate 8
What happens next?
Yedlin must continue to perform consistently well for Seattle Sounders. With experienced heads like Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Djimi Traore and Marcus Hahnemann at the club there is still much to learn before moving to north London in 2015.
Upon arrival at Tottenham, Yedlin is going to have a tough task on his hands in disrupting what has been the norm for several seasons. Kyle Walker has monopolised the right-back position unchallenged and Yedlin must do enough do persuade Mauricio Pochettino (or whoever Daniel Levy has replaced him with by then!) that he has matured enough to be able to cope with Premier League attacks week in, week out.