United States v Ecuador: Klinsmann pins hopes on Yedlin as Copa preparations continue
Jurgen Klinsmann has urged DeAndre Yedlin to continue his strong form in the build-up to the Copa America, as he prepares his USA side for the friendly with Ecuador on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old, who spent the season with Sunderland on loan from Tottenham, established himself as an important part of Sam Allardyce's side as they battled to Premier League survival in the final months of the campaign.
Yedlin received widespread praise for his performance in USA's 3-1 win over Puerto Rico on Sunday as the host nation began their preparations for the finals next month in victorious fashion.
And Klinsmann has called on Yedlin to sustain that level of performance, both when they meet Ecuador at Toyota Stadium on Wednesday and in the tournament itself, which kicks off on June 3.
"We're thrilled about his season because he broke through at Sunderland and Sunderland's not an easy spot to play at, especially when they're fighting relegation," Klinsmann said, as quoted by ESPN.
"I think for DeAndre this was a big learning year and made him stronger, made him better and hopefully also more confident. With what he's going through, he's still a very young player and it couldn't have gone any better during the season.
"Most importantly, Sunderland were not relegated. They saved themselves and he played a vital role in that with an awesome coach, Sam Allardyce, so he gets a big confidence boost and now he has to confirm this good form at the Copa America."
Ecuador's trip to Texas will be their first chance to restore some morale after a draw with Paraguay and a defeat to Colombia ended their perfect start to World Cup qualifying in March.
Gustavo Quinteros' side must face Brazil in Group B but are expected to progress to the knockouts of the Copa, ahead of Peru and Haiti.
For striker Enner Valencia, the aim in the finals must be nothing less than lifting the trophy, making Wednesday's warm-up an important part of their plans.
"We don't want to be left behind, we want to join those who have won the Copa," he said.
"We have to visualise it and I'm sure we can achieve it. We've had a good start in the qualifiers and that motivates us."