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Yedlin delivers solid performance in surprise World Cup cameo

DeAndre Yedlin

Photo by Perry McIntyre/


MANAUS, Brazil — The U.S. Men’s National Team has been in camp for six weeks now, and at no point during that time had DeAndre Yedlin seen any time as a right winger.

You wouldn’t have known that based on how the 20-year-old fullback responded when deployed on the right wing in the second half of Sunday’s 2-2 tie vs. Portugal.

In a surprising move in an even game with so much at stake, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann turned to one of his youngest and least-experienced players to provide a boost by inserting Yedlin in the 72nd minute. Yedlin replaced Alejandro Bedoya on the right side of the midfield and could have been overwhelmed by the momentous occasion, but not even that combined with the fact that he was playing in an unfamiliar position prevented the 20-year-old Yedlin from making the type of impact that Klinsmann had envisioned.

Yedlin helped set up the late go-ahead goal for the Americans in their eventual gut-wrenching 2-2 draw vs. Portugal at Arena Amazonia on Sunday night. He used his blazing speed to get to a ball down the right, raced to the end line and cut it back towards the center of the penalty area. A few fortuitous bounces paved the way for the ball to reach Graham Zusi, and then Dempsey, but nonetheless the impact was made and Klinsmann’s faith had been rewarded.

“We’ve been working on a lot of little things since more than five weeks and one thing is definitely to have Andre in our group for a reason,” said Klinsmann. “Not only because he’s one of our biggest talents, youngsters coming through the ranks. No, because he has the qualities to make an impact in the game right now in this World Cup, which he did and we knew it. That’s why he’s here.

“We knew with Andre’s speed, with his kind of also defensive skills because he plays with Sigi (Schmid) up in Seattle at the back, we have another weapon to push (Portugal) again back in the defense and create them problems. …  It’s fun to watch that kid.”

Klinsmann – who lamented the referee’s decision to blow the final whistle while Yedlin was racing in from the right – subbed in Yedlin because the head coach felt the U.S. needed some speed on that wing against a Portugal defense that was growing tired. Yedlin has that in abundance and was able to provide it and more, giving the Americans’ attack another dimension following a blue-collared and more defensive-minded shift from Bedoya.

Yedlin admitted after the match that it was the first time he played as a right midfielder, but added that his responsibilities were largely the same as when he plays in his more customary position at right back.

“For me, it’s not too different because I play so high up the field anyways,” said Yedlin. “It was good. Fabian (Johnson) instructed me perfectly, let me know where to be defensively. That was the biggest thing for me, I think, where to be defensively. But other than that, it was pretty much the same: stay high, go at guys 1-v-1, defend 1-v-1 and it’s all good.”

It may not have looked it from afar, but Yedlin did have to combat some emotions. He was excited about earning his first World Cup appearance in just his fifth international cap, but knew he could not let his feelings betray him.

“This is the biggest stage. This is what every soccer player dreams of and those dreams were being made a reality,” said Yedlin. “It was pretty amazing, but it’s one of those times you’ve just got to kind of calm yourself because if you’re too excited, too hyped up, you don’t play as well.”

Many observers thought that would be the case with Yedlin when he surprisingly made it onto the U.S.’s World Cup squad last month. Some of the criticism was expected given his age and him being in only his second professional season, but most fans and media members let it go due to the dearth of options at right back and the perception that he would not see the field in Brazil.

Yedlin not only saw some minutes. He made them count.

“I noticed that the left back that’s run against me was incredibly tired, so I was just screaming at Jermaine (Jones)  to give me the ball and he gave me a perfect ball into space,” said Yedlin. “I didn’t even really have to beat the guy, I just kind of got into space, took a touch inside and – Michael actually during one of the breaks he said, ‘If you get the ball to the end line, cut it back.’ I said, ‘Okay.’ – so I looked up and sure enough he was there, cut it back, I think it deflected off of one of the defenders, kind of a little bit chaotic but found Zusi and crossed it into Clint and it’s 2-1.”

In the end, the goal did not stand as the winner thanks to Varela’s nodded effort in the dying seconds. But Yedlin still gained invaluable experience and plenty of confidence from helping make that U.S. goal possible and Klinsmann’s surprise decision to play him.

“It’s a huge confidence-builder,” said Yedlin. “Just to know that he has that trust in me is incredible. I’m looking going into the next game hopefully make a difference if I get on the field.”


  1. As a team in general we are very poor at managing a lead. Hopefully in the next cycle we will get better at this.

  2. Not an unfamiliar position for him at all. Yedlin was a winger for the Sounders youth teams before Coach Porter at Akron moved him to RB. Yedlin has had a total of a year and half as a RB.

  3. When a guy as young as him is playing every minute for his MLS team for two years running, you know he can play.

    Agree with JK: He is fun to watch. I do hope that Sigi moves him to midfield. It is where he is needed, Evans is better suited as a RB anyway.

  4. Once again, WOW! Despite DeAndre playing only a few minutes and setting up the go-ahead goal, people are so focssed on finding someone to blame for the tie, they suggested he was to blame.

    Frankly, it was a perfect cross by Ronaldo that led to the goal. For 94.2 minutes the USA kept the player of the year from having any impact on the game. A great play by a great player punished a few seconds of inattention. Soccer can be a cruel game!

    • Agree completely. What tied the game was a perfect pass+header and any difference in the build up by several players on both sides would have sent the U.S. on to the knockout round. Time to move on.

  5. the future is bright…. yedlin, green, brooks, parker-brown, most likely zelelem, manneh is getting his citizenship in like a year, flores.. its pretty exciting

  6. Seems to me like Yedlin should be attracting a lot of interest from Europe, he showed really well at the U-20 World cup, he gets first team minutes on a good team in MLS and he has elite level athleticism and speed all at the rip age of 20.

    • Yedlin makes 80-92 K for the Sounders. Transfermarkt already has him valued at 220 K .

      If he continues to do well, well clubs love young fast fullbacks

    • They are plenty fast, and …. probably not, but maybe, ‘specially if we score first a la Dempsey 1’, and then make them run around more than we have to. It will be a tough match, unless we manage to scare them enough to be defensive, and we settle in for the tie.

      Hopefully we gave Portugal enough inspiration that they come in renewed and inspired, and beat Ghana by 1 point.

  7. In the 93rd minute when Yedlin took it down the right to the goal line and tried a cross to Wondo and it was blocked back to the touchline, near the corner flag. I wish instead of getting a touch and then trying to shield away defenders, he would have let it out for a USA throw. I’m not at all faulting him for what he did, it was also a good move to kill time, but maybe a throw in for the USA that took 30 seconds would have killed an equal amount of time or more and given our tired midfielders a that extra rest to finish the game.

    • Using Yedlin at midfield turned out to be genius and I thought it was fine that he took it into the corner and tried to kill time and he did kill some time. The problem is once he lost it, I would have liked to see all that speed used to bust his tail back into a defensive position instead of walking back up field. Maybe if he does that FJ drops back sooner and Valero isn’t open and we don’t feel sick all last night…

      • Does anything I said blame Yedlin or Klinsmann?!?! Seriously! I said I wished he’d let the ball out for a throw in and expressly say what he did was a good move!

      • Its all on Bradley…. for the turnover that led to ROnaldo having the ball. Bradley couldve booted the ball 50 yards deep into the stands and probably wouldve earned a foul for doing so by getting nicked as he boots it…instead of taking a second touch.

  8. All I know is that DeAndre Yedlin needs to understand when there is one minute left in the game and the US is up by “1 Point” the objective is to keep possession not to attack the goal. Especially when he fails and gives the ball to the opposing team, which against Portugal facilitated a tie!!!!!!

    • And if he was bought in to take Fabian Johnson’s place as a right back, he would have. Instead, he was called in to be in a right mid. You want to blame someone for not getting back, blame Johnson.

      • Tony, you be the judge. Go to the 94:00 point in the game, Yedlin should have sought a pass not an attack on the goal. Seconds later Portugal got the header, which gave us the final result of a tie. We would have been heading to the knock out round if he would have passed it to just one person. Instead he sought glory, and it cost the team a win!

      • um? I watched it. He hit the cross, but he got the ball back and then tried to kill time in the corner. What are you talking about?

      • I pointed this out last night in a thread. He did everything he could have done. But then again it is so much easier to criticize, rather than offer insight or answers. And maybe the answer is you say the other guy did a lot right, so you show some class and give credit.

        Sure i wish MB hadnt lost possession, and i wish FJ had run with his mark, and i wish Cameron hadnt ball watched. But that stuff happens countless times in a game. The difference this time is one of the best players in the world hit a wonderful ball on to the head of a charging forward who didnt miss. Hats off to Portugal. I sure wish it hadnt happenned, though.

      • There were so many players to blame on that last goal. Even when Bradley lost the ball there were 5 players back against only 2 or 3 Portugal players. However I agree here, I think Yedlin should have let the ball run out of play and then took a yellow wasting time while “attempting” to throw the ball in. Let Wondo set up next to the flag and toss the ball to him to kill the last couple ticks. He was half right to hold the ball in the corner and his decision was one of many that led to the Portugal goal. Plenty of blame for everyone.

      • Jesse at 93:47 Yedlin should have passed the ball to Bradley, or at least reversed the direction away from the goal. Instead at 93:51 he charged the goal which was deflected by Portugal, and only then did he mess around in the corner, which resulted in Portugal getting the ball back.

        Chris Wondolowski was playing smart ball, and was praised several times for not attacking the goal in the final minutes, possession was needed not a glory run at the goal.

        My observations are subtle I admit but in life, combat, and sports subtleties make the difference between winning or losing, even life or death. And subtleties definitely matter in the World Cup!

        I am giving credit where credit is due, and this is a lesson I hope the American team learns. In the upcoming matches I hope they use their intelligence at ALL TIMES (especially in the last minutes of a close game) as well as their skill.

      • Honest question: Have you ever played a full 90 and extra time in horribly hot and humid conditions? It sounds like you haven’t, or else you’d know that even elite athletes can be worn down by that time, both mentally and physically, even in a World Cup match.

        If you have played in similar conditions, you must have forgotten what you went through.

      • Actually Anon, I am a veteran that made it through HELL WEEK in SEAL training, so after going 5.5 days with only 2 hours of sleep I have an understanding of what it feels like to be tired. But Anon that is not the point, I am making observations about the game that I would like to see improved as we move forward! Our TEAM has a chance to be great, they just cannot make mistakes in the last minute. “Being too tired” is not an excuse that any true winner would ever use Anon.

      • I know what happened, I’ve watched the game 3 times and the end like 5.

        I know he hit the cross but he got the ball back. So how can you criticize that cross as being a factor in us not winning? You can’t, it wasn’t a factor. If he had gone straight to the corner without hitting the cross, he would have lost ball sooner, wasting less time.

        He got lucky the ball bounced back to him, granted. The point I was responding to was how Yedlin’s decision to not go in the corner was a factor in the result. His decision was completely inconsequential as luck gave him the ball back. Had he run into the corner directly Portugal would have had more time.

      • Jesse I respect your level headed evaluation of the game, and that you are not on here to insult others. You care about the game, and want to see the USA win, like myself!

        I say though that it comes down to Yedlin’s intent between 93:47-93:51; I submit he was “NOT” thinking about maintaining possession I say he attacked the goal at exactly 93:51. I do not think he should have gone to the corner, nor do I think he should have kicked it towards the center. I say he should have passed it to Bradley or moved the ball towards the USA goal, just like Wondolowski did a couple minutes earlier.

        Everybody wants to score in the World Cup, and in that last minute Yedlin’s (and the whole team’s) intent should have been possession not attacking the goal.

        In the future if the USA is put in that position again I hope all players follow Wondolowski’s lead, and focus on maintaining possession.

        In the end the TEAM is looking great, and they are making us all proud. The rest of this World Cup, and especially 2018 should end up being something beautiful to watch!


    • Wait…
      Last night it was Michael Bradley and Geoff Cameron’s fault.
      This morning it was Graham Zusi and Jurgen’s fault because of the late sub before the 4th official announced the stoppage time.
      Now, it’s Yeldin’s fault.

      Ok, so now we know who is to blame….

    • He did go to the corner but he was converged upon by two much bigger Portuguese defenders and they won it off of him.
      Let it go… they have to get a result against Germany, it was probably always going to be the case. I hope the guys on the team aren’t as preoccupied with the last 5 minutes as you are.

  9. Maybe this is an omen. Bale was a pretty fast defender early on in his career. Yedlin has to make sure he chooses his next career move wisely and Seattle needs to learn to cover for an attacking RB, they’re always making him look bad.

  10. While I still wish we had brought one more central midfielder (like a Maurice Edu), I have to say I’m really impressed with how the youth called up to this team have delivered. It was said at the beginning on the cycle, back when Bob Senior was still in charge, that this team was going to be one of transition. When I think, that barring injury, John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin, Tim Chandler, Fabian Johnson, Julian Green, Jozy Altidore, Matt Besler, Brad Guzan, and Michael Bradley will have had this experience under their belt come 2018, possibly with the likes of Luis Gil, Joe Corona, Juan Agudelo, Terrence Boyd, Alfredo Morales, Danny Williams, joining them… nevermind the under 20’s and the other guys that aren’t even on the radar yet… the future is very bright, indeed. Plus, MLS stars like Lee Ngyuen and Will Johnson will be 31, reaching their peak playing form, and who knows maybe Diego Fgundez might have his green card by then? Haters be damned, US soccer is doing something right.

      • Edu has done his best for the MNT, but he’s essentially JJ without the skill. Strong, quick athletic CM with a good engine, but he would never pick the passes, hit the shots or have the tactical awareness that JJ possesses.
        I haven’t been a big JJ fan in years – but I’ve really grown to appreciate his game. So much heart, fitness and skill.

      • It’s because JK named his roster to early. Just like he named our home base to early. He saw Turkey create a half dozen clear chances in 30 minutes and realized he needed to clog the middle more. If he had waited until after that match he would have added another dmid as cover, and LD might have forced hos hamd and made him put him on the roster. He has motivated great. tactically he has been very good, but the home base and early roster decision has hamstrung the team and his options. To bad….another decent, but very flawed coach.

    • It does not matter if you have a Green Card, all that matters is that you have Citizenship. Besides, Diego Fgundez already has his green card. He stated so in an article last year.

    • I’m calling Twellman, “Scoop”. Funny how he has the inside track into what everyone is doing by way of substitutions, signings … what colors the coach is going to wear and etc.

      It’s like all the head trauma has opened a third dimension into a future that only he can see.
      I keed, I keed!

      • yeah, he has a habit of calling the subs in that manner, as if it’s a big insight that he can see into Klinsi’s mind or something

      • Exactly. Some of us were “calling it” days before. Yedlin was not a surprise insertion. He’s a quite reasonable choice in a close game against a team like Portugal.

      • Taylor Twellman is the John Madden of soccer commentating. And that is not meant as a compliment.

    • I thought the only reason he was on the team was to chase Ronaldo at the end of the Portugal game. I was half right, I suppose.

  11. Mr Klinssman, his name is DeAndre.

    Schell! Vee vill call him Andre on this team, as vee would in die fatherlandkopf.

  12. Very solid from him, his speed is something else. Johnson was a monster in the attacking third yesterday…maybe cut his defensive responsibility and let him start on the wing from the start?

    • i think part of the reason he is a monster offensively is because he is playing left back. If he were playing left mid, he would have a more consistent defensive marker picking him up. Right now, he can just bomb into space because the outside mids are keeping defenders busy.

    • I agree, I didn’t think Wondo had it in him but he did well. He held up the ball and did what he was supposed to, if the result was different it would have been discussed more.


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