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Yedlin credits Sunderland experience for improving his defensive game


DeAndre Yedlin may not be enjoying the thrill of a title chase with Tottenham this season, but he believes he’s gaining something far more valuable during his time with relegation battlers Sunderland.

The Tottenham loanee joined the Black Cats a couple of games into the current EPL campaign, and he has featured more regularly at right back in recent weeks as the club attempts to avoid being relegated to the English Championship. Yedlin believes playing under manager Sam Allardyce has helped him develop into a better defender overall.

“My defensive side was something I wanted to work on, especially coming into the Premier League,” Yedlin said. “I felt that was the area of my game that needed the most improvement and the gaffer has really helped me with that.

“Positional awareness comes with experience, so getting game time helps, but we also work a lot in training as a back-line and also on defensive shape.

“Before, sometimes if the ball was played over my head I wouldn’t know where I was but now I feel a lot more comfortable,” Yedlin said. “Sometimes I would be going forward when it really wasn’t the right time to go too, but now I’m picking my moments better.”

Sunderland is currently third from bottom on the table, and will face league-leading Leicester City at the Stadium of Light on Sunday. Including this weekend’s game, Sunderland only has seven matches remaining to move out of the drop zone.


  1. Wouldn’t mind seeing him turn this into a permanent move if Sam Allardyce remains as manager. Even if they get relegated.

      • Yedlin basically admits here that he didn’t know how to play RB positionally and needed work on his defending and you criticize JK for playing him at mid? Maybe he is ready now, but I didn’t think he was ready before maybe the Guatemala games. This JK criticism is often irrational and counter factual. I have criticized JK on many occasions, but at least my criticism is based on sound logic and I provide alternatives to what he has done, something I rarely see done here. It’s called an ad hominem attack. It contributes nothing to the discussion. We get that you don’t like him. Now try providing some insight.

      • That’s fine but then he shouldn’t be on the field. There are better right midfielders in the US pool other then Yedlin. We need to stop trying to fit our best 11 players on the field and put the best at each position.

      • Gary: The fact that Yedlin admitted that he needed to improve at RB does not support an argument that it was sensible to play him at RM. I did NOT argue that he has always been great at RB. I was poking fun at JK’s past decisions to play him at RM — a position where, as far as anyone on this board has told me, he has never played at any professional club. Maybe, just maybe, he was not ready for MNT duty at any position, and JK was looking for a way to squeeze him into the lineup.

    • In this debate I often wonder if people realize that yedlin has only played forward his entire LIFE until he got to Seattle… He played, what, 2 seasons there then went to EPL as a defender……. Yet you can’t understand why a coach would use him some at RM/RW….?…… He ….. Was….. A …… Striker…… Let him learn to be a wingback. A lot of good wingbacka were once speedy strikers. Sure his best top level position may be wingback but it doesn’t mean he can’t play in the attack or if a coach plays him there then that coach is THE WORST EVERRRRRRRRRRRRR……
      Just funny when factual reality is all that’s needed to prove people wrong.

      • Sorry, DLOA and Gary — but what are the facts? Before Yedlin turned pro, was he a striker, as DLOA claims? Or a right back, as Matt points out? Hasn’t he spent his entire pro club career as a right back? Has he ever played right mid for a club?

      • Brain Guy–I made my comment based on what Yedlin himself said. Read the article. He said he didn’t know how to position himself and his defending needed work. That doesn’t sound like a good RB to me if he doesn’t know where to go and can’t defend BY HIS OWN WORDS. That is his own opinion, not mine or anyone else’s. So, you don’t want to believe Yedlin and think he was a good RB even though he is basically saying he wasn’t? I swear, the arguments here get more and more divorced from reality.

      • You are surely all right, he has played both positions growing up, as most players tend to do in this game. Yedlin’s comments speak more directly to the fact that he needed to go to Europe – ie. the highest level in soccer – to play at a higher level and learn to play his position more effectively from great coaches. Miazga just recently said the exact same thing on Americansoccernow in not so subtle words. Many other people who know a lot about soccer, notably the hated-one who is getting paid a lot of money to improve our team, argues the same thing but gets ridiculed for doing so.

      • His comments, as do those by Miazga, come off as a player that needed to go to the Premiere League(Europe) to become a better player positionally and if that’s the case then he has proven those of us right that complain about MLS not being a very good development league which essentially hurts the national team. I don’t think anyone is under the illusion that there is better training or development here as opposed to the top leagues overseas, considering MLS is still a very young league, but it doesn’t make it any easier to hear our best young players in a not so subtle way say that they are getting better in Europe. JK has preached this and most of us would agree with that premise but it doesn’t necessarily have to be an indictment on our league considering our success in the last 4 WC’s.

      • To me it is not an indictment at all of MLS, the league develops decent players and to a point where some of them are ready to jump to the next level. There are many examples over the years, of which Miazga and Yedlin are the latest. Many top leagues are happy to play the role of feeder, and it indirectly improves their league by allowing more youth to come in. The problem is, solely, that MLS isn’t interested in that. So any indictment is on their own selves. Their politics help prevent player movement, and their commissioner will throw a hissy fit if someone says something negative about the league. Therefore many of their young followers will too. MLS lives in a marketed reality, an esoteric one at that, not yet fully adapted to the global game.

        That said, having followed since Tab Ramos signed for the league, I still watch. But it can be painful to, because the quality, drowned out so often by the league-initiated hype, still can’t compare to any number of other games also on tv during the weekend.

      • Matt- although I learned my “Intel” from “the horse’s mouth”(an interview with yedlin elaborating how he’s still learning to play defense because he hadn’t all his life–this was circa 2013), it is also easy to find such information online such as:

        Yedlin began playing soccer at age four and learned while watching his uncle from the sideline. Seattle Sounders youth director Darren Sawatzky first saw him play at age eleven and later said that Yedlin was “an offensive player at the time, he was tricky, he had explosiveness and could run for days.”

        This all lends itself to prove that yedlin played forward(winger) in his youth days. To add, if my memory serves, this Seattle scout got his Akron coach to start playing him at RB because Seattle knew he could be a great wingback……. So he may well have played RB at Akron, but that doesn’t undermine what I was speaking to

      • Matt- further (simple) research found this lovely quote from the Akron head coach (Caleb porter):

        “…and we’re big on taking guys that are attacking guys and making them outside backs and I thought he was a good fit.”

        From that point forward, Yedlin transitioned to the role of right back and played exceptionally well for the Sounders FC Academy team during the 2010-2011 season.

        And even further, when he got to Akron, he had already been scouted and played for sounders (youth teams). So me saying he was an attacking player prior to Seattle wasn’t incorrect…….

        Good ol’ facts…

      • So Yedlin played as an attacker before he hit to Akron, and has played RB ever since, and that makes him a good fit to play RM on the national team? Whatever you say, boss.

      • Brain- no, my point was merely that he had grown up playing winger/striker this its not totally outlandish to use him at wing since he knew the position. Perhaps his best position at the pro level is RB, sure I’ll agree there, but A)him playing forward is nothing new to him(thus a coach isn’t moronic for putting him there) and B) it is immensely common for a professional singer to have experience playing wide forward. Thus, using him in the attack, again, isn’t moronic. Especially with a young player who is still learning to defend. What’s better, having a RB that is unsure of where to be or a fast speedy winger that can create chances? I’d say the latter and so did jk. As yedlin settles into RB position jk will most likely use him there more. How is this hard to understand for people? Yedlin at rw/rm is NOT the same as all of these “Dempsey at GK! Howard at left winger!” Nonsensical stabs at jk.
        Most want yedlin at RB. But remember, 2-3 years ago everyone saw his speed and wanted him in the attack……..

        Point being, a player comfortable at winger, being transitioned to RB, is allowed to play at winger sometimes. It’s not that crazy. Actually not crazy at all. Tell me dani Alves can’t play rw….. Tell me Marcelo can’t play lw…… Tell me Daley blind can’t play winger………

        Go ahead….
        Tell me…. lol

  2. Kid us getting better every week. Now to see how long before JK gives him the permanent RB role fir the Nats.


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