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On USMNT: Yedlin deserves to emerge from Klinsmann’s doghouse ahead of Costa Rica match

Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports

Following the U.S. Men’s National Team’s October friendlies, Jurgen Klinsmann ripped into DeAndre Yedlin. According to Klinsmann, the reality was that Yedlin “struggled” in the months following the Copa America, making the October friendlies a tipping point for the young fullback.

In the eyes of many, Yedlin took those comments to heart. Since Klinsmann’s public criticism, Yedlin claimed a spot in the Newcastle lineup while further establishing his attacking game. He appeared to have taken a step, one that would have seemingly impressed Klinsmann along the way.

It didn’t. Yedlin found himself on the bench on Friday night in favor of Timmy Chandler, who struggled mightily in the USMNT’s early three-at-the-back set. Chandler recovered before Yedlin was thrust into the game late and could only watch as Rafael Marquez headed Mexico to victory.

Even with the early struggles, Chandler remains the USMNT starter, according to Klinsmann. Yedlin, meanwhile, remains in the dog house, even if Chandler’s Friday performance showed that Yedlin is likely the more consistent and more sound option heading into Tuesday’s clash with Costa Rica.

“Timmy Chandler is playing outstanding and it’s probably his best season ever, at the moment, in the Bundesliga,” Klinsmann said. “DeAndre Yedlin, especially with us the last couple of games, and also that he went down to the second division in England, he’s been struggling. He was struggling with the recent camps. If you see every training session, you would get the confirmation that Timmy is ahead of DeAndre at the moment.”

With regards to Chandler, Klinsmann’s comments make some sense. Chandler has been hot in Bundesliga play, helping push Eintracht Frankfurt through what has been one of his best personal seasons. It’s impossible to know what Klinsmann truly sees in training but the idea that Chandler has outperformed Yedlin in recent practice sessions isn’t totally unbelievable.

Klinsmann’s comments regarding Yedlin don’t exactly line up, though. Yedlin has starred for Newcastle in recent months and has certainly provided performances worthy of a USMNT starter. Following a public lashing, Yedlin showed the strength to bounce back, earning a starting role with a team currently running through the English Championship with 12 wins in 16 games.

That makes Klinsmann’s jab at Yedlin’s club situation sound all the more bitter. Just two months ago, Klinsmann stated that Newcastle plays at “a Premier League level” while stating that Yedlin would learn from the grind that is the English Championship. Now, all of a sudden, a bonafide Newcastle starter is not good enough for the USMNT? Klinsmann’s comments seem to be a defense mechanism, one used to justify the introduction of in-form but inconsistent Chandler at the expense of Yedlin.

Reading into Klinsmann’s comments, it appears likely that Chandler will start on Tuesday against Costa Rica. Klinsmann hasn’t given up on the Eintracht Frankfurt defender yet. However, it would be wise for Klinsmann not to forget about Yedlin, a player that has been vital for the USMNT for the better part of several years.

Yedlin, not Chandler, was a part of the USMNT’s 4-0 thrashing of Costa Rica during this summer’s Copa America. It may not have been his best performance in a USMNT jersey, but Yedlin was at least somewhat effective against a tough Ticos team. Facing Costa Rica’s unique defensive set-up, Yedlin battled tricky Ticos playmakers Bryan Ruiz and Ronald Matarrita, two players that will give most CONCACAF fullbacks fits.

With that in mind, Yedlin would be a solid starting choice at right back. Not winger, not right midfielder, but right back, a position that Yedlin is more than comfortable with even if Klinsmann sees differently. His speed would cause Costa Rica fits and, with Fabian Johnson’s overlapping ability on the opposite side, the U.S. could attack Los Ticos in waves with talented options out wide. That pins Costa Rica wingbacks deep, easing the load on whoever mans the USMNT midfield.

It remains to be seen what Klinsmann does and, no matter what the selection is, it likely isn’t permanent. Both Chandler and Yedlin are too talented to write off long-term, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see both utilized in some fashion as the Hex continues.

However, for Tuesday night’s match, Klinsmann should turn towards Yedlin, a player much better than he gives him credit for. The Newcastle defender has his faults, but his abilities and recently rediscovered form would prove a weapon for the USMNT in a game that absolutely needs to produce some sort of result.



  1. JK does not rate the EFL Championship – so Ream/Spector/Lihaj don’t get NT looks even though they get a lot of playing time at their clubs. Yedlin should have signed with a team in the German 5th division to improve his chances of starting for the US

    • Respectfully (well, perhaps it’ll sound rude), SBI Staff goes for the low-hanging fruit each and every time, and resorts to borderline trolling for comments and clicks.

      I loved him as a player, but for the sake of my SBI-viewing I was absolutely elated when Donovan retired. SBI was becoming TMZ with anything JK/Donovan related for about 3 or 4 years straight.

  2. Yeah I’m with those that disagree with the premise of the article. All reports have Chandler tearing it up for club, I don’t think he played poorly at all Friday, so I’m fine with him starting against Costa Rica. I actually think Chandler deserves a chance to start in a game where all his teammates are ready to play. Look, JK helped create Yedlin and obviously rates him, so I have no doubt Yedlin will get more chances in the future.

    On a quick tangent here, I feel like the whole “formation that crippled the USMNT blunder by Klinsmann” story is a little too one-sided. I was at the game, and the players weren’t just confused, they didn’t start the game with the necessary intensity given the quality of opponent. And you know what, at some point Bradley, Jones, and company have got to become comfortable and proficient in something besides the same old 4-4-2 that has become rather outdated in modern soccer. It has its place for sure, but if we want to be able to beat Mexico and beat the crap out of the other concacaf minnows like we should, then we need a more aggressive mindset and formation. The manager should be able to trust players to give it their all regardless of where they are played or what formation.

    • After the game I wrote that one of my biggest disappointments was the in the first Half Mexico won most of the 50/50 balls, maybe 2/3. And that was just a question of desire and fight. In the second half the US equalled or surpassed them there, so the effort was clearly lacking in the first half. That wasn’t the only problem, but it certainly contributed. Once the effort was there with a better formation, we outplayed them.

    • JB man, I couldn’t agree with you more. We need to be able to do more than a 4-4-2 to play with certain teams. You have to have the tactical flexibility to understand a gameplan and move properly and if you can’t you are a player limiting team flexibility. The US is not Brazil… we can’t attempt to impose our gameplan on everyone else. We need to attempt to break up other’s plans… and it is ridiculous to call out JK for not explaining a 3-5-2 to a bunch of people who have done nothing but play soccer for the entirety of their post-pubescent lives. For fu*ks sake, oh, woe is me, how can I possibly grasp where I need to be and what my role is in such a shocking formation! I need at least a month of in depth camps with 1 hr. a night of white-board time, drawing up scenarios… gah.

    • Let’s look at the whoscored player ratings. (they are far from perfect, but it makes it a little less subjective to measure RBs/RMs from different leagues)

      Overall Chandler 6.92 Yedlin 6.86
      RB Chandler 7.12 Yedlin 7.29
      RM Chandler 6.94 Yedlin 6.32 (sub appearances)
      Last 4 Chandler (7.2,6.7,7.3,8.2) Yedlin (7.1,7.4,7.5,6.0)

      Chandler was rated man of the match against Bayern Munich, so although JK and just about everyone outside of England rates the Bundesliga better than the Championship the numbers show Chandler is performing equally to Yedlin against better competition.

    • If he preferred certain players to others, with NO regard to the level of the league they are playing in, as you are arguing, that would be even more subjective and prone to criticism.

      That a decent div. 2 player is key to our wc qualification, now that should be cause for alarm.

  3. Chandler played OK – not great, not awful. But he was definitely somewhat culpable on the first goal. Pretty lackadaisical tracking of his runner there.

    Also, Yedlin definitely gets in front of that shot with his speed/maybe tracks runner better in the first place.

    The decision between these two is really the least of our worries, but I’d definitely go with Yedlin. His attacking game has looked incredible with Newcastle lately. Also, I’m not sure Newcastle couldn’t take Frankfurt with their current form. The Bundesliga is obviously better, but NUFC is absolutely eating the Championship alive.

    • While Bradley was busy playing footsies Chandler did move in and got a foot on it causing the deflection. Omar stood there the entire time like a mannequin. If he starts Yedlin over Chandler that’s ok by me, but Chandler was not the problem

  4. I know Chandler has been underwhelming for the NT to say the least, but this is the 2nd article directed at him vs Mexico… And he was not the problem. Omar was awful, and MB was almost awful. Mexico easily outcoached JK by attacking that side. Omar should never play RCB in a back 3, and it showed. (Cameron would have been a better choice if available) If the whole team was discombobulated then how is picking out Chandler justified? Nobody knew where to go…So if he’s surrounded by Omar and MB who are both playing poorly and the 2 slowest guys on the field, this is just making him a scapegoat. Plus Yedlin made zero impact when he came on. I know JKs comments don’t add up regarding Yedlin, and Chandler could go away and nobody would care, but he wasn’t the problem in that game.

  5. I think Nagbe is in JK’s doghouse as he’d rather spend time with family. With the recent midfielder woes…Klinsmann will likely need to reprieve Nagbe as well.

    • None of it was on the record, but what eventually came out was Nagbe basically saying if I’m not starting or at least playing more minutes I don’t want to come. It wasn’t just he needed some time with his kids. Of course that’s unnamed sources so who knows for sure. Nagbe was bad for Portland this year so even if he wasn’t in the “dog house” I’m not sure he claims a spot over Gooch or Bedoya.

  6. Did Chandler insult somebody’s mother around here? Maybe I’m blacking out the first twenty minutes of the match, but I don’t remember Chandler having any more difficult of a time than anybody else. I remember thinking Bradley and Jones were awful and Gonzalez was out of his element, but nobody else was bad.

    I like Yedlin a lot and have no complaints with him, but Chandler is a better player. He is better on the ball, a better passer and at least as good of a defender. I can’t speak to whether he cares or not, but I certainly didn’t see any evidence of him not caring on Friday.

    • Bradley was a big big problem and Jones wasn’t fit and might be too old anyway. Don’t hold your breath on any article being written about Bradley’s struggles for what? 2 years now? The guy has been one of our worst players since Brazil and you never hear about it.

    • You’re blacking out over his entire tenure with the Nats. Your mother and the rest of our mothers have nothing to do with that factual reality.

      • My response was to Shaggie. I actually agree with you on Bradley being a huge liability for far too long and I’ve been one of the only people on SBI routinely saying so.

      • I’m not arguing that he hasn’t had some poor showings in the past although I’ve never thought they were as bad as others. Please point out any significant errors in the Mexico game that would lead an objective observer to single him out for criticism.

      • I’m not arguing that he hasn’t had some poor showings in the past

        …and that’s what I and most people are simply referencing. I think he has ability and shows flashes of being the answer at RB if he could be consistent, actually show up for call-ups and perform routinely how he does for club.

      • Bradley, like all players, has strengths and weaknesses. In my mind his greatest strength is his ability to be available for teammates to make a pass to. No other player so routinely is there every time a teammate looks up. That often puts him in tough situations from which he can usually escape. (For a counter example, watch Kitchen in his last USMNT game, he seemed to actually be hiding from teammates, with a defender block any passing lane to him at nearly any moment.) I suppose in principle many players are talented enough to do that, but they do not actually do it (well Beckermann does, but that is another story).

        When someone can play that role to relieve pressure, who has more talent than Bradley (that is faster, has quicker feet, can better tackler for example) Bradley will be replaced. Until then his unique gift of covering ground to be open is invaluable and he will continue to start. Since that movement is something that is easy to see in small-sided training games, I believe that JK simply has been unable to find anyone as good or better than Bradley in that essential aspect of the game.

      • Guys, there is no doubt that MB has tailed off since leaving Roma. That being said, he is still our best Defensive MF. We are just asking him to do too much. I feel like when you say, “Michael has been terrible” you mean “Michael has not been making the plays he used to make when JK had him as a 10”. Well, yeah, but he is back to being a DM. and as a DM we don’t have anyone better, and I swear if someone says kitchen, or Marcelo Palomino, or some other name picked-up seemingly at random I will… nevermind. Bradley is not the problem on this team… frankly, there are very few problems on this team. Mexico is a bad result from a tactical mis-step (and some bad finishing and a mental mistake and a Tim Howard injury and Geoff Cameron Injury… and and and). Bottom line, I am getting really frustrated with Mexico right now, but the US is what is was in Copa America, a team just below the top 6 in the world on a good day without injuries. We have a partnership at FW which, if Jozy can keep weight off and his hamstrings strong will be great. We have solid up and coming AMFs, and strong up and coming defenders. If there is a hole its DM behind Bradley. But teams don’t usually need 2… so this is minor to me.

  7. I don’t think “dog house” means what you think it means…

    Benny is in JK’s dog house. Lichaj is in JK’s dog house. Any number of players who JK has refused to call up over the past 5 years, despite the fact they are playing well, are in JK’s dog house.

    Yedlin merely lost his death grip on the RB position to a guy who is starting for a better team in a better league. I get the desire to draw readers, but these hyperbolic headlines are getting old.

    • I agree with your assessment of the term, but I don’t think Lichaj is in JK’s dog house. I think JK just doesn’t rate him as a player.

      This is based on the fact that I’ve never heard him speak publicly in a negative or less than positive fashion about him. I remember him commenting that he’d like to get a closer look at Lichaj during call-ups and see how he performs in practice, among the others and in game action. Then we never saw him again or heard him mentioned.

      Of course, we heard lunacy from our resident experts that it was related to his Polish-ancestry, but like most managers, we have call-ups and non-call-ups that puzzle us. That’s pretty common under every manager.

    • I agree that this is way over stated. If Chandler weren’t playing well for his club team in the Bundesliga, you can make a case. This is just one decent player edging out another.the last couple of times I have seen Chandler in league play, including just over a week ago, he was one of the better players on his team, is how it appeared.

  8. If I never see Chandler again in USMNT I won’t shed one tear. He may be in form, but I just don’t ever feel like the guy cares. I don’t see the extra effort to perform for his “Nation.” Some of the GDR contingent seem to embrace the pride of playing for the Stars & Stripes…I just don’t see it from him. I much prefer Yedlin.

      • You guys must not have seen chandler singing our national anthem! He was, and I know, you know that stuff matters.

      • Altidore doesn’t even put his hand across his chest but routinely shows up for the Nats and performs (even when he’s playing poorly at club).

        Sorry, I don’t value that as a metric to his performance on the pitch or the results thereafter.

  9. You are way overstating Yedlin’s position in Newcastle (7 appearances 4 as a sub in all competitions) not to mention he had a red, a penalty, and a lapse on another goal against in copa america. He as best as I can see is a player who has the natural speed to overcome his deficiencies in defense normally. The Red card in CA would make me worry before putting him in a caulderon like US v Mexico.

    • 7 starts and 4 subs, for 11 total. But I agree I think its his performance in the CA and then not playing stellar in the fall camps. Of course one wonders why JK doesn’t just say that. It did seem to take an unusually long time for Yedlin to break in at Newcastle and when he did he played on the wing until the player ahead of him at RB was suspended or injured I don’t remember.

  10. JK had more sliding scales than a molting snake. He changes his criteria to suit his own arbitrary notions. In his own mind, he has never made a roster, lineup, or tactical mistake — it is always some player’s or players’ failure to execute perfectly his plan of that particular day. This guy treats the MNT like a FIFA video game, moving players and shifting formations just because he can. I can’t wait for someone on the squad to call him out for a change.


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