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DeAndre Yedlin: “Players are slipping through”

Count DeAndre Yedlin among those who believe that talent in the United States is slipping through the cracks. Or in his words, the net.

Yedlin told NBC’s Pro Soccer Talk in an interview on Wednesday that he thinks there are players across the country that the U.S. Men’s National Team is not discovering. The topic of if the U.S. is doing enough to inject quality into its program has been a hot one ever since October, when the Americans embarrassingly failed to qualify for the World Cup.

Some of the sport’s longest-serving servants, including former U.S. head coach Bruce Arena, have been firm in their stances that all of the best players are already in the pipeline. Yedlin, however, disagrees.

“I do think players are slipping through the net,” Yedlin told Pro Soccer Talk. “It is a situation where we do need to reach out to some of the communities that maybe historically haven’t been as interested in soccer or some of the poorer communities because I think there are kids slipping though the net, just like there will be in any sport or in any country.

“I realize it is hard because the USA is such a big country. In that same sense there are that many more kids who could be the next ones who help us reach a World Cup final. I think as big as a country America is, we should start trying to become a powerhouse in this sport.”

Among several other things, the 24-year-old fullback also talked about what the U.S. should strive to accomplish as a program. Namely, he believes that the Americans should aim to claim the biggest prize on the international stage.

“For me, I want to win the World Cup. If that’s not the goal then I don’t think you should be playing,” Yedlin said. “A lot of people will say that isn’t realistic but for me, I will say, ‘Why?’ Why isn’t that realistic?’ Leicester City won the [English] Premier League and nobody thought that could happen but it did.

“If that’s not the ultimate goal then I think we should reevaluate things.”


  1. Many very talented players wont join club teams because theyre expensive, too many demands (like not playing on school teams) and generally nasty. As a parent I didnt want my daughters playing on them as I had heard the horror stories from parents that were involved. Things like a player could be cut at any point if they found a better player. Some players designated as reserves. In one case there were 15 players, 3 reserves. New uniforms/bags were bought and laid out at a practice. 12 of them. The reserves didnt get any. Can you imagine the cruelty there? the hurt feelings? I would have taken my kid home at that moment if I saw that. Thats what your pay for play (club teams bring)

    My girls played in college and started. Didnt need the degradation clubs brought.

  2. nice share, Gary.

    totally agree, lost in space.

    the situation used to be that (to generalize) many kids would play soccer until age 13 when they would choose baseball, basketball or forward pass rugby. i think the trend May be starting to change, but who can say yedlin is way off?

    • it doesn’t solve the problem in a fundamental way, but could we do something like “sueno mls”, a nationwide televised talent search? sueno would visit different cities and have huge open try outs, then whittle the list down to a single winner who got an mls contract. i remember jorge “sueno” flores, their first winner, scored a goal for (for chivas usa?) with his first touch! isn’t that right?

  3. I don’t believe that anyone who’s followed the sport in the US over the last 20-25 years believes for a moment a moment that we have identified all the best possible players/prospects within the US, let alone those dual nationals who could represent our country.
    Are there issues with the pay-to-play system we currently have within the US. Yes! Are we beginning to make inroads to correct the issue? Yes, but there is a long ways yet to go. Most MLS academies have only been in existence for ~5 years, and do not reach nearly deep enough (U10/11 ages), nor do they cover enough of the USA. It takes time and money to build a real academy system. Give it another 10-20 yrs….and another 10 MLS teams and we’ll hopefully be able to generate some significant depth at all levels of the US National Teams.

  4. Mary Stock – “MNTsBundesligAbOYS” tO dEaNDRE w WAYTO GO!. I’ve drawn up a plan to win the World Cup in 2 030 already. EVERYTHING DEPENDS ON WHO WE GET FOR A COACH!! I have the perfect coach in mind. European. Great name. Best success record eve.. DXeAndre, I am working right now to get the best President who will allow for the best R=European coacch there is. Whose name I have already.

  5. I have taught in elementary schools in areas heavily populated with Hispanic kids in Southern California. During recess and P.E., soccer is the default activity and they play it all the time. Public school, like high school teams, are the best outlet for the poorer kids to play. They don’t have the benefit of higher competition that the travelling squads give to the younger kids, but they still have an opportunity to develop and win a college scholarship. So, I don’t think it’s so bleak and not too many slip through the cracks. The downside is that public school teams, especially NCAA, don’t play enough for full development.

  6. Agree that Pay to play is a problem in that poorer players slip through the cracks. There are a lot of other countries have that problem too. But they usually often have one big advantage that we don’t have that helps offset it – tons of informal neighborhood pickup games that mean that poorer kids that don’t have money to travel around in the back of an SUV have great competition right in their neighborhoods. When I’m in Rio/Brazil every year to visit relatives we see tons of pickup games every day that take place on whatever patch of land is available in the city, and even tons of games on the beach. The quality of these games is pretty amazing. Pickup games in most parts of the US still seem to be pretty infrequent, so if you want to play good players, you have to travel, which is so expensive. Its true that poorer kids in Brazil do eventually need to find a sponsor/team/donor to help them reach the next level, but they don’t really need it until a later age than they do here, because they have such good soccer right in their own neigbor hoods. IMO the good news is that neighborhood games, while less frequent than in other countries, definitely seem to be increasing, and the number of adult recreational leagues seems to have increased a ton compared to 25 years ago. 25 years ago the closest adult rec team was 15 miles away and we had to drive up to an hour to play the other teams in the league. now there are three adult teams 5 mintues drive, lots of new teams in neighboring towns.

    • I have family in Brazil too outside Sao Paulo and visit almost every year. Its the same thing. Looks like basketball court but instead has small soccer goals and lines instead of basketball lines all fenced in usually and parks usually have 2-3 of these soccer courts always full. They seem to have adults running on one court and kids/teens on the others. Usually they play 7v7 and looks alot like futsal. On the beach everyone plays a game like volleyball but you have to use your feet instead of hands, very good for first touch imo. Sometimes the courts are dual in that they have a basketball hoop with a soccer goal underneath too. If USSF used some of that surplus too invest in city park courts like this for inner city and hispanic areas we could get better grassroots soccer.

      Vai Corintians!!

      • Wow – your post is exactly the way I would describe the soccer in Rio – my family lives near a little park which is basically a basketball court that sees only soccer action – with kids and adults of all ages playing all the time. We then take a short walk to the beach and watch the “soccer volleyball” games that you describe as well as some intense 7v7 games. For us the Brazilian connection will give us something to cheer about in the world up, but it doesn’t come close to erasing the agony of the US not being there. My Brazilian family does help me put the US “failure” into perspective in a weird sort of way – that 7-1 loss against Germany during the world cup seemed to depress so many Brazilians for quite a few weeks just like it did here – and similarly the press and the sports shows and online chats bought up the exact same issues that we focus on – sometimes the players, sometimes the coach and his “Sellecao” (i.e. player selcections), and sometimes the head of the Brazilian Football Federation who was responsible for “hiring THAT coach”. All of these things can play a factor there as they did here, but i also feel like the laws of statistics eventually catch up with everybody. The 7-1 score had to be at least partly due to a statistical fluke. Sooner or later we’ll have an off cycle – in the past 40 years England, Italy, Netherlands and France have all failed to qualify twice. Mexico almost missed in 2014, with a roster that, at least on paper, arguably had more talent than any other team in concacaf, including the US. I’m betting heavily that the US makes it next time with room to spare (fingers crossed)!!!

        Vai Flamengo!

  7. Yedlin is absolutely correct. Anyone who states that all the good players have already been identified is living in the 1960’s-70’s when only St. Louis, NewJersey/NewYork or California played the sport (according to the powers who were in control of player identification). They were wrong then and wrong now.

    • Just to let you know, I grew up in Southern California in the 50’s and 60’s. Southern California has probably produced a lot more top quality US soccer players than any state, but even in the mid-60’s nobody played soccer except maybe for some immigrants from other countries. In 1964 I took a college Phys Ed class which was soccer. Nobody in that class had ever played soccer before. I liked it so much that I took it again the next semester and nobody in that class had played it before either. My school, San Diego State, which later produced Wynalda, Balboa, Joe Corona and Jimmy Conrad, didn’t have a soccer team, not even an intramural one. Later I went into the service, played on a base team in 1972 and 1973(over two seasons we had maybe 3 or 4 guys out of maybe 25 who had played, a couple on college teams.) and then came back to SDSU in 1974 for graduate work. By then soccer was taking off and there was a school soccer team and a league of intramural teams. So, it started picking up in the early to mid 70-‘s.

      • Cool! I also played for a service team as well (we had some really good players). I was referring to the little pockets here and there that no one ever took notice of. I probably over estimated the California influence in that time frame because of the impact Ricky Davis had on the MNT. There were good players out there that never got noticed. Sadly, the same is true now. Bruce Arena is very wrong in his statement about ‘all the good players have been identified’.

  8. My question is who is exactly slipping through the net? What established players other than Gonzalez(maybe), Subotic(Yes) and I guess Rossi(never really had a chance) have we had a legitimate shot at and missed? If we want to continue to play the card of our best athletes are not playing soccer or we are missing out on “potential” players because they do not have access to the game we will not move forward. How many players have we identified in the last 15 years that we have taken out the the pipeline of other countries? Who have we lost that would be a difference maker for the USMNT that we had a legitimate shot at getting to play with us? I would venture to say there is a difference maker in every single country that is slipping through the cracks because they are in an area where they wont be identified.

    • Soccer in this country is a rich person’s sport.

      Who is slipping through the cracks? People that can’t pay to play. They are relegated to only playing free soccer, which Klingsman and US soccer tried to diminish at any chance they could take.

      Is “the slipping” any better than a decade or two ago. In my opinion, probably not, it has become more pay to play, way more expensive pay to play, and pay to play probably offsets any MLS academy progress.

      Deandre knows he grew up in Seattle where I live. If you want to play top level, figure on paying $3,000 a year plus expenses. Start in Junior high, figure on $20k or so per child.
      Or don’t play top level. Also the academy, they don’t have enough people to find talent, so they steal from……pay to play.

      • Quit, Klinsman never tried to diminish free soccer. He actually tried to expand because he stated the IS missing too many kids. However, that is neither here or there because we have heard the same issue for almost 25 years (at least I have).No one has come up with a viable solution. How about a system of regional teams funded by US soccer from u11 up where everything is free around certain dense population areas? How about allowing teams tgat don’t charge to play get compensation for players they develop before 18? Etc.

    • Yup. Agree completely with Quit.

      The real problem with the pay-for-play system is the fact that they wind up with a bunch of entitled dentist’s kids instead of the best players, and they conquer public field space like it’s a bloody military campaign. (Which for them it is…a bunch of grown men trying to make themselves fat feasting on what should be a kid’s game.) Worse, many of them are doing it under the guise of “non-profit” while earning salaries upwards of $200K as directors and even age-level directors.

      And they run the real talents off. They don’t beat them on the field; they just don’t let them play on the public fields the PFP clubs control and make sure no one else plays on…while the clubs themselves play in tournaments a hundred miles AWAY from home against other PFP clubs so nobody locally can see how mediocre they really are.

      I’ve watched these clubs take over entire towns, and they’re pure poison. Yeah, I want some change. Revolution, even.


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