DeAndre Yedlin admitted feeling tired as he prepared for his first training session of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s camp ahead of October’s Nations League matches against Cuba and Canada.
Playing 90 minutes for the first time in five months will do that to you.
As tired as Yedlin may have felt, he still felt better than he had in the two years prior to Newcastle’s 1-0 victory over Manchester United. Sidelined for five months following hernia surgery, and plagued for 18 months before that with a nagging pain that affected his ability to play his best.
After surgery in May, and a recovery period that include the entire summer and start of the Premier League season, Yedlin made a triumphant return on Sunday, starting and playing a full 90 minutes against Manchester United on a day he finally didn’t feel the nagging pain that he had grown accustomed to enduring.
“I was actually thinking about it when I was warming up during the game,” Yedlin said. “It was always in warmups that it would be the worst and just to not have any pain during the warmups. It’s little things like that than can affect you during a game, if you’re uncertain about something. Just to feel 100 percent for that was very reassuring, and it felt good.”
“I’d been feeling that pain that I’d had for about 18 months before the surgery,” Yedlin said. “Up until literally the weekend, probably about two years that there’s something’s not right.”
Yedlin didn’t expect to play the entire match for Newcastle on Sunday, not in his first start after such a long layoff, but he fought through the final whistle to help the Magpies secure a sorely-needed victory.
“It’s a good win for us. I think we really needed it,” Yedlin said. “It puts a little bit of pressure off of us. Obviously going into the international break you want to go in on a win.
“For me, personally, just getting the 90 minutes gave me a lot of confidence,” Yedlin said. “I didn’t know I was going to play that long. Just to have in the back of my head that I can make it that long is a good feeling for me.”
Now Yedlin will work to try and win back the starting right back job he held for much of the 2018 World Cup qualifying cycle. The current camp is just Yedlin’s second under USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter, meaning he is still playing catch-up in a system that he knows will take time to master.
“I’ve really only spent one camp in it, so I’m still learning it, learning the ropes, and just going over video and stuff,” Yedlin said. “I like (the system). It’s a system that we’re obviously going to have to do a lot of training on and it’s tough because you only have 10 days. It’s tough because it’s also a very intricate system, but I think once we’ve got it, and once we’ve got the players in consistently and are doing the same things every camp then it’ll be a system that’s tough to beat, and I think we have the personnel to play that system.”
Reggie Cannon has started the past four matches at right back for the USMNT, but Yedlin’s experience and quality should push him right into the conversation to take over the position.
Also working in Yedlin’s favor is his role as a leader on a team that has evolved into a much younger group. He isn’t exactly old at 26, but Yedlin has experience, including his status as one of just two players (Michael Bradley the other) on the current USMNT squad to have played in a World Cup.
“I think over the last year or two years I’ve kind of had to step into that role, which I do like,” Yedlin said. “It’s a good role, and there’s some very good young players playing, and it’s good to try and lead them. Even some of the younger players are becoming leaders as well. It’s a great group and it’ll be fun to get started with them.”