DeAndre Yedlin remains one of the veteran players among the current U.S. Men’s National Team squad and after starting a new chapter in his club career, the right back is aiming to get back on track at the international level.
Yedlin will be looking to make his first USMNT appearance since November 2019 after being included for this weekend’s friendly at Switzerland and June’s conclusion of the Concacaf Nations League.
The Galatasaray defender is coming off his first five months with the Turkish Super Lig giants, who finished second in the league title race on goal differential. Yedlin’s transfer from Newcastle to Galatasaray figured to have the potential for some difficulty adapting to a new league, but the 27-year-old made a smooth transition to his new home.
“There’s big cultural things, going to a completely different part of the world,” Yedlin said in a conference call Wednesday. “I really enjoyed that aspect of it. I think that was one of the things that kind of drove me to leave England was just to see a different culture and kind of get out of my comfort zone again.
“As far as football wise, I was actually quite surprised by Turkey because you have some very good players, they’re very technical players, very physical.”
Yedlin made the move to Turkey in January after falling out of favor at Newcastle United, and made a smooth transition for Galatasaray. Yedlin played in 12 matches for the Turkish club, scoring one goal and registering one assist in league play.
Now after a long absence from international action, Yedlin returns to the USMNT fold hoping to stake his claim to the starting right back spot in Gregg Berhalter’s squad, a position he held for a good part of the last World Cup qualifying cycle. Reggie Cannon is the projected starter, with Sergiño Dest also capable of playing there when he’s not the first-choice left back, but Yedlin has the experience and quality to make.
“Sergino kind of came up with a younger generation so I think those guys have their own little group,” Yedlin said when asked about the other fullbacks in the squad. “He’s a great player, he can play right or left and just technically he’s so gifted.
“For me, it’s its really just to come in, do the best that I can do and try to push him to be the best that he can be, and the same for him to push me to be the best that I can be. And then you also have Reggie Cannon, Bryan Reynolds, and Antonee Robinson, all great young players. As defenders it’s great to see us continue to be put on the map.”
Yedlin was once in the shoes of his younger USMNT teammates, making his name in Europe and getting the early chances to impress in one of the world’s biggest leagues. The defender had to fight for Premier League survival and EFL Championship promotion, taking in both the good times and the bad to get to where he is now.
While many more young players continue to come through the ranks in Europe, Yedlin remains a viable option in the current USMNT player pool heading into a busy stretch that includes World Cup Qualifying starting in September. He has yet to establish himself as a starter under Berhalter, but he has arrived in camp in form and feeling confident.
“That’s obviously what we’re in this profession for is to play,” Yedlin said. So any time you’re not playing it can be a bit of a struggle, especially mentally. Just being able to get back playing, getting my form back, getting my confidence back has been huge. It’s great to be here with these guys. And it’s amazing to see the talent that’s here.
“The ages of some of these players is incredible,” Yedlin said. ” I think we’re entering some sort of golden era for U.S. Soccer. So it’s really exciting to be involved in it and then watching it also. It’s great to see the steps that are being made, and you have to give kudos to Gregg and the staff for really putting this team together because they’ve done a great job.”
The USMNT will not only be looking forward to the upcoming friendly against Switzerland, but also for the Nations League semifinal showdown against Honduras on June 3rd. It will be the first competitive match for the USMNT since November 2019, as the Americans look to reach the tournament final and play either Mexico or Costa Rica.
Yedlin, like many of the current USMNT players, has yet to lift a trophy at the senior international level despite winning a trio of trophies at club level between the Seattle Sounders and Newcastle United. With competitive matches on the horizon, the motivation to win the Nations League remains at the forefront of the players in the squad.
“I think there can be a bit more motivation now you’re fighting for a trophy and you’re playing for a trophy,” Yedlin said. “I think a lot of people say you shouldn’t be more motivated if you are playing for a trophy. A game is a game, but there is more to play for and more to be motivated about when there’s a trophy on the line.”