The recent trend has been footballers going from Europe to MLS, but for young DeAndre Yedlin, it is the opposite. The Seattle born youngster turned a lot of heads in the MLS, and even more when he was named in Klinsmann’s 30-man-squad for the World Cup in Brazil last year. A regular under coach Sigi Schmid domestically – he made over 70 appearances – Yedlin has also represented his country 10 times and impressed at the World Cup.
A right-back by trade, Yedlin is the perfect example of a modern day full-back. He can dominate the entire flank with ease. Blessed with incredible pace, you often see him bombing up and down the flank for the entirety of a match. Yedlin can also play a slightly ahead and has been handy as a winger in a lot of games.
His impressive performances at the World Cup meant a host of European clubs were suddenly very interested in acquiring his services. Tottenham Hotspur were eventually successful and signed the player in the summer of 2014. He was loaned back to Seattle and came to London in January. When he was brought in, Spurs fans were excited by his arrival as neither Kyle Walker nor Kyle Naughton had really excelled in the role. Naughton of course, departed for Swansea in that same window and the Spurs faithful thought that it would allow Yedlin to stake a claim for the first team. It was not to be.
Yedlin made his Premier League debut on April 11, 2015, in a loss to Aston Villa, in what has been his only appearance for the club so far. Spurs bought Burnley’s impressive Kieran Trippier in the summer, which meant that the American went further down the pecking order.
The 22-year-old was part of a deadline day loan deal from Tottenham to Sunderland, where he was expected to get more chances to play. That didn’t really happen for a long while but things started looking up for him recently. He featured in the League Cup loss to Manchester City where he also provided an assist in an otherwise forgettable 4-1 loss. A week later he earned his first ever EPL start in Sunderland’s 2-2 draw against West Ham. Two starts meant the player was picked for USA’s friendlies as well.
Now that Sam Allardyce has come in for the Black Cats, perhaps Yedlin will get more chances. Things do seem to be looking on the rise for the right-back once again. He could hope to cement his place in the starting 11 under Big Sam. It might be a tough ask though. Allardyce is known to prefer bigger and more physically imposing defenders. Yedlin doesn’t fit the category as he is smaller, faster and while a threat in attack, he is sometimes compromising at the back. However, the former West Ham manager might try to make use of him in the midfield. If Allardyce thinks that Sunderland needs more width in the team and decides to play wingers, Yedlin might get a spot on the right flank. The player is familiar with that role, has been operated in the position in the past and might actually prove to a wild-card in the spot. A lot of young players have been doing well operating in a less preferred position. Joe Gomez of Liverpool, ideally a centre back, started a number of fixtures for Brendan Rodgers as a left-back and was really impressive. Eric Dier, a defender, has been deployed by Pochettino as a defensive midfielder and has done incredibly well. Yedlin too, might shine in that role.
Of course it is early and things can’t be predicted so easily. Allardyce might just prefer the youngster and use him at the back or not use him at all. It would be very sad if Yedlin doesn’t get chances to prove himself once again and be a real waste of massive raw talent.
The 22-year-old spoke with maturity recently, when he was asked what he has learnt in the Premier League so far. He said, “Just to be patient. I didn’t play a tonne at Tottenham, so I had to grind every day. I had to do what I could everyday to keep myself positive, keep myself going, stay patient, and now I’ve got my loan move to Sunderland and started my first Premier League game a few days ago.”
Yedlin definitely has the talent. If he remains patient and gets the coach who believes in him, he might finally be able to show the Premier League what the hype was all about.