Name: DeAndre Yedlin
Born: July 9, 1993, in Seattle
Pro club: Seattle Sounders/Tottenham Hotspur
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Why is he in the news?
The 21-year-old right back made headlines this week when rumours of his impending transfer from MLS to the Premier League were confirmed. Yedlin inked a four-year deal with Tottenham Hotspur that will see him remaining with the Seattle Sounders—currently sitting first in MLS’s Western Conference—through the end of the current season before joining his new team in 2015.
Even before news of the transfer, Yedlin’s name had been making the rounds of late—and not just because of his distinctive, ever-changing hair. His inclusion on the U.S. national team’s World Cup roster was a surprise to many, but coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s faith in the youngster paid off. Yedlin’s breakout performance at the World Cup sparked a fury of interest abroad, with fans of various European clubs calling for their teams to sign the young American.
So it’s been a whirlwind summer for Yedlin, who is only in his second season of professional soccer. With his current team in contention for the MLS Cup, and his future in the Premier League now confirmed, the stage is set for Yedlin to become a household name.
He’s special because
Yedlin’s remarkable speed and athleticism set him apart from other defenders. His excellent ball interception and his ability to play wide have earned him high praise, as has his aggressive style of play—he likes to get forward, but he also has the stamina to get back into his defensive position quickly. And while his decision-making is lacking at times, he’s young enough that there’s still time for him to mature into his role.
Yedlin joined the Seattle Sounders youth academy for the 2010–11 season. He spent two years at the University of Akron—where he made 20 appearances and notched six assists in his freshman year—before signing with the Sounders’ first team on Jan. 11, 2013. He was the team’s first homegrown player. Yedlin made his debut with the club on March 2, 2013, when he was just 19 years old. In his first season, he was named to the MLS All-Star Team, making him the first rookie to receive that honour since Michael Parkhurst in 2005. Yedlin was named to the All-Star Team for the second consecutive year this summer.
On June 7, 2013, Yedlin was named to the U.S. U-20 team for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey. His first call-up to the senior team came in January 2014, and a month later, he made his debut in a friendly versus South Korea. Yedlin, who now has seven caps, had a solid World Cup showing. He sat out the U.S.’s first match, but came in as a late second-half substitute in the game against Portugal, when he swiftly helped to set up a goal by Sounders teammate Clint Dempsey to put his team up 2–1 (the game would end in a 2–2 draw). “We have DeAndre in our group for a reason,” coach Klinsmann said after the game. “He has the qualities to make an impact in the game right now in this World Cup, which he did.”
His most famous moment
Yedlin’s most famous moment to date came in his gutsy World Cup performance in the U.S. team’s 2–1 loss to Belgium. Yedlin entered the game as a replacement for the injured Fabian Johnson and faced attacking threat Eden Hazard—whom many have called Belgium’s answer to Lionel Messi—doing an admirable job of containing him. Despite his team’s loss, Yedlin was lauded for his ability to frustrate Hazard and for his energetic, lightning-quick style of play.
Here’s an interesting fact
Yedlin, who was raised by his grandfather and step-grandmother, learned to play soccer when he was four years old but was a multi-sport athlete through high school. As a teenager, he competed in track and field events—including long jump, despite his relatively short stature—and even played football, despite a busy competitive-soccer schedule.
He said it
“It’s a big move, but I feel like I’m ready for it. But it won’t change my focus for Seattle for the rest of the season. My main goal right now is still to win the MLS Cup.”
What they’re saying about him
“He’s fearless. He gets forward. He’s strong. He’s fast.” —U.S. men’s national team goalkeeper Tim Howard