DeAndre Yedlin enjoyed a sudden rise in 2013, going from a relative unknown to a Major League Soccer All-Star and even popping up on the United States men’s national team radar by the end of the year.
Yedlin is one of many current MLS youngsters who are a product of the soccer factory created at the University of Akron by Caleb Porter, who now coaches the Portland Timbers. Yedlin played two seasons of college soccer, then signed a homegrown-player contract with the Seattle Sounders in January 2013.
In the 2013 MLS season, he quickly became a household name, garnering Team of the Week honors in Week one on his debut and then being named to the MLS All-Star team in his rookie campaign.
Over the summer, Yedlin represented the United States at the under-20 level in the 2013 U-20 World Cup in Turkey. Although the U.S.’s experience at the U-20 World Cup was an overall disaster, Yedlin was one of the few American players who impressed.
After starting 32 games for the Sounders in 2013, USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann called Yedlin in for the team’s 2014 January camp. At the conclusion of the camp, Yedlin earned his first senior cap for the U.S. in a friendly against South Korea. It was only a short cameo, but considering Yedlin’s talent, it could be a sign of big things to come.
Yedlin is still a long shot to make the U.S.’s World Cup team in 2014, especially considering the number of players likely in front of him at the moment. In 2013, Klinsmann played eight different players at right-back including Tony Beltran, Geoff Cameron, Timmy Chandler, Michael Parkhurst, Fabian Johnson, Brad Evans, Eric Lichaj and Michael Orozco. And that glut on the right doesn’t even include USMNT stalwart Steve Cherundolo.
However, none of those eight made a definitive case for the job and only four months out from the team’s trip to Brazil, Yedlin is still in the mix.
But even if Yedlin doesn’t make the 2014 team, he could still very well be the team’s future at right-back. Cherundolo will definitely be done after 2014—if he isn’t already. Cameron will be 32 years old by the 2018 World Cup and, if he’s still playing, will likely be at center-back.
Michael Parkhurst will be 34 by 2018 and Orozco will be 32. Chandler and Lichaj will still be young enough to play in the Russian World Cup, but Chandler is not exactly in Klinsmann’s good graces and Lichaj doesn’t seem to be a favorite of the coach. And Klinsmann likely isn’t going anywhere, having signed an extension through the 2018 World Cup.
The 2018 World Cup is still a very long way away, but Yedlin has to be one of the early favorites to stake a claim to the right-back job after 2014. Along with other American youngsters like Shane O’Neill, John Anthony Brooks, Chris Klute, Greg Garza, Andrew Farrell and Will Packwood, the U.S. should have plenty of defensive talent heading into the future.
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