Could DeAndre Yedlin Be Handed a Start for USMNT Against Belgium?

Joe TanseyFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2014

USA Today

Just like every manager at this stage of the World Cup, Jurgen Klinsmann has some big decisions staring him in the face for the Tuesday clash against Belgium. 

One of the choices the United States manager has to weigh comes on the wing, where his two regulars have not done great, but his one young substitute has provided a spark over the last two games. 

When Klinsmann handed a start to Alejandro Bedoya against Ghana and Portugal, he expected the experienced winger to be able to work well on the right wing with Fabian Johnson on both sides of the ball.

After failing to show his worth in those two contests, Bedoya was benched in favor of Brad Davis, whose start on the left wing shifted Graham Zusi over to the right. 

None of the three players impressed much against Germany in the final Group G game, which leaves the door wide for DeAndre Yedlin, the 20-year-old speedster who plays in Major League Soccer for the Seattle Sounders.

Yedlin's inclusion on the 23-man roster was questioned by many before the World Cup, but in the last two games, he has shown that he is a force to be reckoned with on the wing in front of Johnson. 

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Although he has shown that he can deliver a ton of pace and agility on the right wing, he is still a natural right-back, which may lead Klinsmann to keep him on the bench in favor of Bedoya or Zusi. 

However, this is the World Cup, where your regular position can be thrown out the window in favor of the good of the team. 

Just look at teams like Germany and Belgium, who have employed center-backs on the wings because they are too talented to be left on the bench by their respective managers. 

One of those players, Jan Vertonghen, could be in the direct path of Yedlin, if he gets handed a surprise start, which is something that Klinsmann should seriously consider given his contributions to the team off the bench.

In Manaus against Portugal, Yedlin was brought on to wear down a tiring Portuguese back four, and he was able to break through in the 81st minute to set up the second goal of the for the Yanks. 

Yedlin sprinted down the right wing, found the byline and then chipped in a cross that, after touching Michael Bradley and Zusi, found the midsection of Clint Dempsey, who finished past Beto. 

In the clash against Germany, Yedlin was brought on to do the same thing, which put a bit of a scare into the German defense.

The other dimension to the addition of Yedlin in the starting 11 would be his defensive skills, which would let him sit back and allow Johnson to run forward on occasion. 

Not only would he be able to cover for Johnson, but if a counter were to spring up, the two players with a ton of pure speed could easily fly by a few defenders to create a chance. 

Yedlin's potential place in the team also takes the pressure off of Johnson's shoulders a bit, and it allows the right-back to stay back and defend, which he is going to have to do to keep Eden Hazard quiet in Salvador. 

If Yedlin is able to pack a punch moving forward, Johnson will not have to surge ahead as much as he usually does, which would lead to fewer holes in the American defense if Belgium were to counter. 

Starting Yedlin is a very enticing decision for Klinsmann, but whether or not he pulls the trigger for an important round of 16 clash, is something he probably will not decide on until early Tuesday. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.