The Sounders have had many “firsts” to celebrate over the course of their history.
Sebastien Le Toux was the first player signed back in 2008 after his MVP season for Seattle in the USL in 2007. Freddie Ljungberg was the club’s first Designated Player and was MLS Best XI in 2009. Kasey Keller was the team’s first captain and led the club for three seasons before retiring after the 2011 season. Steve Zakuani was the club’s first SuperDraft pick, going first overall in the 2009 draft and has gone on to shine as one of the league’s brightest young stars. Fredy Montero scored the club’s first goal in their inaugural match and has gone on to net 60 goals and 43 assists across all competitions.
This week, the club announced another first as defender DeAndre Yedlin was signed as Seattle’s first Homegrown Player.
“It’s amazing to start my professional career in a place where I started playing soccer in the first place,” said Yedlin, 19. “That’s why I think I’m so excited, just to be able to perform in front of all the fans. It’s very exciting for me.”
The former O’Dea High School standout played in the first year of the Sounders FC Academy before playing two seasons at the University of Akron and brings some flare to the right back position.
In two seasons with the Zips, Yedlin played 45 matches, totaling six assists in each season for a team that went 33-5-7 in that time.
After watching James Riley on the right side for three years and then Adam Johansson last year, Yedlin is looking forward to contributing a similar approach for the right side of the defense.
“I like to attack, a lot, so the attacking mindset will help me to succeed in Seattle,” he said.
While he will follow those two, who along with Zach Scott have taken up the majority of the minutes at right back over the last four years, he is also blazing a bit of a trail of his own. As the club’s first Homegrown Player, he is hoping to set a trend of success within the club that started with the youth development system and extends through to the first team.
“I feel honored and blessed to have the opportunity to be the first. I know there will be more to come and hopefully I can start a path for the next Homegrowns to come,” he said.
In addition to his time with the U18 Academy team, Yedlin also played for the Sounders FC U23 team in the PDL last summer, earning All-PDL First Team honors after posting one goal and one assist while playing every minute in 16 matches for the Tacoma-based club.
He will join the Sounders FC in training camp beginning on January 21.