It wasn’t long ago that DeAndre Yedlin was just the quiet kid with the loud haircut coming in to Sounders FC training camp as the club’s first ever Homegrown Player signing.
Now, just six months after he signed his first professional contract, Yedlin has been named an MLS All-Star, making him the first rookie to make the team since Michael Parkhurst of New England in 2005 and only the second Homegrown Player selected to the All-Star squad after Juan Agudelo made the team in 2011.
“That’s a pretty big honor. I’m excited. It’s an amazing feeling, to be honest,” Yedlin said after learning of his selection on Monday. “To be in my first year here and be thought that highly of, it’s great.”
Yedlin, 20, was chosen as one of two selections made by MLS Commissioner Don Garber alongside former Everton star Tim Cahill for the July 31 exhibition against AS Roma at Kansas City’s Sporting Park.
The right back from Seattle’s O’Dea High School played the 2010 season with the Sounders FC U-18 Academy team in the inaugural year of the Youth Development program before playing two seasons at Akron. He also mixed in an All-PDL First XI performance with the Sounders FC U-23s in the 2012 season between his freshman and sophomore years at Akron.
He has 14 MLS appearances through the club’s first 17 matches and added a crucial goal in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals against Tigres from Mexico’s first division to help Sounders FC advance to the semifinals.
It’s not the first honor for Yedlin, though, as he also earned a starting spot with the U.S. U-20 National Team for the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup last month in Turkey. He started all three Group Stage matches for the U.S., but they were unable to see their way into the quarterfinals, going 0-2-1 while earning a draw against the eventual champions from France.
“It’s a great honor for him. It’s a tremendous honor for him and our organization,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said.
That consistent performance in league play and the accolades at the youth international level made him stand out among several worthy full backs. Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes, who will coach the All-Stars and selected the 18-man gameday roster with the inclusion of the two Commissioner’s selections, indicated on Monday that Yedlin might have been chosen even without the nod from Garber.
“All of our teams in the league have done a tremendous job to this point, since we’re in the infancy stages of our academies. For Seattle to produce a player like Yedlin is fantastic,” Vermes said. “He is somebody that I considered picking without even speaking to the commissioner, but when he talked to me about him, I thought it was a great choice for him.”
To outsiders, the rave reviews on both the club and international levels may seem to be too much for a young player to handle. Though that isn’t the case with Yedlin, according to Schmid.
“He’s got a good head on his shoulders,” Schmid shrugged. “I’m sure he’ll keep himself in check.”
Asked how he deals with the mounting pressure of expectations and avoids getting too caught up in the honors coming his way, Yedlin had a similar reaction.
“I know, myself, that there’s still a lot that I need to work on to improve my game, so I just have to keep pushing at it every day in training,” he said.
That attitude is part of what has people around the league saying this could be the first of many All-Star nods for Yedlin.
The remaining All-Star lineup included all 11 players selected by the fans and five players selected by Vermes to tactically prepare for the challenge against AS Roma.
They are goalkeepers Raul Fernandez (FC Dallas) and Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake); defenders Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Aurelien Collin (Sporting Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo) and Yedlin; midfielders Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Will Johnson (Portland Timbers), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Patrice Bernier (Montreal Impact) and Cahill (New York Red Bulls); and forwards Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Marco Di Vaio (Montreal Impact), Mike Magee (Chicago Fire) and Camilo Sanvezzo (Vancouver Whitecaps).