The last five years have seen many great Major League Soccer players come out of the University of Akron.
The program, brought to prominence by current Portland Timbers coach Caleb Porter, has seen six players taken with the first four picks in the MLS SuperDraft, starting with Sounders FC midfielder Steve Zakuani going with the first overall pick in 2009. That list includes other high-scoring stars like Teal Bunbury, Darlington Nagbe and Darren Mattocks.
However, the Sounders FC right back has accomplished something in his first professional season that no other Akron product has achieved yet – the title of MLS All-Star.
“It’s always cool to be the first at something,” the O’Dea High School product said. “It’s a big honor, especially with the players that have come out of Akron.”
Yedlin, Seattle’s first player signed under the Homegrown Player rule, was named to the 2013 MLS All-Star squad by MLS Commissioner Don Garber. He will take the field on Wednesday as the best in MLS take on AS Roma at Kansas City’s Sporting Park.
He is joined on the team by world-renowned stars like Thierry Henry of the New York Red Bulls and the LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan, as well as a slew of stars from the U.S. National Team. In fact, seven players were on the roster for the U.S. in their CONCACAF Gold Cup final victory over Panama in Chicago on Sunday and flew to Kansas City after the match to join the MLS All-Star squad.
“They’re all amazing players that I grew up watching,” Yedlin said. “I really don’t know what to expect. I think it will be fun, so I’ll just go into it with an open mind, stay positive and I think it will be a good experience.”
The early accolades are hardly a distraction for Yedlin, though.
Even with all of the attention he’s received with his success as a rookie and the club’s first Homegrown Player, he has maintained the same good-natured approach to learn as much as he can. He also has much higher goals for himself than simply being named to the All-Star team and vows to continue to make efforts to improve his play to reach those goals.
“I haven’t technically made it until I’m the best player in the world,” he said. “Obviously I still have a long, long way to go. There is still a ton that I need to work on and I’m nowhere near where I want to be. If someday I do somehow become the best player in the world, I’m going to be the exact same person.”
The All-Star Game kicks off at 6 p.m. PT from Sporting Park with television coverage on ESPN2.