Entering the 2013 season, DeAndre Yedlin wasn’t sure what to expect from his rookie season in Major League Soccer.
The Seattle native and University of Akron product was slated to play behind Swedish National Team right back Adam Johansson going into preseason and at 19 years old Yedlin was ready to learn from the veterans and play when opportunities arose. Instead, he earned the starting role in preseason and flourished as one of the top rookies in MLS.
“You don’t really think about it as it comes,” Yedlin said of his early success. “I just try to do everything I can to help the team win.”
Yedlin would go on to lead Sounders FC with 30 starts, was an MLS All-Star and shined in the playoffs despite suffering an ankle injury in the Knockout Round against the Colorado Rapids.
In that match, he played only in the first half before being replaced at halftime, but was outstanding in helping Seattle shutout a potent Colorado attack.
Then against Portland in the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinals, he was a second-half standout as Sounders FC attempted to comeback from a 5-1 aggregate deficit to narrow the margin to 5-3 with a goal and an assist from the right back.
While encouraged by those two halves of soccer, Yedlin hopes they can come more consistently in his second season.
“The last two games against Colorado and the second half against Portland, I’ve really tried to stay focused,” Yedlin said. “Sometimes I lapse in and out and that’s one thing I have to learn – to stay 100-percent focused for the whole game. That’s something I’ll improve on.”
In that second half against Portland, Yedlin was playing in a more offensive role as Seattle tried to come back and that put Yedlin in position to succeed offensively.
On a long throw from the left side, Yedlin was left alone at the far post and when the ball spilled out to him, he was ready to pounce and put it in the net for a goal. Then moments later, he whipped a pinpoint cross to find Eddie Johnson for a header.
“DeAndre did well. DeAndre played with a lot of energy. We pushed him up and let him go more offensive on the right side in the second half and he rewarded us with a goal and with a great assist,” said Head Coach Sigi Schmid. “He continues to improve. His work, his sprinting, his running make it happen.”
It was that late poise that belies Yeldin’s youth, but if he is just known as a good player without the qualifier of being young, that’s just as well for the O’Dea High School product as he now turns his focus toward his second MLS season.
“I don’t like to use the excuse that I’m young. There are a lot young players doing a lot better than I am in a lot better leagues than I am,” Yedlin said. “That’s where I want to get, so every day I’m striving to get there. We’ll do the work in the offseason and come back fresh and ready for next year.”