It was a week of affirmation and some stern tests for DeAndre Yedlin last week, as the 20-year-old Sounders FC defender earned his second cap with the U.S. National Team in a friendly against Mexico, then played a key role late in Seattle’s 4-4 draw with the Portland Timbers.
“DeAndre Yedlin stepped up his game today,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said on Saturday. “Where he’d been playing not, sometimes, aggressive enough for me, today he was a lot more aggressive, especially in the second half and as a result of a good, aggressive run he drew the penalty kick.”
After facing a first-half full of 2v1 situations and 1v1s with Portland’s Darlington Nagbe, Yedlin came out with two stellar plays to help Seattle earn the road point against a Timbers team that hasn’t given away many points at home under Head Coach Caleb Porter.
With his former University of Akron coach on the opposing sideline and another Akron alum challenging him throughout the first half, Yedlin made the necessary adjustments at halftime and came up big when Seattle needed him to.
In the 65th minute, Portland defender Norberto Paparatto got his head to a corner kick that ricocheted off the bottom of the crossbar and may have gone across the line to give Portland a 5-2 lead if not for Yedlin being in the right place at the right time to get the goal-line clearance.
Later, in the game’s dying moments, Yedlin made a daring run onto a loose ball in the box and drew a foul call on another Akron product, Ben Zemanski, to give Seattle the equalizing penalty.
That instant put a positive finish on a week that will be marked as an educational experience for Yedlin, particularly with the matchup against one of Major League Soccer’s more dynamic attacking players in Nagbe.
“I thought there were times that I was a little bit over-aggressive with him and he’s a guy that you can’t do that with because he will slip you pretty easily.
There were times that I thought I did OK and there were times when I was in a 2v1 situation and there’s not a lot you can do about that,” Yedlin said. “That’s just stuff that we need to work on in practice and I need to work on on my own is defending players like that. Those are the kind of players that, at the national level, are going to be there every game. Maybe even better ones than that.”
Yedlin continued his exposure to international matches last Wednesday in a friendly against Mexico, playing the final 18 minutes in a 2-2 draw at University of Phoenix Stadium. It was his second cap after playing 18 minutes against South Korea in February and he continues to develop with each opportunity to work with the U.S.
National Team. He was able to approach his second appearance with a lot fewer nerves than his first just two months earlier.
“I could relax a little bit more,” Yedlin said. “I think I got in a groove and I’m looking to build on that.”
The U.S. National Team will play three more matches before departing for Brazil, facing Azerbaijan, Turkey and Nigeria from May 27-June 7 before opening the World Cup on June 16. While his inclusion in those matches isn’t yet clear, Yedlin has plenty on his plate ahead of that, starting with Seattle’s next big test on the road against unbeaten FC Dallas on Saturday.