A year ago, DeAndre Yedlin got praise from around the soccer world for his quick adaptation to his first year as a professional when he burst on the scene with Sounders FC.
Now, those same pundits are offering a bit more criticism for the 20-year-old right back. According to Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid, it isn’t a sophomore slump that has brought forth the critics.
“Everybody’s looking at if he’s playing as well as last year, but I think he’s being looked at with a more critical eye,” Schmid said. “He’s not being looked at as DeAndre Yedlin, Academy player getting some time in the first team. He’s now being looked at as DeAndre Yedlin, possible World Cup player. So the eye becomes a little more critical and a little more demanding.”
Those heightened expectations aren’t without merit. Yedlin was a finalist for MLS Rookie of the Year, an MLS All-Star, a contributor at the FIFA U-20 World Cup and now has played in two matches for the U.S. National Team as it prepares for the FIFA World Cup this June in Brazil. All the while, the 20-year old has been adjusting to a freer role with Seattle in 2014 as he becomes more and more comfortable in the right back position.
Some of that adjustment has been striking the balance between defending and joining the attack, which is an asset that puts him among the best at his position in the league.
“I’m finding that balance and that’s something I’m still working on,” Yedlin said. “Just because I have the freedom doesn’t mean I can get forward every time we have the ball. I’d like to, but you can’t take that risk. Now that I’ve gotten used to the system, they’ve given me a little more freedom. The only way to get better is to push the boundaries. I’m trying to learn every day and even within the games I’m trying to learn.”
Schmid has noticed Yedlin’s continued success and the work he has done in training to stay on top of his game, an aspect that has never been an issue for Yedlin from the time he first put on a Sounders FC Academy jersey as a U-18 player in 2010.
“We continue to talk to him. We continue to work with him. We continue to watch video with him. And he’ll continue to grow and improve,” Schmid said. “His appetite for the game is good and his desire to want to get better is good.”
With Colorado’s attacking trio of Deshorn Brown, Edson Buddle and Vicente Sanchez up next, things aren’t about to get any easier for Yedlin but as he keeps improving, those matchups will become more and more advantageous for Seattle. Kickoff against the Rapids is set for 1 p.m. PT from CenturyLink Field on Saturday.