DeAndre Yedlin joined some elite company in local soccer circles last week. Only three players from the state of Washington had ever been included on the U.S. roster for the FIFA World Cup. On Thursday, Yedlin became the fourth when he was included on Jurgen Klinsmann's 23-man roster, joining Chris Henderson, Kasey Keller and Marcus Hahnemann on that exclusive list.
"It's fantastic for DeAndre and his situation — as young as he is, as inexperienced as he is right now at the international level — to get that opportunity and to get that exposure," Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said.
Yedlin, a Seattle native and O'Dea High School product, worked his way up from the Sounders FC Academy in 2010-11, then went to Akron University, where he played two seasons before signing as Sounders FC's first Homegrown player prior to the 2013 season.
In that year, he earned a spot on the U.S. squad for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, was named to the MLS All-Star team and was a finalist for MLS Rookie of the Year. That led to his inclusion in January camp with the U.S. National Team and his first cap in a friendly against South Korea in February. He made his second appearance in April in a friendly against Mexico.
His meteoric rise represents something special in his hometown and in MLS, where he becomes the first Homegrown product to make the U.S. World Cup squad.
Already a shining example for the Sounders FC Academy players to follow, this adds another feather in his cap and another thing for those players to strive for, knowing the road has been laid by Yedlin.
"I think it's something for all the kids in the academy and the kids in the Seattle area to look at and say there's a path that leads not only to professional soccer, but there's a path that leads to the World Cup," Schmid said.
Yedlin, 20, is the second youngest player on the U.S. roster, but his speed at the right back position provides a unique ability that can't be matched by any of his teammates. Though inexperienced at the international level, those talents can carry him far as he works in the coming weeks to not only earn playing time in the World Cup, but also to develop on the field.
"We all have a lot of faith in DeAndre's talent level and his ability, and I think he's made great strides since he's played here," Schmid said. "I think there are still things he can become better at. I'm sure Jurgen feels the same way and I know DeAndre feels the same way. But he's continuing to grow, he's continuing to develop, and this is just another step in that development."
The U.S. National Team will start its Sendoff Series on Tuesday against Azerbaijan at San Francisco's Candlestick Park. It will continue on June 1 against Turkey at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ, and conclude against Nigeria on June 7 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.