On his birthday, Yedlin impresses in first Sounders appearance since World Cup

There are many ways to celebrate a 21st birthday. DeAndre Yedlin decided to celebrate his by playing 90 minutes in his return to Sounders FC in a 3-1 overtime win over the Portland Timbers in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal at Starfire Stadium.

The young right back was making his return from the 2014 FIFA World Cup, where he garnered attention from the masses with his 112 minutes off the bench for the U.S. National Team. On Wednesday, just three days after landing back in his hometown after a whirlwind media tour, Yedlin continued to impress by putting pressure on the Portland defense with his blistering runs up the right side.

“I thought he played well. He was very sharp, especially in the first half,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “He made some good runs forward and this is a difficult field to get forward as an outside back. I thought he did some really good things.”

Yedlin missed six regular season matches and two more in the Open Cup since leaving to join U.S. National Team camp on May 12. In that time, Seattle went 4-1-1 while using Jalil Anibaba, Zach Scott and Brad Evans in his vacated right back spot.

When he returned to training on Monday and indicated to the coaching staff that he would be ready to play as soon as they needed him, Schmid put him in the starting lineup against the Timbers.

“He said he felt fine and we felt that he was a guy that could play tonight and turn around again for Sunday,” Schmid said, also explaining why he was subbed out before overtime. “He had cramps a little bit and that’s why we took him out.”

Getting a player of Yedlin’s caliber back in the lineup was always going to be a boost for Seattle, but the immediacy of his impact made the return all the more vital.

It was clear in the stands and on the field.

“DeAndre’s playing at another level. That’s great to see,” Sounders FC forward Kenny Cooper said. “We’re lucky to have him.”

With a win over the rival Timbers already unwrapped, Yedlin hopes to have another gift to open on Sunday when Seattle meets Portland again at CenturyLink Field.

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