DeAndre Yedlin

Homecoming: DeAndre Yedlin excited to return to Seattle, face Sounders with Inter Miami

Yedlin Interview Cover Photo

Ahead of the Seattle Sounders’ match against Inter Miami on Saturday night (7 p.m. PT; FS1, FOX Deportes, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS), we caught up with former Homegrown star DeAndre Yedlin, who returns to Seattle for the first time since 2014 after an eight-year career abroad. [Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for clarity.]

SoundersFC.com (SFC): You’re a Seattle native, you’re the first Homegrown Player in Sounders history, and now eight years later you’re about to play at Lumen Field again. What do you think it’s going to feel like stepping onto that pitch?

DeAndre Yedlin (DY): I don’t know, I haven’t put any expectations for it because I want to be in the moment and be present with it. But it’s going to be great to be home.

SFC: How many friends and family are you expecting?

DY: At this point, there’s probably 15 and that’s being conservative. I think there are more people who want to go but I can’t get all the tickets in the stadium [laughs]. 

SFC: You’re still a favorite son in the city of Seattle. What do you expect the reception for you to be like?

DY: I hope it’s a warm welcome. The fans were great to me when I was there and through my process going to Europe and even coming to Miami. They’ve shown love throughout the whole thing, and I’m sure it will be no different when I come home.

GET YOUR TICKETS FOR INTER MIAMI

GET YOUR TICKETS FOR INTER MIAMI

We host Inter Miami and former Homegrown Player DeAndre Yedlin for the first time at Lumen Field on April 16. Get your tickets today!

SFC: What is your fondest memory of your time with the Sounders?

DY: Probably my debut. That was a big moment, not just for me but for my family. To be able to enjoy that moment with my family and friends. That’s what kicked off my career.

SFC: How much you have grown as both a player and a person in the time since you left for England in 2014?

DY: Immensely. Whenever you can really feel it within yourself that you’ve grown a lot, and not just people telling you, then it’s been a big growth. I’m happy. I’m in a great stage of my life right now and doing really well. I wouldn’t want anything else.

SFC: You’ve known former Sounders Sporting Director and current Miami Chief Soccer Officer Chris Henderson since you were a kid. How would you describe your relationship with him and how influential was he in signing with Miami?

DY: He’s a guy that I trust fully, and we’ve had a great relationship. Not just now and back in Seattle, but all the way through. When I was in Europe, he would check in. He was a huge influence to come to Miami and the project we’ve got going on here. I was excited to be involved in that.

SFC: It’s still pretty early, but what are some of the differences you notice about the league when you left vs. the league now?

DY: It’s better in all aspects. Guys are getting much better technically. The talent the league is bringing in has been great. The organization on the field has been much better. You see a lot more fans coming out. It’s definitely growing. I’m excited to see what Seattle is like and compare it to when I left. Obviously, Seattle has set a standard in MLS, so it will be great to see those fans again.

SFC: You’ve been a huge Sounders supporter from afar, especially when the club won MLS Cup in 2016 and 2019. What was that like watching and rooting from abroad?

DY: It was difficult because you always want to be a part of it, but I’m so proud of those guys. A lot of those guys who were a part of those groups I’ve still kept in touch with and am close with, and even on this team now, there’s a lot of guys I’m still close with. You always want to see your friends do well. I was really happy for them then and hopefully come Saturday it’s going to be business on the field, but off the field it’s always a good friendship.

SFC: From a pure sporting perspective, what are you expecting from the Sounders as an opponent coming to play here on Saturday? What kind of match are you anticipating?

DY: When you think about the Sounders organization and how they’ve been throughout the years, even back when I was there, it’s always been a really honest team. It’s a team of workers and a team that’s going to give you their all every game. That’s really difficult to play against. You can’t cheat, you have to be focused the whole game. They have really quality players, really smart players, really good players technically, and they’re organized. They’ve shown throughout the last few years that they’re one of the best teams in the league. We have to go in and be quite prepared and ready to play them because they are a very, very good team with experienced players and players who can really hurt you.

SFC: Brian Schmetzer was an assistant during your time here. What are your memories of him and what do you think of the job he’s done since he took over in 2016?

DY: I think he’s a great coach. He’s one of my favorites that I’ve had in my career. The job he’s done is incredible. Seattle is challenging for titles every year. That’s not an easy thing to do, to be that consistent. Clearly, he’s got an equation that’s working out well. He’s done a great job and hats off to him. I wouldn’t have doubted him when he got the head coach job. Probably some people did because he wasn’t a huge name in the soccer world, but he’s proved a lot of people wrong and done an incredible job with the club and organization.

SFC: Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan are two guys you’ve spent some time with on the U.S. national team. What’s your relationship like with them?

DY: It’s great. Every time we meet up in camp, we’re always talking about Seattle, where they’re living in Seattle and things like that. We’re all really good friends. Jordan being from Seattle, we have that connection. It’ll be nice to see them out on the field.

SFC: Is there anything you learned from your time with the Sounders that you’ve tried to bring to Miami?

DY: It’s difficult because it’s two different situations. When I was going into MLS with Seattle, I was just trying to absorb everything I could from players. It was quite a veteran team when I was there so I was just trying to learn everything I could. Now, I’m kind of in that leadership role. I learned so much from really everybody with the Sounders. It’s taking things I learned from guys like Obafemi Martins, Clint Dempsey, Chad Marshall, Stefan Frei and passing that information on to these younger guys because the information they gave me was priceless and can always help a younger player.

SFC: What do you make of the Academy and its progress as someone who helped pave the way for it?

DY: I definitely follow the younger players. It’s great to see them coming through and see the talent putting Seattle on the map. It’s really important that the club is investing in younger players. That’s the future. The fact that they’re getting playing time and making a name for themselves is really important not just for Seattle, but for America in general, to get younger players through.

SFC: Do you have any favorite food spots you’re looking to hit up when you’re back home?

DY: My grandma’s house. That’s going to be my favorite one, going there and seeing some family that I haven’t seen in a while.

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