After his breakout performance at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Sounders FC defender DeAndre Yedlin was bound to catch the attention of clubs abroad. His stock quickly rocketed up as he played 112 minutes in a substitute role for Jurgen Klinsmann’s U.S. National Team on a run to the Round of 16.
On Wednesday, Sounders FC announced that the club’s first ever Homegrown signing has been sold to Tottenham Hotspur in England’s Premier League. However, the 21-year-old Seattle native will remain in Rave Green for the remainder of the 2014 season before joining Spurs in either January or June of 2015.
“I’m very excited to get into the Premier League and challenge myself against some of the best players in the world,” Yedlin said on an interview with SpursTV. “It’s a great team. I know with the new coach coming in, it’s a style that fits with the way I play. That’s a big reason I made this decision. I’m just excited to come in and learn under him and under the great players on this team.”
Yedlin had a standout rookie season for Seattle, starting in a team-high 30 matches while earning an MLS All-Star selection from MLS Commissioner Don Garber and finishing as a finalist in Rookie of the Year voting. During that season, he also started for the U.S. U-20 National Team at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.
He took another step in 2014, earning an invite to January camp with the U.S. National Team and earning his first senior cap in February in a 2-0 win over South Korea at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. While playing under a stronger microscope in his second season with Sounders FC, he saw more critical assessments of his play, but made improvements and earned a call-in to World Cup camp under Klinsmann and stood out enough to board the plane to Brazil.
Klinsmann has offered Yedlin his support in joining his own former club, where the U.S. Head Coach scored 29 goals in 56 league appearances over two seasons.
“I’ve talked to Jurgen a lot about this move and he definitely supports it, which was a big reason for my decision. I want his support. I know he has a lot of trust in me and I have a lot of trust in him, so I was happy to hear that he supported this decision,” Yedlin said on SpursTV. “He’s done a great job with the U.S. team and with me personally, giving me the confidence to perform at a high level.”
All the while, he maintained his All-Star level with Sounders FC, starting 14 matches and earning a second MLS All-Star nod.
While the move provides Yedlin with the opportunity to play in the Premier League as soon as January, it also allows Sounders FC the chance to remain firm in its goals of winning championships in 2014 and beyond.
“Our goal is always to position ourselves to challenge for and win championships. But our league is a delicate balance that includes a salary cap that sometimes is challenging to navigate,” said Sounders FC Owner and General Manager Adrian Hanauer in a conference call with reporters. “This transaction provides, first, a great opportunity for us to win a championship in 2014 with DeAndre remaining with the team. Second, it provides us with allocation money that is paramount to maintaining a competitive squad going forward. It also provides us with some cash to reinvest in any aspect of our soccer business that we want.”
Among the aspects that Seattle can invest that money are the youth development system that helped nurture Yedlin along the way, Designated Player signings, soccer facilities or infrastructure that will help the club’s strength moving forward.
Yedlin was the first player signed out of Sounders FC’s Academy system when he left Akron after two seasons to join the professional ranks in 2013. He played in the inaugural class for the Sounders FC Academy in the 2010-2011 season, then two collegiate seasons at Akron before turning pro.
An O’Dea High School product, Yedlin has 45 MLS appearances and seven caps for the U.S. National Team, including three appearances in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He also has one goal and one assist in two MLS Cup playoff matches.
He is the fourth American to sign with Tottenham Hotspur, joining Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel and Clint Dempsey.