U.S. Debate: The DeAndre Yedlin dilemma

Few U.S. players generate as much debate among fans and the media as 22-year-old DeAndre Yedlin. He burst on the scene in 2013, winning the starting job at right back for the Seattle Sounders, and within a year was a surprise pick for the World Cup.

DeAndre Yedlin:
31/1 Seattle Sounders, 2003
25/0 Seattle Sounders, 2014
1/0 Tottenham, 2014-15
15/0 Sunderland, 2015-16

Yedlin has mostly played in midfield for the USA but he is now playing on loan at Sunderland from Tottenham and starting regularly at right back for the relegation-threatened Black Cats. Yedlin's defensive deficiencies -- lack of physicality and tactical awareness -- have always been the concern, and they were on display on Saturday as Sunderland had to settle for a 1-1 tie with archrival Newcastle United that left both clubs in the Premier League relegation zone.

On Newcastle's tying goal in the 83rd minute, Yedlin turned the ball over on a foul throw in midfield, and he was later overpowered off the ball by Aleksandar Mitrovic, who put Georginio Wijnaldum's cross past Sunderland keeper Vito Mannone.

Yedlin is eligible to play for the U.S. U-23s, who will meet Colombia in a playoff series for the final berth in the Rio Olympics, but Jurgen Klinsmann has called him in to play for the senior national team against Guatemala in World Cup 2018 qualifying series that begins on Friday. Klinsmann says the key is that Yedlin is playing in a top-flight league.

“Right now, he’s playing right back with Sunderland," Klinsmann said a Facebook Q&A with fans, "and the most important thing really is just that he’s playing. It’s really important that he’s playing week in, week out, and we’re really happy that he’s doing a good job there."

For Klinsmann, the most important thing is that Yedlin gives him options at several positions -- like Fabian Johnson does -- but prefers him in midfield on the right wing.
“I think as a right back," Klinsmann said, "there’s still a big learning curve for him, and that’s what he’s going through right now in the Premier League – he’s learning there every game. For us as a right winger, he’s very helpful because of his speed, simple as that, because he can surprise defenders and go at people, and that’s what you want to see. You want to see some elements in the game that make a difference, and he can make a difference in the way he plays there, so it’s good to know we have both options.”

Yedlin started at right back against St. Vincent & the Grenadines in the USA's World Cup 2018 qualifying opener and then played in midfield at Trinidad & Tobago. Klinsmann has plenty of options on the right side of midfield but right back remains a problem position, like left back.

After Friday's game in Guatemala City, Klinsmann will have to decide whether to keep Yedlin and John Brooks with the senior team or have them join the U-23s, who will face Colombia on their second game the same day as the national team hosts Guatemala in Columbus. That decision, Klinsmann said, will come after the results of the first legs are known and he consults with his coaching staff.

"Anything is possible," he said, "to be honest."
5 comments about "U.S. Debate: The DeAndre Yedlin dilemma".
  1. Gary Levitt, March 22, 2016 at 8:35 a.m.

    Why is the article refer to Yedlin as a dilemma? Klinsmann is THE MNT manager and he has made the decision to keep Yedlin with the senior side in Guatemala City. It is not a dilemma. As Klinsmann states he is there because he plays/gets minutes with an EPL team and though a bit raw brings position flexibility and a turn of speed. Though JK can seem like a bit of a megalomaniac you would think that he and Herzog have thoroughly vetted the player pools...at least for the first set of games.....

  2. R2 Dad, March 22, 2016 at 10:40 a.m.

    England struggles with this same issue--playing younger players with the full national team instead of with their youth teams. Big picture, you want these younger guys learning how to win and contribute BEFORE they go up. Yedlin has skills but hasn't won anything. He needs to learn to win; know what that feels like, demand it in others, at the youth level. Right now he's a body filling a spot with the USMNT.

  3. Greg Milton, March 22, 2016 at 11:43 a.m.

    Yedlin's skills are so so. Not sure about his strength being criticized though. He is certainly stronger than David Villa Iniesta Xavi and any number of other world class players. Have you ever seen the Ivory Coast everyone of those duds has a 6 pack. Still that does not guarantee wins. Yedlin plays kick ball mostly. Many teams will put someone like that on defense. Yedlin is playing on a relegation team so he is hardly to blame for their woes, They had woes before he arrived. It would be nice is you are going to write an article to have a foundation of facts. I think the articles point is that you are not sold on Yedlin. I laugh at that idea. As if Omar G, Bocanegro, the All American blow hard Alexi Lalas were as good as Yedlin. Cameron plays in EPL. On the Intnl level - he gets beat all of the time and so does the entire US backline when they play a good team. Beating Haiti and Bermuda hardly counts. Schedule a friendly against Colombia or Chile and then tell me what you think? The majority of the USMNT are "body fillers"...lol the talent pool is not that talented and that is the problem

  4. George LeBeau, March 22, 2016 at 12:57 p.m.

    Did the author even watch the match? On the cross Yedlin was in the correct position. He is 5'8 and Mitrovic is 6'2. Please tell me what Yedlin should have done defensively to stop Mitrovic.

  5. Greg Giese, March 22, 2016 at 2:39 p.m.

    Well put!

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