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: GF/G TEAM, YEAR 31/1
Sounders, 2003 25/0
Seattle Sounders, 2014 1/0
Tottenham, 2014-15 15/0
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
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
, 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
“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
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."