DeAndre Yedlin isn’t your typical star athlete. In fact, if it wasn’t for his piercing and skillful runs up the sideline for the Seattle Sounders of MLS, Yedlin’s presence on the field might not get noticed at all.
One club that did notice was Tottenham Hotspur.
It should therefore come as no surprise that coach Mauricio Pochettino’s team signed the speedy 21-year-old with another Premier League campaign just days away. The only surprise is that Yedlin remained available this long.
European clubs had been sniffing around Yedlin for several weeks, leading to speculation that his days in Seattle were numbered. Originally, it was thought that AS Roma would scoop him up as the Serie A schedule gets underway at the end of August. When those rumors fell through, Liverpool and Napoli entered the fray.
Ultimately, Spurs were the choice for a player whose meteoric rise from obscurity to household name took all of three months. One couldn’t blame Yedlin if it all seems a bit overwhelming.
A largely overlooked member of coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s final United States roster at this summer’s World Cup, Yedlin spent most of the tournament relegated to bench duty. For most observers, his inclusion on the roster was itself a surprise. After all, some soccer writers had estimated his chances of earning a spot on the team at less than 10 percent.
Yedlin’s response was to become a valuable asset as the Americans successfully navigated through a brutal Group G before bowing out against Belgium in the Round of 16.
In the USA’s second fixture against Portugal, he entered the game late and still managed to assist Clint Dempsey on the Americans’ second goal. From there, Yedlin turned on his combination of breathtaking speed and solid soccer IQ to consistently frustrate some of the world’s best players against both Portugal and eventual champions Germany.
Fast forward a few weeks and Yedlin again showcased his skills in the MLS All-Star Game against Bayern Munich. Facing off with more seasoned competition, Yedlin made a significant impact, delivering high level crosses while further utilizing his speed as the All-Stars defeated Bayern 2-1 in Portland.
Now Yedlin will get the chance to test his skills against some of Europe’s biggest clubs. The main question is whether the youngster is ready for it all.
Finishing out the MLS season with Seattle will certainly help, especially with Dempsey still on the end of his right-side crosses for a couple of months. Even then, Dempsey’s greatest contribution will likely be in counseling the budding star on adjusting to life in the new country with entirely new teammates.
In the end, Yedlin’s greatest strength might be his approach. Known as a hard-worker who puts team first, Yedlin forged a close relationship with his teammates in both Seattle and with the national team. It wouldn’t be surprising if Yedlin formed a similar bond with Spurs players once the move is completed in November.
Of course, there are no guarantees Yedlin will enjoy similar success in the Premier League. More than a few American players have washed out under the considerable pressure and competition of European leagues.
Regardless of whether he ultimately sinks or swims, you can bet Yedlin is looking forward to the challenge. If these past few months have proven anything, it’s that he deserves the benefit of the doubt.