TUKWILA – DeAndre Yedlin couldn’t possibly have crammed more into the past 13 months.
The Seattle native signed as Sounders FC’s first homegrown player on Jan. 11, 2013, and a wild ride of achievements and milestones soon followed. First off, the dynamic right back, then 19 years old, earned a starting role and scored a crucial goal in just his third game.
Later in the year, Yedlin would play for the U.S. in the FIFA U-20 World Cup, represent Seattle in the MLS All-Star Game and be a finalist for Rookie of the Year.
The astounding run continued two weeks ago when Yedlin made his international debut with the U.S. senior team, coming in as a second-half substitute in a 2-0 victory against South Korea.
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“It was pretty amazing,” he said as the Sounders returned to practice this week. “It’s something that I’ve always dreamed of — playing with the national team — so to finally get that experience, now it’s just pushing for more caps and hopefully a World Cup.”
While the push to make the World Cup team this summer might have come a little late for Yedlin, a strong sophomore performance for the Sounders will drive his case. And the focus in 2014, said Sounders coach Sigi Schmid, will be consistency.
Yedlin’s proverbial ceiling seems boundless, and it’s not hard to spot when he’s flying up the right flank in attack or tracking back with his incredible recovery speed. The occasional poor showing was noticeable, as well, whether it was in defensive responsibilities or struggling to provide an accurate cross.
“As you become more experienced,” Schmid said, “there are givens. Players go out there and this is what he’s going to give you; the valleys are not very deep at all. … Once in a while (their performances are) higher, but you know their bottom level remains the same.”
One of Yedlin’s most impressive showings came in one of the team’s biggest disappointments — a season-ending playoff defeat in Portland — when he had both a goal and assist. Momentum carried into the offseason thanks to a call-up to the U.S. senior team’s January training camp, and coach Jurgen Klinsmann said he has been pleased with the development of young Americans like Yedlin and Real Salt Lake’s Luis Gil.
“This is just the beginning of a very good career, and we need them to push the envelope with their MLS teams,” Klinsmann told the federation website.
“It’s up to them now how well and how fast they develop over the next couple of years.”
So how does Yedlin feel about this increased expectation?
“I enjoy that,” he said. “I enjoy a challenge, so I’m excited for what’s to come this season.”
• Osvaldo Alonso, the Sounders’ four-time team MVP, was rewarded with a new deal over the offseason that made him a designated player. “I’m very happy for the team giving me the new contract, the DP contract, but I have to play the same,” he said. “I try to play my best every time I step on the field and give the best for my team. That’s the most important thing for me.”
• Defender Jimmy Ockford, the team’s second-round draft choice, was scheduled to undergo an MRI Thursday on his knee.
• Reign FC has signed goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer to a one-year deal with a team option for 2015.
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