Sounders FC 20-year-old rookie defender DeAndre Yedlin talked about his first MLS season, interacting with fans and, of course, his hair Wednesday in a live chat with readers.
Question: Do you really get your hair cut at Valentine’s in Greenwood?
DeAndre Yedlin: Yes. Been my barber since I was 3 years old.
Question: What do you like to do when you’re not playing soccer?
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Yedlin: I like to shop. It’s kind of dangerous. One thing that’s different is the amount of free time we have. It’s almost too much. You have to figure out your hobbies and what you want to do with your free time. Just going to the mall, shopping, hanging out with my girlfriend, playing FIFA, and hanging out with my friends from the team.
Question: How do fans react to you in public? Is it strange being recognized, and how do you feel about being approached during your time off?
Yedlin: For me, I like interacting with Sounders fans. Some guys with their time off they want their time off, but I don’t mind it. It’s strange, people calling me “Yedlin,” instead of DeAndre or a nickname. When I was younger if I was in someone else’s shoes, if you saw a professional athlete you’d want to go up and introduce yourself and ask a couple questions, so I definitely know where they’re coming from.
Question: Fill in the blank: Playing for Seattle is …
Yedlin: Amazing. Being able to experience this kind of crowd in American soccer is pretty incredible. This type of crowd anywhere in the world would be incredible. My first year in the league to have this type of support is pretty amazing.
Question: Is being a professional soccer player the same or different than you thought it would be? And, if different, what are the differences?
Yedlin: For me, coming in I didn’t think I would play as much as I am. It’s different in that sense. Then obviously I’m getting a lot more attention than I thought I would. It can be a bit overwhelming, but I don’t think it’s a bad problem to have.
Question: Who is the hardest person to defend in the league?
Yedlin: Luckily for me Steve Zakuani isn’t on another team. In practices he gives me a lot of trouble. Fabian Castillo from FC Dallas because of his speed, it cancels out my best asset as a player, so I have to be a more intelligent defender. It’s good to defend a player that’s as fast as me because I have to learn.
Question: How did you like O’Dea High School?
Yedlin: At the time I was like any high-schooler. “This sucks, I want to go to college.” When I look back it was the best school for me. It kept me disciplined, and their whole motto is they want to turn boys into gentlemen and I think it’s done that for me.
Question: What’s the best soccer movie you’ve ever seen?
Yedlin: There was a documentary on Netflix, “Kicking It,” about the Homeless World Cup. That’s probably the best about the talent that hasn’t been seen. They don’t have a home, and it’s pretty inspiring.