SAO PAULO, Brazil – As he stood on the sideline preparing to replace Alejandro Bedoya in the 72nd minute Sunday night, DeAndre Yedlin admitted to having butterflies in his stomach at Arena Amazonia.
After all, the Sounders’ right back was about to make his World Cup debut with the United States and Portugal knotted up at 1-all.
Whatever nerves Yedlin did have went away in a hurry as he acquitted himself well in his World Cup debut in what ended as a 2-2 draw.
“I definitely was nervous,” he said Sunday night. “I think there’s something wrong if you’re not. If you don’t have a little bit of butterflies in there. It’s all about getting comfortable on the field and seeing how you react.
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“I was just excited. This is the biggest stage. This is what every soccer player dreams of and those dreams were being made a reality, so it was pretty amazing. It’s one of those times that you just have to calm yourself because if you’re too excited, too hyped up, that’s when you don’t play as well.”
Yedlin played well enough to contribute to the scoring sequence to Sounders teammate Clint Dempsey’s goal, which boosted the Americans into a 2-1 lead in the 81st minute. He also displayed a strong defensive presence.
“I probably could have done a little bit more, but I got a good cross in that led to the second goal,” Yedlin said. “I’m just looking to help out wherever I can with this team. I thought I did OK.”
A draw or a victory against Germany in Recife on Thursday will move the Americans into the knockout round. The U.S. could advance with a loss, depending on the result of the Ghana-Portugal match, also Thursday.
“Yeah, definitively we are still optimistic,” Yedlin said. “It’s obviously a better result than having three points after two games, so I think we did pretty well except that little detail at the end. But I think we have a pretty good shot at going in the next round.”
Yedlin, a Seattle native, played Sunday on the right wing for the first time with the national team.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann spoke to Yedlin and told him that he “may throw me out there because we needed some speed on that wing, but I hadn’t practiced at all so it’s my first time,” said Yedlin, who received pointers from right back Fabian Johnson.
“He let me know where to be defensively,” Yedlin said. “That was the biggest thing for me.”
While it will be difficult for Yedlin to break into the starting lineup with Johnson performing well, Klinsmann likes what he has seen in the 20-year-old defender, the second-youngest player on the team.
“It’s fun to watch that kid,” he said.
When Yedlin helped create the second goal Sunday, he had noticed that Portugal left back Andre Almeida was “incredibly tired.”
“I didn’t have to really beat him, I just kind of got in his face with a touch inside,” he said.
Klinsmann said Yedlin has a great future.
“One thing is to have DeAndre in our group now for a reason,” Klinsmann said. “Not only because he’s one of our biggest talents, a youngster coming through the ranks, but because he has the qualities to make an impact in a game right now in this World Cup, which he did.
“We knew with DeAndre’s speed and with his defensive skills playing up in Seattle at right back, we have another weapon to push back the defense and create problems.”