TUKWILA, Wash. — DeAndre Yedlin didn’t celebrate his 21st birthday like most people would have on Wednesday.
Then again, most people aren't generating serious interest from some of the world’s top clubs by their 21st birthday.
Yedlin made his return to the Seattle Sounders in style on Wednesday, helping the team to a 3-1 extra-time victory over the Portland Timbers in the quarterfinals of the US Open Cup. The match marked his first game back with the Sounders since he vaulted onto the international soccer consciousness with a standout performance for the US national team at the 2014 World Cup.
Yedlin’s return comes amidst a seemingly endless circulation of rumors linking the young star to a potential overseas transfer. Since his strong play on soccer’s biggest stage, Yedlin has reportedly drawn interest from multiple European powerhouses, including Roma, Liverpool and Inter Milan, meaning a transfer could be in the not-so-distant future.
“[Playing in Europe] has obviously been my goal since I was a little kid, so that was a big one,” Yedlin said. “But now I think I almost have to make new goals and re-evaluate and see where I want to be in the next year, next six months. I’ll definitely be doing some of that in the next few weeks.”
The first matter at hand, however, is returning to the first-place Sounders and trying to carry his national-team form over to the club level.
“I’m excited to get back on the field with guys,” Yedlin told reporters during a training session earlier in the week. “They’ve been doing amazing while me and Clint [Dempsey] have been gone, so I’m just excited to hopefully help them out even more and contribute to the team in any way I can.”
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Yedlin was up to his usual tricks against the Timbers on Wednesday, making use of his customary blinding speed and dynamic athleticism to make several runs forward and pressure the Portland defense on multiple occasions.
"I thought he played well. I thought he was very sharp, especially in the first half,” Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said after the game. “He made some good runs forward. It's a difficult feel to get forward as an outside back, but I thought he did some really good things."
Yedlin played the first and second half but left the game in extra time due to some minor cramping issues.
“He had cramps a little a bit,” Schmid said. “That's why we took him out—to be careful and make sure there's no injury."