OBETZ, Ohio – After a bit of an adjustment period, DeAndre Yedlin is enjoying his new life in England.
The 23-year-old Seattle native and former Seattle Sounders star joined Newcastle United of the English Championship this year after a stint in England’s top flight with Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland in the Premier League last season. And since his arrival, the US national team right back says he’s settling in nicely.
“It’s been great,” he said at United States training Wednesday in advance of the Yanks' World Cup Qualifying match Friday against Mexico (7:45 pm ET, FS1, Univision). “It’s obviously a bit of a different experience going to the Championship, but I’m in a team that’s very, very capable of going back up [to the Premier League], so that was a big part of my decision. I’m working with a great manager [Rafael Benitez] and great players, so it’s not like it’s easy for me to get into the lineup and play every game. So it’s a challenge for me, so that’s good as well. That’s what I need at this point in my career.”
Yedlin said he experienced a “very, very challenging” first six months when he was with Tottenham and living in London. But after joining Sunderland on loan last season, moving to Newcastle this season was relatively easy. Sunderland is a 30-minute drive from Newcastle.
“The first six months to a year was a bit tougher than I thought it was going to be,” he said. “But obviously I was at Sunderland last year and I lived in Newcastle, so I knew Newcastle from my time there, so living in Newcastle now it almost feels like a second home. So that’s been a pretty easy transition.”
Aside from a year away from Seattle while he went to Akron University, the England adventure is Yedlin’s first time away from home.
“A big thing for me is that I’m a big family guy,” he said. “I’ve always been around my family. I was in college for a year-and-a-half and then I went back home, so I was always around. To not have [my family] there was tough. And also if you want to call them, there’s a time difference, so you have to plan for that. … Other than that, it’s not a huge difference [besides] living on my own for the first time.”
Yedlin said “other than the competition,” he hasn’t experienced a huge difference between the Premier League and England’s second tier, where Newcastle are fighting for promotion back into the top division. He said the fans and environments he’s playing in are still just as intense.
“I think we’re pulling 50,000 [average attendance] at home and 6,000 away, so in terms of the support and things like that and the size of the club, it’s not any different,” he said.