TUKWILA, Wash. – Ahead of their massive Cascadia Cup derby matchup with the Portland Timbers at CenturyLink Field on Saturday (2:30 pm ET | FOX, FOX Deportes, TSN2 in Canada) the Seattle Sounders have welcomed a familiar face to the training ground.
Former Sounders Homegrown star and current Newcastle United defender DeAndre Yedlin resurfaced at his old stomping grounds of Starfire Sports Complex this week, practicing with the club while he enjoys the English Premier League offseason. Yedlin made 56 appearances for Seattle from 2013-14 and was a regular starter on the 2014 squad that won the US Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield double.
“It’s great,” Yedlin said of his homecoming after Wednesday’s training session. “It’s nice to see old faces and some new ones as well. The team has changed a little bit since I was here, so it was nice to meet those guys as well. Being back out here, it brings back really good memories.”
Yedlin said he wasn’t able to watch live when the Sounders claimed their first-ever MLS Cup title last season due to the time difference, but added that he was thrilled when he did see the result.
“It was unbelievable,” he said. “Obviously I wish I could have been a part of it. But I’m from here, so anytime a Seattle team wins something, especially as big as [the MLS Cup], it’s a great feeling.”
Yedlin also seems to be coming into his own as a player with Newcastle, emerging as a key contributor that helped the club to the top of the table in the English Championship this past season to earn a promotion back to the Premier League. One reason for his recent success, he said, is an increased comfort level with his surroundings compared to his time spent with Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland.
“Newcastle isn’t too much different from Seattle, actually,” Yedlin said. “I think that’s why I’ve settled in so well there. It’s calmer than London. It’s a great city. There are good restaurants, very friendly people. I’m really enjoying my time there. Obviously the fans are great as well, every game is a great atmosphere.
“I’m very happy and I’m fortunate to be there.”
Yedlin also dished on some of his favorite memories from his time as a part of the Sounders-Timbers rivalry, specifically citing Seattle’s miraculous 4-4 draw against the Timbers at Providence Park in 2014 in which he drew the penalty kick to set up teammate Clint Dempsey with a dramatic late equalizer.
The 23-year-old said he’ll be taking in Saturday’s match as a spectator at CenturyLink, adding that he’ll always feel as though he has a home at Starfire even as he looks to further entrench himself as an EPL mainstay in Newcastle.
“When I first came back, [Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer] said, ‘You’re welcome back [at training] whenever you want,’” Yedlin said. “I know I’ll always have a home here. This was my first club and my hometown club so Seattle will always have a special place in my heart.”