As part of his recurring series of interviews on MLSsoccer.com, senior writer Jeff Bradley spends 10 minutes with some of the biggest names in North American soccer to talk about how they’ve made their mark on the game through the years.
This week, Bradley talks to Seattle Sounders right back DeAndre Yedlin, currently training with the US national team. Yedlin, 20, became the Sounders starting right back last season and quickly made a name for himself with his aggressive, hard-running style of play.
BRADLEY: What was the experience like for you and the US team on the field in Brazil?
YEDLIN: The soccer was very good. We were not the most fit group at the beginning and it showed against players who are very good technically. I was really impressed with how good São Paolo was, not only with the ball, but their movement. They all really have a great idea how to play together in both the attack and when they’re defending. It was a lot different game than what a lot of us are used to, but I think it will help us to have seen it.
BRADLEY: Do you think this group has benefited from the experience?
YEDLIN: Definitely. Any time you can go where you’re going to play, and get a feel for it, I think it’s going to help. It’s nice background for the players who make the final squad.
BRADLEY: How did it feel to be, for the most part, an all-MLS team? How would you describe that part of the experience? Was it something the group acknowledged?
YEDLIN: Yeah, I think MLS is pretty underrated. I think there’s still a feeling when you go overseas that American soccer is not very good. So when we travel, we’re out to show the league is good and getting better, and so is American soccer overall. We felt we were representing both the US and MLS when we went to Brazil and we were looking to change some of the stereotypes. We know we can play some good soccer.
BRADLEY: On a personal level, do you feel like you’ve made a good impression?
YEDLIN: Yeah, I feel like I did. It was hard in the beginning, working up to game fitness. It was really preseason for most of us. I thought I was pretty fit going in, but playing a game is obviously a lot different than just running. I think once I settled in I got more comfortable.
BRADLEY: Are you trying to stake your claim to being the right back of the future?
YEDLIN: I hope so, but that’s not up to me, it’s up to Jurgen [Klinsmann]. All I’m trying to do is do my best. I’m trying to impress him and if it’s my time then it’s my time. If it’s not, I’ll keep working for the next opportunity that I get.
BRADLEY: How do you think your style fits with Klinsmann's plans?
YEDLIN: It seems like the way the team plays is build for outside backs to like to run and attack. So, hopefully I can show some of those skills.
BRADLEY: Looking ahead to Saturday’s game, do you have an inkling if you will play?
YEDLIN: No, nothing yet. Hopefully the first thing is to make the roster. If I can make the roster, I’d love to get some playing time. If it’s not, I’ll still try to take in the whole experience. No matter if I play or not, being a part of this US camp has been good for me.
BRADLEY: How long have you been thinking about getting that first cap?
YEDLIN: Since I was little. I’ve always wanted to play for the national team and to get my first cap, and to play in a World Cup. It’s been my goal since I was young. It’s getting closer, but it’s not there yet. So, I know there’s still a lot of hard work to do.
BRADLEY: How about the upcoming MLS season. What’s the attitude in Seattle?
YEDLIN: I think everybody will have a little chip on their shoulder. No one is happy with the way last season ended. It seems like in MLS teams all go through ups and downs, good and bad years. I think we have a good group and we can make a push to win the MLS Cup.
BRADLEY: Can you put a finger on what went wrong last year?
YEDLIN: Not really. It was just one of those things. Nothing seemed to go our way. You have those periods, and unfortunately, our rough stretch came at the wrong time. But it’s important for us to respond. Great teams respond to adversity.
BRADLEY: What’s it like to play at CenturyLink?
YEDLIN: Incredible. We are all excited for the season, to prove ourselves again to those fans. I know I’m ready to get back with the guys. I think it’s going to be a good year for us.
BRADLEY: Is there one matchup, one guy you’ve enjoyed trying to stop?
YEDLIN: Landon Donovan. It was kind of weird for me at first, playing against a guy I looked up to when I was young, but then I really got into the challenge. I love challenges.