PORTLAND, Ore. During DeAndre Yedlin's rise to MLS stardom, one characteristic for which he’s continuously praised has been his ability to keep a level head.
That trait came in particularly handy in the Seattle Sounders’ epic 4-4 tie with the Portland Timbers on Saturday.
Coming off a solid performance midweek for the US national team, Yedlin bore the brunt of a Timbers attack that found a lot of joy on his side of the field as the Sounders found themselves in a 4-2 hole.
Despite the rough start, Yedlin still managed to play a significant role in Seattle’s comeback.
His day took a decided turn in the 65th minute. That’s when Norberto Paparatto rose up on a corner and sent a header that seemed destined to be a goal. But fate intervened.
“That was kinda luck,” Yedlin admitted. “I was kinda in the right place at the right time. I thought I hit it in. Luckily it hit off my face and I didn’t really see it. I just saw it go off the crossbar, go off my face and start rolling out.”
Although it was very close, replays seemed to support referee Hilario Grajeda’s decision not to rule it a goal. The Sounders took that turn in momentum and ran with it, eventually tying the game on an 87th-minute penalty by Clint Dempsey.
Yedlin was the one who drew the penalty, racing into the box and taken down by Ben Zemanski.
“I thought this was our last chance so I figured I’d sprint for the ball,” Yedlin said. “I’m glad he touched me because I was trying to draw the penalty either way.”
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While the result may have been acceptable, Yedlin was also keenly aware that allowing four goals opens plenty of room for criticism. Yedlin was especially cognizant of how he played when matched up with his former Akron teammate Darlington Nagbe.
“There was times when I was a little over-aggressive with him,” Yedlin said. “He’s a guy that you can’t do that with because he can slip you pretty easily. Sometimes I thought I did OK, sometimes I was in a 2v1 situation and there’s not a lot you can do about that. That’s just stuff we need to get fixed in practice.
"What I can work on on my own is defending players like that because those are the kind of players that at the national level are going to be there every game, maybe even better than that.”