ST. LOUIS – DeAndre Yedlin plies his trade far away from his home town these days – 4,500 miles or so, in fact, at Sunderland AFC in the English Premier League. But even half a world and many time zones away, he still keeps a keen eye on his former club, the Seattle Sounders, and got to watch the nailbiting and ultimately heartbreaking conclusion to their 2015 season in last week's Western Conference Semifinals.
“It was crazy,” Yedlin said of the tense penalty-kick shootout that sent FC Dallas to the Conference Championship and Seattle home. “I was actually here [in the United States], I'd just landed in Miami and was able to watch it. It was madness.”
Speaking to reporters ahead of the US national team's World Cup qualifier vs. St. Vincent & the Grenadines at Busch Stadium on Friday (7 pm ET, ESPN2), Yedlin explained that does his best to watch every Sounders match he can from across the pond, even with the difficulties posed by eight-hour time difference. He's hoping the Rave Green don't rush to press the reset button quite yet after another unsuccessful MLS Cup pursuit.
“They had that little bit of a bad stretch in the summer there, that definitely hurt them. But at the end they picked it up and started rolling,” he said. “But it's just tough – Dallas is a great team they played. They had the lead on them going into the second game, but it's a very tough place to play in Dallas, I've seen that firsthand.”
Yedlin praised under-fire Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid, the man who helped jump-start his own meteoric rise from youth academy product to Premier League starter.
“We'll see. There's obviously always changes in the offseason but I don't know what's on the chairman's mind or Sigi's mind or whoever it may be,” said Yedlin, who is likely to play a major role for the USMNT – though it's unclear whether in midfield or defense – as their hunt for Russia 2018 kicks off with this month's two qualifiers against Caribbean underdogs.
“I had a good experience with Sigi. I don't know how it is now, but me personally, I had a great experience with Sigi. I think he's a great coach. He obviously gave me a chance.”
Yedlin's stint at Sunderland has started brightly as he's earned regular minutes at right back for the Black Cats while on a season-long loan from Tottenham. But with his side mired in the relegation zone, he's understandably more focused on helping Sunderland dodge the drop.
“Personally, I feel that I'm doing well, but now the goal is to try to help the team start getting results,” he said. “That's the most important thing, try to help the team stay up. That's going to be the focus for the rest of the year.”