Former USA striker and MLS legend Taylor Twellman has told ESPN FC that he believes DeAndre Yedlin’s season-long loan at Sunderland will give the Tottenham Hotspur right-back the perfect chance to improve his questionable defence.
Yedlin, 22, originally joined Tottenham from the Seattle Sounders in January after the two sides agreed a £2.5 million deal in August, but he has so far made just one 11-minute substitute appearance for Mauricio Pochettino’s side in last season’s 1-0 home defeat to Aston Villa.
With Kyle Walker and new boy Kieran Tripper keeping him out of the match-day squad for the first four games of this term, the US international was facing the prospect of little first-team football over the coming months until Sunderland came to the rescue before the transfer deadline.
After compatriot Jozy Altidore flopped so dramatically in the north east, plenty of keen observers from across the pond have since expressed scepticism over whether the move will prove a good one for the 23-times capped American, but Twellman on the other hand thinks it could work wonders for his development.
Still an incredibly raw prospect, the pacey prospect possesses tantalising physical gifts which he showcased at the 2014 World Cup but, at the same time, the defensive side of his game has often been criticised in the past.
His poor positioning was all too apparent at the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup and, at this point, it is clear that his lack of game time over the past eight months has been affecting his international form.
However, should he feature on a regular basis for the Black Cats then, with the club often needing to sit back and absorb pressure for long spells during games, Twellman believes that will give the emerging speedster exactly what he needs to help him become a more rounded player.
Speaking ahead of the USA’s friendly against Peru on Friday in Washington D.C., the former MLS MVP and now ESPN pundit said: “The one thing DeAndre Yedlin has to work is his defence. He doesn’t know how to. His head is never on a swivel.
“When everything’s in front of him he’s very good – he can blow by anyone.
“He’s athletically very gifted but [the problem is] the timings of his runs – the understanding that the runners behind him are the most important thing.
“He’s going to defend more often than not at Sunderland and, quite frankly, if he’s playing game in, game out there, that’s much better than anywhere else because of their game.
“Defensively, DeAndre Yedlin that needs that work and I think this move could be very important for him over the next year.”
While Yedlin is initially expected to compete with incumbent Billy Jones for Sunderland’s starting right-back job, manager Dick Advocaat could also choose to use the versatile defender in midfield, where he has most often featured for the US.
It remains to be seen whether he will be able to push himself into the starting line-up given his lack of Premier League experience but, with the chance to get regular top-flight minutes as oppose to settling for the occasional Under-21s run-out, there is no doubting that the two-time MLS All-Star has walked into a far more favourable situation than the one he was facing back at Spurs.