Tottenham loanee DeAndre Yedlin opens up on his start to life at Sunderland

The 22-year-old US international has made two starts for the Black Cats since his deadline day arrival.

Sunderland’s Tottenham Hotspur loanee DeAndre Yedlin has praised Black Cats fans for their unwavering support after making his first two appearances at the Stadium of Light.

The 22-year-old right-back has started both last month’s 4-1 League Cup defeat to Manchester City and the weekend’s 2-2 draw with West Ham United since joining the club on a season-long deal just before the transfer deadline, and he has been more than impressed with the backing the team has received amid their current struggles.

Speaking to ESPN Soccer Today, the US international said: "It’s been great. The fans have been absolutely unbelievable. Even before walking out the tunnel [against West Ham], I just kind of closed my eyes and took in the noise and energy going around the stadium – it was an unbelievable feeling.

“The fans were behind us the whole game and have been at every game I’ve been to. We’re looking forward to performing well for them and they deserve good results.

“Jozy [Altidore, his USA teammate] didn’t have the best time at Sunderland but what he did say was that the fans here are unbelievable and, from what I’ve seen so far, they’ve been great.”

Yedlin originally joined Tottenham from the Seattle Sounders in January after the two clubs agreed a £2.5 million deal in August 2014, having caught the attention of the wider footballing world with a handful of impressive cameos at the World Cup in Brazil.

However, the 25-times capped American has since made just one 11-minute substitute appearance for Mauricio Pochettino’s side and admits that the pace of the Premier League has taken some getting used to.

“The Premier League is fast compared to any league in the world so that’s definitely been a big adjustment for me,” he said. “It’s a league where you can’t have any mental lapses – you have to stay focused for 90 minutes.”

 Vs West Ham Total TacklesTotal ClearancesDuels WonDuel SuccessInterceptionTotal PassesPassing AccuracyTouchesBall RecoveriesDispossessedMins Played
DeAndre Yedlin 2 3 3 42.86% 1 21 81% 43 4 0 90

Nevertheless, while he was one of several at fault for West Ham’s first goal, Yedlin’s overall defensive performance on the weekend earned him some solid reviews, despite being far better known for his attacking skills.

In fact, the two-time MLS All-Star’s defence has been criticised ever since he first burst onto the scene with hometown club Seattle in 2013, leading to suggestions that it might be wiser for him to make a full-time move to midfield, where he often lines up for the USA.

His first Premier League start for Sunderland at right-back showed that he could still have a bright future at that position, though, although the versatile speedster admits that first-team minutes are crucial to helping him realise his full potential.

“You ask any player, a big part of them playing well is confidence, and I’m gaining a lot of that here,” he added. “I’m already getting on the field a lot more than I was at Tottenham.

“With the West Ham result, it wasn’t three points but it was a step in the right direction. I made a few mistakes in the game but, overall, I thought it was a pretty good showing.

“Every player just wants to play and I wanted that, so I was very happy with the move here. It obviously gave me a better chance to play but I have to keep working hard, pushing, improving and showing well to get more time.”

In the meantime, the defender-come-winger’s main focus is on the US national team’s crucial CONCACAF Cup play-off against bitter rivals Mexico at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, when the winner will secure a place at the 2017 Confederations Cup.

After a disappointing fourth-place finish at the summer’s Gold Cup – their worst performance at the tournament since 2000, Jurgen Klinsmann’s side go into the game as underdogs and will need the likes of Yedlin to be on top form on the afternoon in order to get the better of the North American champions.

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