DeAndre Yedlin may not have seen much playing time in England since his January move to Tottenham Hotspur but USA and former Seattle Sounders teammate Brad Evans has still noticed a great deal of improvement in the on-loan Sunderland right-back over the past nine months.
Evans, who played with his compatriot for two seasons in Seattle, was speaking to MLSsoccer.com following Saturday night’s 3-2 CONCACAF Cup defeat to Mexico at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, in which Yedlin was introduced as a 78th-minute substitute.
Replacing Gyasi Zardes in midfielder with the score at 1-1, the versatile 22-year-old struggled to get into the game to begin with as Oribe Peralta went on to restore Mexico’s lead in the sixth-minute of extra-time after Geoff Cameron’s 15th-minute header had cancelled out Javier Hernandez’s opener.
However, he eventually made his impact felt 12 minutes later, setting up fellow substitute Bobby Wood’s finish with a fine through ball which left his former club captain more than impressed.
“[It was] a very good play by DeAndre – heads up," said Evans, who helped Seattle win both the US Open Cup and Supporters Shield title alongside Yedlin in 2014 before the two-time MLS All-Star departed for Spurs. "That’s something the past year that he’s really developed, a patience in the attacking half and moving up to right mid he’s got to have that now.
“For him to play a cheeky little ball in behind, it’s a great finish from Bobby. It says a lot about the hard work those two have put in.”
Yedlin’s assist seemed to give him a boost of confidence for the rest of the extra-time, as he proceeded to give the Mexico defence serious problems with his renowned pace down the flank until Paul Aguilar’s 118th-minute strike dealt the States a soul-crushing blow.
The loss means Jurgen Klinsmann’s side miss out on a place at the 2017 Confederations Cup to their bitter rivals but, despite his disappointment, the head coach still found time after the game to praise both Yedlin and Wood for their contributions off the bench.
“You don’t want to consider them from the beginning on because to start a game like this, like tonight is a lot of weight on the shoulders of players,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “But when you look at your younger players, you kind of consider it’s maybe better to bring them off the bench so they don’t overthink that situation, and that paid off with both.”
The US now have a friendly against Costa Rica in New Jersey on Tuesday night before Yedlin will return to Sunderland to continue his season-long loan spell at the North East outfit.
The 26-times capped speedster made just one brief cameo for Spurs during his first nine months at the club but he has already earned two starts for the Black Cats since his deadline day switch, including a full Premier League debut in the recent 2-2 home draw with West Ham United.
He put in an impressive defensive display on the afternoon but, with Sam Allardyce since replacing Dick Advocaat as manager, it remains to be seen whether his performance was enough to keep him in the line-up for the weekend’s trip to West Bromwich Albion.