In this episode of Player Insights we take a detailed look at our eccentric American full back, DeAndre Yedlin. Known as much for his large personality as his pace down the right hand side of the pitch, we take a look at his footballing journey from past to present, before analysing his time at St James’ Park.
26 years ago DeAndre Yedlin was born into troubling circumstances in the state of Seattle. With his mother aged just 19 at the time, and his father not being involved in DeAndre’s life, he was raised mostly by his grandparents.
At the age of 11, Seattle Sounder youth director, Darren Sawatzky caught his first glimpses of the clearly talented player. He only had positive comments to make on the youngster, observing his raw pace and power, combined with a matured understanding of the game and ability to maintain possession.
As is the case for the majority of American sports players, Yedlin was tasked with balancing his desire to play football alongside full time education at college.
In 2011 as the American played college soccer for the University of Akron, his potential had already started to shine through. He started all but 3 of his teams games, before ending the season with 6 assists to his name.
The following year, Yedlin played for Seattle Sounders Under-23 side before earning promotion to the senior team in the in 2013.
It did not take long for the full back to make his impact in the top flight of American football. Although making his debut on the wrong side of a 1-0 scoreline against Montreal Impact, he was named in MLS Team of the Week for his individual performance, becoming the first rookie player to earn the accolade on their debut.
The defender developed into a reliable full back for the club, frequently being the attacking outlet for his team. His pace and power remained the main traits in his locker, allowing the speedster to begin attacking transitions when bursting out from the backline.
With continued recognition, Yedlin was officially ranked 3rd in the list of players under the age of 24 playing in the MLS League by MLS Soccer. The continued performances offered by the fullback earned him a call up to his national team, where his career reached new heights.
At the age of just 20, DeAndre Yedlin was now playing on the worlds biggest stage, the World Cup. In a national side not flooded with talented players, he was one of their standout players of the 2014 tournament.
Making his debut against a great Portuguese side, Yedlin came on as a second half substitute and changed the complexion of the game. Bursting with energy, the whole USA team lifted before Yedlin provided the assist to club teammate Clint Dempsey, edging his side ahead.
In the next fixture against the golden generation of Belgium, Yedlin also appeared as a substitute, but this time replacing injured teammate Fabian Johnson in just the 30th minute. Throughout the match, Yedlin managed to keep Eden Hazard quiet while also posing a threat on the attack.
In almost the flick of a switch, Yedlin had become the face of football in the USA. Unfortunately, for both Yedlin personally and as a country, Belgium overcame the dogged spirit of the American team in extra time, dumping Yedlin out of the competition.
His impressive performances however did not go unnoticed around the globe, with a host of clubs from Belgium, Italy, and England all circling for his signature.
In August 2014, DeAndre opted to join Tottenham Hotspur on a 4 year deal, but remained at Seattle until January.
He endured a tough time when arriving in London, being unable to dislodge either Kyle Walker or Danny Rose from either full back position. He only managed a single Premier League appearance for the club, during a 1-0 loss to Aston Villa.
Unlike his previous debut that resulted in a 1-0 defeat, the defender did not make such a positive impression. He would make no further appearances for the club before being loaned out to Sunderland for the 2015/16 season.
The American international acclimatised to the playing style of the Premier League well, and racked up 23 league appearances. While playing in a much more defensive system, he could not utilise his pace as effectively as he did in the MLS, however under the robust system of Sam Allardyce, we saw the defensive side of his game develop hugely.
After gaining vital experience at Sunderland, the defender was given the opportunity to play for the better team in the North East by Rafa Benitez.
Life at Newcastle
With an offer that most defenders in world football would struggle to decline, DeAndre Yedlin linked up with defensive tactician Benitez, and joined Newcastle United at the start of our Championship campaign for £5 million.
The American was a mainstay in our team throughout the following season. With his ability to never stop running, and the attacking abilities he displayed from full back, Yedlin appeared 27 times for us on our path to the Championship trophy.
It seemed Yedlin was not just an important player on the pitch for the Magpies, but was also a big character off the pitch. Often pictured in unique outfits with his well known canine companion Simba, the American also hosted the infamous “Yedlin’s tea party”. This type of event is crucial for team morale and clearly bought the team closer together.
One clear trait that Yedlin portrays when conducting his media duties is his humbleness. He comes across as a very down to earth man, a player that works hard and perhaps reflects the difficult start to life he endured. He has a tattoo on his calf which he claims reminds him to “Always Remember the Beginning”.
The American did not appear phased when representing Newcastle United back in the top flight. He notched his first Premier League goal against Manchester City in an eventual 2-1 defeat, and continued to make 74 appearances for us over 3 seasons.
In the current campaign Yedlin’s form has been disrupted by reoccurring injuries, allowing Javier Manquillo to hold down the starting position.
I wouldn’t stand out from our fanbase, if I voiced my opinion that Manquillo has now overtaken Yedlin in terms of the preferred option at right back. The Spaniard appears to have hit a real patch of form throughout the season, with a better capability of handling defensive situations, while his additional height has benefited our backline when dealing with aerial threats.
When Yedlin has started games, his performances have underwhelmed. This comes with a sense of understanding as players always return slightly rusty following a spell on the sidelines, however the performance against League One outfit, Oxford United, was particularly disappointing.
What the future may hold
Yedlin is no stranger to difficult spells, both throughout his personal and professional life, but I feel his current dip in form is arguably his most important. With the future of Newcastle United still relatively unknown, Yedlin needs to ensure his performances get back to where they were.
The current situation of no football, could perhaps have been a blessing in disguise for the American fullback. The mid-season “pre-season” has hopefully afforded Yedlin to fully recover and get back to playing his best football.
It will be interesting to see how he performs for the remainder of the Premier League season. With his contact due to expire in June 2021, this summer could be the last chance to sell Yedlin for a reasonable fee before his contract enters the last period and we risk losing him for free.
I personally feel at just 26 years old, he deserves a contract extension as I would like to see him remain in the North East, however if his performances continue to deteriorate and his injuries result in him losing an inch of his blistering pace, then we see could him departing St James’ Park in the near future.
It does appear to be an important chapter in his footballing career. What do you make of DeAndre Yedlin’s Newcastle United career, would you like to see him remain in the North East?
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