DeAndre Yedlin concluded the Premier League season on a major high. His consistent play after winning the Sunderland’s starting right back spot back in February was a contributing factor to the club beating relegation once again.
He came into the Copa America Centenario with the USMNT right back job on lockdown. Yedlin started in five of the team’s six matches. Here’s a look at his numbers:
Games Played: 5
Clean Sheets: 2
Red Cards: 1
Yellow Cards: 1
Minutes Played: 408
It’s been a long time since the United States men’s national team had a consistent back four. Klinsmann finally stuck with one during the Copa America and Yedlin played a big part of it. This tournament wasn’t exactly his showcase event, but he held his own defensively against some world-class players. His defensive awareness has improved tremendously. The amount of times he was caught out of position and had to rely on his pace to recover was drastically reduced from his previous showings with the national team.
There are still growing pains with Yedlin, but he’s showing real promise as a full-time right back who is still adjusting to being a defense-first player instead of one that bombs forward without abandon.
Okay, after all the nice things that were just said it’s time to get mean. There were several negatives to focus on for Yedlin during the Copa, but it’s important to preface it by stating that he’s still learning. This was his first chance in a major tournament to be ‘the guy’ at right back. In the first match against Colombia he was whistled for a handball. Some will argue that it was a poor moment and some will call it unlucky. Obviously you’re taught to keep your hands behind your back in a crossing situation, but it’s hard to blame him in this situation. It’s just rotten luck in my biased opinion. Other than the handball, he held up really well in both matches he played against the No. 3 team in the world.
The next and far more egregious error was against Paraguay in the final group match. Needing just a draw to advance to the quarters, the U.S. had a 1-0 lead at halftime. Five minutes into the second half they were down a man after Yedlin was sent off for back-to-back bookable tackles in the span of a minute. It was immature and reckless and he paid for it dearly by missing the next round. There’s no defending this. It was just a silly decision by a young player. We can only hope he learns from the mistake and never does it again.
Copa Grade - B-
The two glaring mistakes aside it was a solid tournament for Yedlin. It could’ve been a lot better, but he showed his promise and why he’s got a great chance to secure the right back spot for a long time. His defense is steadily improving and his overlapping is still a threat on the flanks.
Yedlin returns to Spurs in the preseason with rumors abound about his next move. Sunderland are reportedly interested in bringing him back permanently, while other Premier League clubs have been sniffing around. It’s vital that he finds another situation that offers him the chance at winning steady playing time. If he can do that he shouldn’t have any competition for the USMNT right back job in the near future.