Early in the season DeAndre Yedlin exploded forward into the attack. His crossing was there, but there was space behind him. It was something that teams tried to exploit. Communication along the backline and with the central midfielders needed to be great. Sometimes it was; sometimes it wasn't; sometimes Yedlin sprinted a thousand yards and still stopped the attack against Frei's pipes.
With the United States National Team he drifts between dual roles. There are times when he's that right wingback in a four-back set. Recently he played as a right midfielder. And that's led to some questions, because over the last couple months he has been given much more freedom to roam forward with the Americans than with the Sounders.
That's by design according to top Sounders assistant coach Brian Schmetzer, "DeAndre is gonna go, that's just a given. We're trying to make sure that when he's going it's less often, but with more quality. That's part of getting good width in the attack, making sure that those moments are quality, not just quantity, or his starting position - sometimes we like him to come from deeper."
Sunday's 2-2 draw against the LA Galaxy was a perfect example of what Schmetz says the club wants to see. Early in the game Yedlin sat back and managed Landon Donovan. Then as the opposing defense tired, Yedlin raced forward. That created more width and paid off in one of the goals in the comeback. His performance was one of the keys to the victory-like tie.
It's the current ideal for the youngster. His on-man defense is greatly improved, he is technically proficient and his passing continues to improve. Those things are often overlooked because of his superhero speed. When that speed comes as a surprise it changes games.
It's a decent plan. A first half that shuts down America's greatest outfield player that chose MLS. A second half that creates goals. A second game like that goes a long way to winning a Shield.