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What to watch for when DeAndre Yedlin plays for the United States

The Sounders FC right back ranges forward in ways that are sometimes controversial. Here's a guide to better understand his game and how it translates to the World Cup.

Seattle's right back is a frequent sub for Jurgen Klinsmann. What should he be doing?
Seattle's right back is a frequent sub for Jurgen Klinsmann. What should he be doing?
Christian Petersen

It was something of a surprise when DeAndre Yedlin's name wound up on the roster for the World Cup. United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann had very little experience with the speedy right back. But he's on his way now. His role with the USA is different. He's only a bench player at this point, one that is injected to add speed and passing to the attack. There are some things we can learn from his play with Seattle Sounders FC.

Yedlin gets forward a lot. When is this likely to be successful?

This is probably the thing that causes the most consternation among American soccer fans. There is a running narrative that since many teams' attacks come against Seattle's right side that Yedlin must be to blame. The feeling is that he gets forward too much. You're just wrong, especially when it comes to his time with the national team.

"I learned a lot about positioning- even from a guy like Brad [Davis], who doesn't normally play right back but he's just one of those guys who naturally knows about every position-and the difference in formation between the national team and the Sounders, as they like their outside backs to go and attack a bit more than we do at Seattle."

So he's going to be forward more often than you expect, even for Sounders fans. Keep an eye on right center back, the right mid and the two central mids. Where those men are will tell you if Yedlin's explosive runs are the ones the team expects from him. If more than one of those cheat a bit to that side, then he's doing what's expected, as the cover is there to allow DeAndre to threaten the defenses of Ghana, Portugal and Germany.

His passing tree is still developing; which passes will prove most difficult for Group G to stop?

At just 20 he's not a finished product. There are passes that he can see, but not hit effectively, yet. But there are things he is doing well. His crossing has improved in his mere 1.3 pro years. It's now generally effective. He can work 1-2s and ladder the ball up the sideline and not turn the ball over, but what he does that is kind of special is kind of like this:

No really. He can drive centrally and ping the ball off a central player while sprinting into an attacking area. At times this has looked like what Yedlin does best.


He has yet to score off of the sequence, but it is in his repertoire. You should expect to see that happen while he's down in Brazil, but when he does it in Brazil it will be against exhausted centerbacks. With the passing of Bradley and Dempsey there to play off of, these kinds of plays should be expected.

How's his defense?

Everything that DeAndre does is based on this world-class speed. That translates differently when he's defending the man with the ball. It means that when well away from goal he tries to poke the ball out knowing that if he does get beat with a dribble he has a good chance to catch the player. He can not do this within 30 yards of goal during the World Cup. The release speed for passes at the level are just took quick and the crossing too potent.

Off the ball he's an interceptor. He can give false space and read the play. In a split second he closes on the space and the ball is his. When this doesn't work, he is turned. When it does work, he's off sprinting down the touchline granting the USA a numerical advantage.

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