Wednesday, December 3 rd, 2014
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DeAndre Yedlin, an American child prodigy for AS Roma?
The Giallorossi are very close to the 20-year-old right back. Yedlin was among the most promising talents to perform in the Brazilian World Cup. His origins are a mix between Europe, Africa and America
by Francesco Amorosino
Fabian Johnson, the United States’ starting right back, had been one of the United States’ best players in the World Cup before straining his hamstring and forcing Jurgen Klinsmann into a 32nd minute substitution in the round of 16 match against Belgium. The German coach was in an uncomfortable position; however he wasn’t short of options. He could have gone with the now Eintracht Frankfurt player Timothy Chandler, or simply slide Geoff Cameron back into his original position of right back and put Kyle Beckerman on in the middle, as he had been so reliable in the previous games.

However, Klinsmann decided to go with the then-20-year-old DeAndre Yedlin, from the Seattle Sounders. Yedlin had appeared in little over 24 minutes in the World Cup until that point, always starting on the bench. He hadn’t particularly shone in the group stages, although he didn’t disappoint either - all this mostly due to a lack of minutes. Coming on in such a crucial game for the US put a huge amount of pressure on him, but he responded like a veteran. He took his chance in the spotlight and despite the final result in Belgium’s favour, it has to be said that the match was a bright moment in his career.

Yedlin’s great performance didn’t go unnoticed around the world and AS Roma are on the verge of signing the young talent from Seattle. It seems the Italian club is destined to buy Yedlin to then loan him back to the Seattle Sounders for a year. Yedlin is set to take Maicon’s place at the right side of the defence for Roma once the Brazilian moves on.

Yedlin was born and raised in Seattle, although he only moved to the Seattle Sounders in 2010, at the age of 17. His early stint with the Sounders was cut short however, as he went to play football (or “soccer”) in college for the University of Akron. After 2 successful years with the Akron “Zips” he was signed by the Seattle Sounders, therefore becoming the first “home-grown” player for the Sounders (and thus the first player in the first team to have played on the youth team). Despite that, he spent a season with the U-23 team before being able to find space on the first team. For these past couple of seasons Yedlin has been impressing a great deal in the MLS, and this was first recognized by his call up for the All-Star team in the match against AS Roma, and then by Jurgen Klinsmann’s call up into the national team, where he received his first cap on February 1st, 2014 in a friendly against South Korea. Fast forward a few months and he became the first Seattle Sounder to play in the World Cup, at the tender age of 20.

Yedlin’s interesting journey to the spotlight is the fruit of his curious background. He is officially half-Latvian, one quarter African American, and one quarter Native American. He grew up with his grandparents, as his mother wasn’t in a position to raise a child, although they are still in contact. He claims that his grandparents were vital in his quest to become a professional footballer. In an interview released to the online website Yedlin said, “My grandparents have been big supporters in my life, without them paying for all the soccer growing up I don’t know if I would be where I am today”.

However, he claims that his uncle, who is only 10 years older than him and also went to the University of Akron, was the main reason why he wanted to pursue a footballing career. “My uncle has definitely been big in my life; he’s kind of been my father figure. He played soccer when he was younger and he’s definitely taught me a lot. He’s always asking me questions about how I’m doing and he’s always there to help me if I need help. He’s probably the biggest motivator to get me to where I am today.” Yedlin’s love for the game started while watching his uncle play, from the sidelines. 

All in all it has to be said that as much as Yedlin will gain from making a move to one of the biggest European clubs such as is Roma, the club from the Italian capital should be just as excited to have secured one of the top future prospects in world football. The American talent is an explosive and athletic right back, who is very comfortable getting up and down the pitch, despite his 5’ 8’’ (1.71m). A player with that athletic ability should theoretically be able to thrive in the Serie A. There is obviously space for improvement, especially in his 1 v 1 defending or his final ball up top, but Romanisti should be thrilled with Walter Sabatini’s swiftness in securing one of the brightest potential stars, thus reinforcing the idea that the Umbrian native is the best sporting director in Italy.

Friday, August 8 th, 2014
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