- DeAndre Yedlin is back in U.S. MNT camp for the first time since November
- After playing for Sunderland, Yedlin secured a move to rivals Newcastle United this past season
- The MNT right back made 27 appearances to help the club gain promotion to the English Premier League
In life and soccer, sometimes taking a step back can be helpful.
Such is the case for U.S. Men’s National Team defender DeAndre Yedlin, who after helping Sunderland avoid Premier League relegation during a loan spell last season, chose to play one level down in the English League Championship when he secured a permanent move to Sunderland’s bitter rival Newcastle United.
“Obviously having played for Sunderland, at the beginning I was a bit shaky on whether to go or not,” Yedlin told ussoccer.com. “At the end of the day, it’s my career. I have to do what’s best for me, and I thought that would be the best option to help move thing along.
Playing in England’s second tier may not have been glamorous in the short term, but Yedlin was excited about the prospect of playing for a historically big club like Newcastle and under the direction of UEFA Champions League-winning manager Rafa Benitez.
Yedlin joined a deep squad that was charged with bouncing right back up to the Premier League, and he went on to play a pivotal role in their promotion efforts, racking up 27 league appearances along the way. That number would have been higher if not for a thigh injury that also kept him out of the MNT’s World Cup Qualifying camp in March, but Yedlin returned late in the season to not only help the Toon Army back to the Premier League, but also jump above Brighton & Hove Albion to claim the Championship title on the final day of the campaign.
Meanwhile, Sunderland suffered the same relegation fate which Newcastle United experienced last year.
“I feel very good about the move. Obviously the goal that we set at the beginning of the year was promotion. We’re happy with that, and to win the league as well is pretty good. I think it really helped me, and I was able to be coached by a world-class coach in Rafa Benitez and play with some great players. Now we’re in the Premier League and hopefully we can keep the momentum pushing.”
“Newcastle is such a big club that it almost felt like promotion was expected,” he added. “We were expected to win every game and we’d sellout the other stadiums because people wanted to come see us play. It was great though. We were always the one coming in expected to win and teams gave us their best game. It was a very good experience for me.”
Having made his home on Tyne-side, Yedlin is now focused on his first U.S. MNT training camp since November. He played sparingly during the opening Final Round qualifiers last year, and like many of his injured teammates the speedy right back watched from afar as the U.S. earned four important World Cup Qualifying points in March.
Back in camp, Yedlin is ready to re-establish himself in the team and with MNT head coach Bruce Arena going into crucial World Cup Qualifiers against Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico.
Thus far, the returns have been good.
“Camp has been organized, everything has run smoothly and training is great. It’s still a lot of the same faces that we saw before, but I think Bruce has a little bit different style, different tactics. I haven’t played in a game yet with him, but I think we’ll do great. We started well in the last qualifiers and I don’t think that will change here.”