It happened at midfield in a sequence that eventually went viral on the internet on September 16, 2014.
Late in that year’s Final against hosts Philadelphia Union, the right-back (at the tail-end of his teens) made a challenge in the middle of the field. But when he headed it, the ball went straight to a Union player.
"I made a bad mistake and miss-hit the ball," Yedlin, now 29, remembered of that long-ago day. "It went straight up."
The Union player passed to Cristian Maidana who then raced 1v1 with a defender toward Seattle’s goal, hoping for his second and go-ahead goal of the match. "And then I had to put the jets on to try to get back and stop the guy," Yedlin said.
Which he did -- in spectacular (and memorable) fashion.
Like something straight out of a FIFA video game, Yedlin dead-sprinted 50 yards to take the ball away from Maidana at the top of the penalty area before the Union midfielder could do any damage.
A Moment Worth Remembering
"That was probably the most memorable moment just because I was so scared at the time," he said. "I was like, 'Oh my gosh, my mistake is going to lose us the Open Cup,' but I ended up fortunately making up for it."
The Sounders went onto win their fourth Open Cup crown in six years, behind extra-time goals from Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins in a 3-1 triumph in Chester, Pennsylvania. And it was then that Yedlin got his medal."It's obviously great," he said. "Any time you have the chance to win anything, you want to put your best foot forward and do it."
Or in Yedlin's case, both feet, and at lightning speed.
Yedlin never got an opportunity to defend the title as he joined Tottenham in England’s Premier League after that MLS season. He was loaned to Sunderland before starting a five-year stint up north with Newcastle United in 2016.
During his seven years in England, the 5-8, 165-lb defender competed in two tournaments that typically stretch the limits of players and squads -- the FA Cup, the best-known domestic competition on the planet, and in the EFL Cup (aka the League Cup).
Cup Vibes Hit Different
"It's different, especially with the FA Cup, where you have different tiers of teams, different levels of teams, which makes the game even more interesting," Yedlin said. "You have teams that are not in the Premier League, not even the Championship, that are basically fighting for their lives. They want to be the underdog story.
"So those games are incredibly intense,” Yedlin added. “The lower divisions make it a bit more difficult because their grounds are actually pretty hostile. Their smaller fields aren't as good. On top of that, just with all the games that the Premier League has, it's even more games to be played. It's a really a really difficult competition, but it comes with so much tradition and history.”
“Anytime you can be a part of it, it’s fun," Yedlin went on.
Neither Tottenham, Sunderland nor Newcastle went deep in either tournament when Yedlin played for the clubs. So he admits that his Cup memories are limited.
"Those ones are hard because I never had the opportunity to win anything," he said. "I feel like when you don't win anything, everything goes into a blur."
"Just competing, being a kid and knowing what the FA Cup is, what the League Cup is, just having an opportunity to be able to compete in that and one day telling my kids that I competed not only in the Premier League, but in those competitions, it was a big honor," Yedlin added.
Back at the Old USOC
This year’s tournament – the 108th edition of the Open Cup – is Yedlin’s third. His first game of the 2023 tournament came in the Third Round and was a wild affair that needed penalties before Inter Miami saw off lower-league neighbors Miami FC of the USL Championship at FIU Stadium.
That game finished 1-1 after regular time and then 2-2 after a wild five-minute scramble in extra-time that saw Yedlin both score in his own goal and smash the ball off the crossbar of Miami’s FC’s. That result led directly to another slim 1-0 win over high-flying USL Championship side Charleston Battery.
Inter Miami started the current MLS campaign on a high note with two consecutive wins, but they then went on to drop games. Yedlin believes that Open Cup victories could help spark a turnaround in league play – which seemed to be the case with a weekend win over the Columbus Crew.
"Absolutely," said Yedlin, who’ll face MLS league mates Nashville SC in the Round of 16. "Winning in the league or winning in the Cup, anything that can really change; change that confidence, change that belief, can definitely turn things around.
Between domestic and international duty, it’s been a whirlwind 15 months for Yedlin. After the U.S. Men's National Team were knocked out of the Qatar World Cup in early December, he got an opportunity to catch his breath, get some much-needed down time and celebrate the holidays with his family in the states for the first time in eight years.
A Welcome Respite
Remember, he played in England and Turkey for eight consecutive years. And while many leagues take a break for the winter holidays, England has scheduled matches on Boxing Day (December 26).
So, needless to say, Yedlin welcomed the respite.
"It was very nice," he said. "It was my first time being able to spend Christmas in the states in eight years. That was incredible getting to see family and not watching people on Instagram celebrating with their family. Finally, finally just being able to spend time with my family during a special holiday."
As a seasoned veteran who’s participated in two World Cups (2014 and 2018), the English Premier League, FA Cups and a season with Galatasaray in Turkey, the Seattle native knows the importance of winning – any way you can do it.
Mark your calendars 🗓️🏆— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) May 12, 2023
The @opencup is back at #DRVPNKStadium on May 23 at 7:30PM, as we take on Nashville SC in the Round of 16.
Secure your tickets now 🎟️: https://t.co/rPhP7zWyh3 pic.twitter.com/3zvBpsN6D9
“It's an opportunity to win something,” he said of the Open Cup – the tournament he won nearly a decade ago as a fresh-faced young gun on the rise. "It's an opportunity to go out and showcase ourselves. It's a great opportunity for everybody, for the team, for individual players.
“[You] Just go out and take the opportunity,” said the veteran who won't hit the same numbers on the radar gun as he did back in 2014 – but has the experience to guide a ship through troubled waters. “And let's see where it takes us."Michael Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @Soccerwriter on Twitter. His book (ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers) is available for purchase.