Nearly a year after joining Newcastle, it seems that DeAndre Yedlin’s Toon experience is paying off at the international level.
In a game where the United States did not play a whole lot of offense against Mexico, Yedlin’s steadily improving defensive play was on full display.
El Tri spent a majority of the game attempting to attack down its left flank (the right side of the US defense). Yedlin not only held his own, but shut down several moves, sealing off players to force goal kicks, blocking crosses and running down balls on overlap attempts.
Other than Michael Bradley and maybe Christian Pulisic, Yedlin also looked like one of the most consistent offensive players on the pitch for the Americans. He made several runs to overlap or stretch the Mexico defense. He likely would have been more effective as well if he had been playing next to someone other than Paul Arriola, who made just his fourth international appearance. The 22-year-old midfielder played well, but let’s just say he is no Matt Ritchie.
The reason this is significant is because of the narrative that followed Yedlin to Newcastle when he joined last August. There were fans of the US National team that were uncertain that a move to Tyneside was the best thing for the Seattle native, considering that he was leaving White Hart Lane to do so.
Clearly, the consistent play time and overall challenge that the Championship brings paid off in the end for Yedlin, as he is now likely the best defensive player on the US backline, save John Brooks. He is undoubtedly the top option at right back. Much of that can be attributed to his time with Newcastle, and more specifically, the great coaching he has received from Rafa Benitez.
With the raw ability that Yedlin already possesses thanks to his incredible speed and acceleration, there is a world of possibility of what he could become if he continues to improve his technical game. His crossing and passing still need some work as does his off ball defense. I have no doubt though that Benitez will find a way to get the most out of the young American defender.