By John Boyle Herald Writer
TUKWILA — You wonder if perhaps this is all too much, too soon for DeAndre Yedlin.
You wonder if maybe, just maybe the Sounders rookie right back, who on Monday was named to the MLS All-Star team, who earlier this summer played for the U.S. in the Under-20 World Cup, who has been a starter all season despite not turning 20 until last week, might let all of this go to his head.
Then you find out he drives an 11-year-old Subaru with 250,000 miles on it, about as egoless a vehicle as a young professional athlete could drive. It’s been a wild ride for Yedlin, who in the offseason was signed as the Sounders’ first homegrown player, but both he and his coach insist that this instant success won’t go to his head.
“He’s got a good head on his shoulder so he’s keeping himself in check,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said of his team’s only All-Star selection.
Don’t believe Schmid? Just check the team parking lot for that beat up Subaru.
“I’m going to drive that car until the wheels come off, save as much money as I can and be smart,” Yedlin said. “My parents taught me well.”
Yet if Yedlin’s car is on its last leg, his career is just getting going, and in spectacular fashion. When Major League Soccer announced that Yedlin would be the first rookie All-Star since New England’s Michael Parkhurst in 2005, the news was somewhat surprising, but not a complete shocker considering what Yedlin has done this year.
Coming into the season, Yedlin figured to provide depth and learn the professional game behind Adam Johansson. The Shoreline native and O’Dea High School grad was talented, to be sure, but there was just no way to expect much right off the bat from a 19-year-old who had just two years of college experience at Akron under his belt.
As it turned out, however, Yedlin got his chances early with Johansson battling a preseason injury, and he played so well the Sounders felt comfortable parting ways with Johansson to save cap space, handing the starting job to a teenager. His play early in the season got the attention of the U.S. Under-20 national team, which had mostly ignored him in previous competitions, and led to a trip to Turkey for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
Now, Yedlin can also call himself an All-Star, having been named to the 18-man roster for the July 31 game against Italian club AS Roma as one of two selections made by MLS commissioner Don Garber.
“I never really expected any of this,” Yedlin said. “Of course I wanted it, but I never really expected it. To come in here and make the strides I’ve made and eventually achieving a spot on the All-Star team, it’s amazing and it’s humbling, but like I said before, there’s still things I need to work on and I’m just going to continue to do that.”
As Yedlin himself points out, he has plenty to work on. He admits he could have defended better on San Jose’s only goal Saturday. But despite the inevitable ups and downs that come with being a rookie, he has unexpectedly been one of Seattle’s most consistent players in a season full of inconsistent play, both by the team and by certain players individually.
Yedlin, who is the youngest player in franchise history to play a complete game and to record an assist, has started 13 of 17 league matches and played 1,180 minutes, the fifth-highest total on the team.
“I don’t think anybody thought that at this point in his career, he’d being doing as well as he has, but it’s credit to him,” said veteran defender Zach Scott. “He’s come in every day and kept his head down and worked hard. To be a young guy playing as consistent as he’s playing, that’s hard to do.”
Schmid said goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, who left Saturday’s game with a wrist/forearm injury, will see a specialist today to determine the severity of the injury. The problem involves a tendon injury, not a fracture, but Schmid acknowledged that, “This week does not look good for him, for sure.” That means Andrew Weber, who just signed with the team last week because of an injury to backup Marcus Hahnemann, will likely get the start this weekend. Schmid didn’t sound optimistic about defender Djimi Traore either, saying the hamstring injury suffered in Saturday’s loss to San Jose was a “day-to-day, week-to-week type of thing.” Brad Evans, who also left the game with a rib injury, was able to take part in part of practice, as was forward Obafemi Martins, who missed the game with a calf injury.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.