A hamstring injury cost DeAndre Yedlin the first four matches of his Premier League season, but the American right back looked anything but rusty in his return.
Yedlin passed and moved well, a significant part of pivotal defensive and attacking play as Newcastle moved into the Top Four with a 2-1 win over Stoke City at St. James Park on Saturday.
[ RECAP: Newcastle 2-1 Stoke City ]
The 24-year-old University of Akron product says Rafa Benitez made it clear that the side’s energy would put it on the front foot in the game and with the boisterous home crowd.
“It’s one of the things the gaffer talked about before the game – we have to show team spirit and get the fans behind us,” Yedlin told nufc.co.uk. “And they were behind us the whole game, credit to them. Even when (Stoke) tied it up, we kept fighting and the fans got louder and louder, and eventually we got the winning goal.”
Yedlin’s absence didn’t just hamper Benitez’s plans for the start of the season, the American speedster was missing for the USMNT’s poor international break.
He spoke about his time away from the pitch.
“Obviously I injured my hamstring early in pre-season, came back for a little bit and injured it again. The thing with a hamstring injury, or any muscular injury in your leg, is that you have to be careful – especially the type of player I am,” he said.
“It’s a big asset to me. Sometimes, it can be a little bit scary to go out and sprint and jump and do those athletic sorts of things, but I thought I was fine today. I think the medical staff have done a great job with me, so credit to them for getting me back fit and healthy. I’m looking to push forward from here.”
If Saturday was any indication, the U.S. is getting an already in-form player back. Newcastle next meets up with Brighton and Hove Albion in the lone PL match on Sept. 24.
Don’t look now, but the Clarets have climbed into the Premier League top four.
Burnley found a way Stoke City late on Tuesday, picking up a 1-0 win at the Turf Moor behind Ashley Barnes‘ late finish.
[ MORE: Gremio reaches Club World Cup final, awaits Real Madrid or Al Jazira ]
The Clarets, who have now secured 31 points over their first 17 matches this season, leapfrogged Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham with the victory. However, all three sides will be in action on Wednesday.
Steven Defour nearly put Burnley ahead on 69 minutes, when the front man tested Stoke keeper Jack Butland — who had to make a sprawling save to his right.
While Stoke mustered up several quality chances, it was Johann Berg Gudmundsson’s blast in the first half that nearly found the top left corner.
Next up for Burnley will be a date against Brighton on Saturday, while Stoke travels to Huddersfield the same day.
One half of this year’s FIFA Club World Cup final was decided on Tuesday as Brazilian side Gremio topped Liga MX champions Pachuca.
Second-half substitute Everton proved to be the difference for the Brazilians, with the attacker scoring in extra time to lift Gremio.
[ MORE: LA FC selects Urena, four others in MLS Expansion Draft ]
Pachuca’s chances of completing a comeback were extinguished with 10 minutes remaining in extra time, as Víctor Guzman was sent off upon picking up his second yellow card of the semifinal.
Meanwhile, Japanese side Urawa Red Diamonds captured fifth place in the tournament after narrowly topping Wydad Casablanca, 3-2.
Despite going behind early, Urawa responded almost immediately in the first half, before building its lead to 3-1 at the hour mark.
A late penalty kick from Reda Hajhouj gave Casablanca a glimmer of hope in the dying moments, however, the Moroccan-based club couldn’t find a way to equalize.
Gremio will await either La Liga giants Real Madrid or Al Jazira in the Club World Cup final, which will be played on Saturday. The loser of that match will take on Pachuca in the third-place game.
Below are the scores from Tuesday’s FIFA Club World Cup matches.
Gremio 1-0 Pachuca (after extra time)
Wydad Casablanca 2-3 Urawa Red Diamonds — Fifth-place match
Los Angeles FC selected five players in the MLS Expansion Draft, including Costa Rican national team star Marco Urena.
Whether they’ll make their way to the City of Angels is another story.
The first pick from general manager John Thorrington was goalkeeper Tyler Miller from Seattle Sounders.
[ MORE: Benitez on NUFC struggles ]
Going next was Latif Blessing from Sporting KC, an electric attacker who netted thrice with an assist last season.
Next was Urena from San Jose and the Costa Rican national team, a huge addition, and then Columbus left back Jukka Raitala before closing up the draft with Raheem Edwards from Toronto FC.
LAFC has already announced the signings or acquisitions of Carlos Vela, Walker Zimmerman, Carlos Alvarez, Monday Etim, and Guillermo Vizcarra.
The club will also loan Omar Gaber from Basel and Rodrigo Pacheco from Lanus.
Chelsea visits the John Smith’s Stadium to face Huddersfield Town in one of three Premier League fixtures this chilly Tuesday in December (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
The Blues are now 14 points back of Manchester City, and three points clear of fifth place.
Meanwhile there are a pair of matches on NBC Sports Gold: Burnley looks to keep pace with its Top Four ambitions when it hosts struggling Stoke City, while in-form Crystal Palace seeks a home win that would move it out of the drop zone. In its way? Dangerous, attack-minded Watford.
Burnley vs. Stoke City — 2:45 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]
Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea — 3 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]
Crystal Palace vs. Watford — 3 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]