USMNT youngster DeAndre Yedlin has ridden with Sunderland through an up-and-down first season at the Stadium of Light. Seeing the field for much of the early season, the 22-year-old pulled himself out of a mid-season bench spell and has started each of the last six matches.
For Yedlin, his season has represented his improvement as a player, something he credits to his move to the Premier League.
“My defensive side was something I wanted to work on, especially coming into the Premier League,” Yedlin told Sky Sports. “I felt that was the area of my game that needed the most improvement and the gaffer [Sam Allardyce] has really helped me with that.”
After the early-season rocky road, having stability at the managerial position has been a massive help for Yedlin, with Allardyce giving the US international a lengthy run in the first team, something that Yedlin has used to focus on his defensive abilities.
“Positional awareness comes with experience,” Yedlin said, “so getting game time helps, but we also work a lot in training as a back-line and also on defensive shape.
On loan from Tottenham, Yedlin’s logged 16 Premier League appearances totaling over 1,100 minutes this season, something that’s been invaluable to his overall game.
“Before, sometimes if the ball was played over my head I wouldn’t know where I was but now I feel a lot more comfortable. Sometimes I would be going forward when it really wasn’t the right time to go too, but now I’m picking my moments better.”
This would be great news for the USMNT, and fans will have already seen some defensive improvement during the recent 4-0 win over Guatemala during World Cup qualifying.
With a matchup against Premier League leaders Leicester City coming up this weekend, Yedlin will likely have the chance to prove he has indeed improved his overall game, likely set to match up with Marc Albrighton on Sunderland’s right wing.