DeAndre Yedlin on his ‘leadership role’ within the USMNT

DeAndre Yedlin has become an integral part of the US men’s national team, both on and off the field. 

The defender got his second World Cup experience with the American side in 2022, after already featuring in the 2014 edition of the international competition. He stood as the only figure on the 26-player roster with prior experience of the tournament, propelling him to a take on a different role. 

His first time around, Yedlin was the second-youngest player on the squad at just 20 years old and four senior USMNT caps. He came off the bench in all 2014 group stage matches, helping the American team reach the Round of 16. 

“In 2014, when I was going in, I didn’t really know anything, I didn’t even think I would be there,” he said in an exclusive interview with 90min

Eight years later, he used the experience gained in Brazil to guide the new set of youngsters in the US camp. Despite the limited time on the pitch, featuring only a substitute in the knockout match against the Netherlands, Yedlin’s impact weighed heavily on the team. 

“This time around, it was a bit different,” he said.

“I think just the fact that I was older, and more experienced. I knew a little bit more of what to expect. I definitely grew into a more leadership role, whether that be on or off the field. Guys would come to me for advice, not necessarily soccer advice, but for conversations about life.”

And now, he has his sights set on 2026. 

“I know I am going to be a little bit older, but, and I actually said this to Tim Ream, he really inspired me. Being 35, and coming in to have the World Cup that he did, it really motivates me to keep pushing and give it a go. No reason it can’t happen,” Yedlin explained.

The USMNT started a new World Cup cycle in 2023, with several friendlies and Concacaf tournaments slated. The American team will not partake in qualifiers, earning an automatic place in the 2026 tournament for serving as one of three hosts with Canada and Mexico. 

But despite a limited amount of competition in the years leading up to the international tournament, Yedlin is convinced the team has the necessary tools to reach a World Cup final. 

“This past tournament was definitely needed, it was the first step. Everybody now has World Cup experience under their belt, so now everyone just needs to continue doing well for their club teams. Staying in form, staying injury free,” he said smiling. 

“We definitely have a group that can get very far, and has potential to make it. But at the end of the day, potential is just potential, we have to put action to that. The coming years will be a very exciting time for the US.”

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