Sounders second-year homegrown DeAndre Yedlin met with Seattle-area media this morning, talking for about 15 minutes on his World Cup experience so far.
Here’s the start of the transcript:
Overview on his experience and how far he’s come: This experience has been amazing. I think it’s one of the things that every soccer player dreams of, to be able to be here now at a young age and to be able to compete with some of the best players in the world is a dream come true.
On USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s comments that the USA can’t win the competition: I think as players we didn’t really take a lot from that. We know that Jurgen has confidence in us. He’s been pushing us every day and really pushing us to be the best that we can be. We all know that he believes in us and we believe in ourselves. That’s really I think all we need. I think it’s shown in the group round. We’re not just a team that’s going to come in here and just get beat up on. We’re going to be a team that fights and that’s looking obviously to win this thing.
On his expectation of playing time after being included on the roster: Honestly, with Jurgen it’s hard to tell how much time you’re going to be getting, especially if you’re sort of a bubble player like I am. I came in and really all you can do is work as hard as you can. I didn’t really have an expectation. If I got on the field, then that would be amazing. But if not, then I was going to do everything I could do to help the guys that were on the field. So it’s just one of those things where you just do what you can, and do what you’re in control of, and just hope that your hard work and what you’re doing on the practice field helps you get on the field.
On his feeling checking into his first World Cup match: I was actually surprisingly not too nervous. I kind of surprised myself a little bit in terms of that – I thought I was going to be way more nervous. But I wasn’t too nervous. I kind of came in, felt comfortable, and I credit a lot of that to my teammates just making me feel comfortable on the field. As a team we’ve grown so much this past month or month and a half, and I think it’s definitely showing with our games. Like I said before, I wasn’t too nervous. Obviously there was a little bit of butterflies there, but that’s normal. It was good. It was an amazing feeling to get on the field.
On chances of winning the Cup: I’m confident we can. Everybody here believes. I think that’s the No. 1 thing that you need to have is to believe that you can win it. I know everybody here has bought in, everybody here believes. We have some absolutely great players here, and I think one of the things that makes the team so great is we might not have as talented players as the other teams, but we play as a team. It kind of reflects the (San Antonio) Spurs team this year – the NBA championship. They have obviously some very talented players, but like our team. But we don’t have the Ronaldos, we don’t have the Goetzes and the Mullers. We have a team and we’re all going to play together and I think that’s what makes our team so strong and a contender to win it.
Contact with folks in Seattle: I’ve talked with Josh a little bit, my roommate, Lamar, Oba, Djimi, obviously some of the other players – Jalil, Tristan – and the support has been absolutely amazing. I think it can sometimes be a little bit hard obviously to see a younger player in this position, but those guys are such good guys they obviously want the best for me. It’s been pretty amazing to see, and I’ve seen some videos of the reactions of when I went in back in Seattle and that was pretty amazing, too. … Just to see how much passion Seattle has and how much they’re supporting not only me and Clint, but this whole team.
MLS representation on the team: It’s incredible. It’s really shown how much this league has grown, and I think it shows this league is not just a place to come when you’re old just to make money or whatnot. It’s a league that creates some great players, and I think it’s only getting better. I think by the next World Cup there will be even more MLS players. And it’s an exciting thing to see because coming into the league last year, I’m kind of right at the heart of it, right at the core of the growth. It’s been incredible to see.
Playing more of midfield role: I love it. Obviously defensively it’s a little more pressure off my shoulders. I’m in more of … and attacking position. But it’s been great. Basically my role is to come in and create stuff, which is what I love to do – especially coming in when there are defenders who are a little bit beat from the game, it’s great, it’s a lot of fun. Playing with a guy like Fabian behind me is incredible. I’m learning a lot from him, so it’s pretty amazing just to be able to get on the field and play a position that I really haven’t played probably in the last four years.
Lessons from Sounders Academy: I think with the academy, it was that step where everything just becomes a lot more professional. I remember the first academy practice, the big thing there was they had Gatorades and protein shakes for us after practice. I know we all thought that was incredible. It’s like, ‘Wow, I’m getting even closer to being a professional.’ They emulate everything that the professional team does. It’s a little bit harder because you don’t have the money, but they do an amazing job of trying to give you a sense of what it’s going to be like when and if you get to that stage.
Academy players seeing him as symbol of hope: It’s incredible. I’ve watched those kids play, and they have a great team. The academy is getting stronger every year. To be able to give them that hope or influence that I guess I am on these kids. It’s amazing. That’s what I love to do. … Anytime you can do that in life, whether it be in sports or anything, I think it’s an amazing feeling, and I definitely feel that right now.
Heat and humidity of Brazil: It’s tough to play in, and especially being from Seattle where it’s not very humid and it’s not very hot. It’s been pretty difficult for me. … It’s hot. It’s muggy. But it’s been good. We’ve played in conditions like this before – it’s nothing that we haven’t see – but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to play in.
Team reaction to Dempsey’s captaincy: It’s been pretty amazing to see Clint do stuff. I always knew Clint was a warrior, but the past couple of weeks have put the cherry on top with that. He’s a captain, and a lot of people say well what does he do that makes him a captain. He’s not a guy who’s going to talk a lot on the field, but he’s a guy that plays and captains his team through actions of how he plays on the field. I think everybody see that. Scoring 30 seconds in (vs. Ghana) I think that set the momentum, that sent to tone for us, not just for that game but for the whole tournament. That’s what we need a captain to do and Clint has done that perfectly this tournament.
On what he has seen of Brazil away from the pitch: We actually get out a pretty good amount, especially when we’re in Sao Paulo, just because that’s where our basecamp is. It’s still a little bit tough because we can’t go too far just for security reasons. But we get out and we’re able to walk around a little bit. From what I’ve seen, it’s great. I love Brazil. Everything’s very family-oriented here. From what I’ve seen, it hasn’t seemed to be too much about money, you rely more on your family and your loved ones more than just having money. I think that’s a great moral to live by. I’ve enjoyed my time here, and it’s definitely a place I’d like to come back to.
Youngster among veterans: The veteran guys have been amazing. It’s kind of the same as how it was when I went to Seattle. There really is no hazing. … They’ve been very supportive, giving us the most confidence that they can and really pushing us along and making us feel like we really belong here. I know as a young guy it can be hard, especially if you’re not one of the main guys and you don’t see the field, it can be hard to keep your confidence up. But they’ve done amazing at keeping us pushing and really helping us along.
On announcement today that Jozy Altidore cleared for Belgium match: He looks OK to me. That’s really his call, but he’s been doing well. He’s definitely been recovering faster than we all thought he would,s o we’re all hopeful for tomorrow.