DeAndre Yedlin becomes Mauricio Pochettino’s fourth signing, but just what will he bring to Spurs?
After the magnificent seven signings last summer, only one of who was a defender, Mauricio Pochettino has been busy adding to our backline. Ben Davies, Eric Dier and Michel Vorm have arrived to bolster our resources at he back and now DeAndre Yedlin will join us from next season.
The American is an exciting young prospect at just 21 years of age. Regular readers of this blog will know that my usual player introduction articles and how they will affect the team go in to great detail, such as the ones on Roberto Soldado, Vlad Chiriches, Ben Davies or Michel Vorm.
Playing in the MLS, I only first saw DeAndre Yedlin for Seattle against Toronto FC. The reason was Jermain Defoe’s debut; with the added spice of former Spurs man Clint Dempsey leading the opposition. Why I noticed DeAndre Yedlin will become apparent later.
My next time viewing the American flyer was at the World Cup, where he caught the eye after coming on against Portugal in order to put the USA 2-1 up. Then there was ‘the match’ against Belgium where he really stood out in a gutsy team performance.
On the announcement of the agreed move for DeAndre Yedlin, I decided to watch some more of his performances to get a better idea of what he was about. I had some views, but wanted to gather some more information. These were a re-watch of the 2-1 loss to Defoe’s Toronto, along with the second leg of the MLS cup playoffs, a 3-2 loss in Portland and a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake.
My American readers and MLS followers will have plenty to add about DeAndre Yedlin and please do in the comments after reading, so we can all learn some more.
So, from what i’ve seen, this is what he will bring to Spurs.
DeAndre Yedlin attacking phase
This is the bit that brings the excitement. DeAndre Yedlin has pace to burn, but he also likes to get up the field and at the opposing full back.
Nowhere was this more apparent than in the World Cup. Yedlin was introduced, albeit on the right side of midfield against Portugal, playing a large part in the go-ahead goal.
In the move that lead to Dempsey’s strike, a number of traits that are a regular part of his game were evident.
1) He likes to get forward, especially on the overlap.
2) He plays with great width, often hugging the touchline.
3) He can dribble and go past his opponent, especially in 1v1 situations.
4) He provides good crossing that is difficult to deal with.
All of these were evident in the move that lead to the USA taking the lead.
DeAndre Yedlin was very wide so that he could be found running in to space. He took his man on and then provided a dangerous cross that was only partially cleared in to a high-risk area in the centre of the box, directly in front of goal.
Clint Dempsey would finish what was a well-worked move, but Yedlin’s part in the goal caught the eye.
Yedlin was to all intents and purposes a backup and he continued in this role until the game that really stood out, the USA’s quarter final with Belgium.
Our new signing was a substitute, but injury to starter Fabian Johnson gave the youngster his chance to impress and that he did. He was helped by the system of Jurgen Klinsmann, which heavily involved moving the ball out to the full backs. DeMarcus Beasley was integral down the left, as too was DeAndre Yedlin on the right.
Every time the ball was in central midfield, Michael Bradley and Geoff Cameron were looking to get it out to the flying full back. Yedlin retained his width by playing extremely wide, but we can also see how the ball was moved out to him, often over distance from these two guys in the centre.
Moving the ball out quickly and diagonally, often over distance, to the full backs is something we’ve seen since Mauricio Pochettino took over. As we can see from the USA game above, Yedlin likes to be aggressive by getting forward in to the opponents half of the field to receive these passes. This is something that has to have interested our scouts.
Getting forward is just one thing, but delivering telling crosses is also what Mauricio Pochettino wants from his full backs. DeAndre Yedlin can provide this with his is speed and ability to put the ball into dangerous corridors in the opposition’s penalty area.
Whilst his crosses may not complete on Stats Zone, they can often have other consequences, which are equally as dangerous. By that, I mean that if it doesn’t find his man for a shot or knockdown, it can often cause opponents to stretch and miss-clear, leading to second chances.
For example, a lunging Bruno Alves in the Portugal game deflected his cross, which lead to Dempsey’s go-ahead goal. Against Belgium, he served up another cross that saw the ball knocked down to Jermain Jones right in front of the goal. Amidst the scramble, Jones could only fire the loose ball over the bar, which would’ve made the game 2-2.
What is prevalent often in him providing a cross is not just his ability to get forward, whilst also playing with width, but also his ability to beat an opponent 1v1. This was apparent in the Belgium game, as he often went at our own Jan Vertonghen. So much so, that Axel Witsel and Kevin De Bruyne often had to rotate over on the cover.
Another example, from the MLS Cup Playoffs 2nd leg match with Portland, saw him skin full back Michael Harrington from a standing start. Before delivering a beauty of a ball on to the head of Eddie Johnson.
Mauricio Pochettino requires that his full backs get forward to receive the ball, often over distance, in order to deliver crosses. From what I’ve seen, DeAndre Yedlin is very proficient at this and should be a welcome addition.
Our new coach also requires his full backs to get forward and help press the opposition. What’s more, they’ll need recovery speed to get back in to their defensive position if that pressure is unsuccessful.
DeAndre Yedlin can also be effective at this with his pace. Jurgen Klinsmann’s American side played more of a reactive game at the World Cup, but DeAndre Yedlin made a statement with ’that tackle’ on Eden Hazard.
What was impressive about the challenge was Yedlin’s closing speed in such a fast time against one of the World’s quickest dribblers of the ball.
He took it clean off Hazard and also frustrated the gifted Belgian for much of the night.
This was just one game though and Yedlin can be known to foul. So far this season in the MLS he averages 1.7 fouls per game, equal highest for Seattle. Although he only has two yellow cards through 14 appearances, 24 fouls is not a great return. And it does point to some other issues defensively.
DeAndre Yedlin defensively
Whilst going forward DeAndre Yedlin is a highly exciting prospect, defensively is where the lapses have come.
He is quick and can intercept the ball, whilst also able to make a tackle. His problems though are often concerned around the areas of concentration and positioning.
For me, this first came to light when i was watching the Defoe v Dempsey, Toronto vs Seattle game.
Defoe put his side in front, but DeAndre Yedlin got caught watching the ball and was looking out to cover the wide player. Defoe slipped off his shoulder and through the inside left channel to fire home.
The pass went straight between Yedlin and his centre back, who he had become separated from, with Defoe gobbling up the chance. It was the kind of play that a wily veteran does to a young rookie.
This was partly down to positioning, but also concentration, which appears to be another part of his game that needs ironing out.
Here, he switches off from a Portland free-kick, allowing Rodney Wallace to cross for Mamadou Danso to put the Timbers 2-0 up.
Earlier in the game, he also let Wallace drift by him, watching the winger move in to a high-risk area as the ball comes across the goal.
Fortunately for him, Wallace’s shot was saved. But Yedlin idling and not being aware of the Portland man going right past him to take up a dangerous position, then being slow to react was a concern.
Now this is not to get on his back too much, as his speed can see him recover and halt opposition counter attacks. However, positioning errors and concentration lapses like this are usually punished in the Premier League.
My sample size is small, so i’m sure my MLS following readers can provide more insight on this area of his game having watched more of his matches.
What DeAndre Yedlin will bring to Spurs
The cynics will say that he is just here to boost our presence in the American market. I believe that we’ve signed an exciting work in progress with real potential.
Yedlin won’t arrive at White Hart Lane until he finishes the MLS season with Seattle. By that time, he will probably have paid back the £2.5 million that we’ve paid for him in merchandise and replica kit sales, satisfying those who see him as a ‘boost the brand’ signing.
I’m more concerned with what’s on the playing field. What DeAndre Yedlin will bring to Spurs is an exciting prospect going forward. He plays with great width and can often beat his opponent in 1v1 situations to supply telling crosses.
Defensively he requires some work, but he is still only 21-years old and you would expect this at such a young age. This can be done through good training and instruction, but he does have that one aspect that can’t be coached, searing speed. This alone can be worth taking a gamble on at a relatively cheap price.
Whilst we have Kyle Walker, DeAndre Yedlin is a signing for backup and cover. But he is one that brings a great deal of excitement in that he can develop in to a very good forward-raiding right back.