It has been three weeks since DeAndre Yedlin's first experience at the FIFA World Cup ended, but the entire process still hasn't sunk in with the burgeoning superstar of American soccer.
“It’s definitely been a whirlwind. There’s not been a lot of time to sit down and pinch myself to make sure it’s real. It’s definitely been pretty wild, but it’s been fun. I’m having a great time with it," Yedlin told Bleacher Report.
Yedlin, 21, catapulted himself onto the American sporting radar with three strong performances as a substitute against Portugal, Germany and Belgium.
In his first World Cup game, Yedlin started a move on the right wing that led to Clint Dempsey's 81st-minute goal.
“Honestly, I just went out there and said, 'Relax and do your thing.' Jurgen [Klinsmann] definitely helped to calm me down a lot. If I make a mistake, I just try to recover on the ball as soon as possible, work hard, create and from that I felt really comfortable and relaxed.”
The Seattle Sounders right-back also made his defensive prowess known, especially on one play against Belgium when he sprinted back down the pitch to defend Eden Hazard.
"[World-class players like Hazard] have their strengths, but they also have their weaknesses, and you just figure out how to exploit those weaknesses and that’s what I try to do. There are things you have to look at with those world-class players, but at the end of the day, they’re not superheroes. They’re still human.”
Since returning from Brazil, Yedlin has joined back up with the Sounders in their quest for the Major League Soccer Supporters' Shield and, eventually, a run in the MLS Cup playoffs.
Thanks to his performances, and the ones turned in by his club teammate Dempsey, he has noticed more support from outside Seattle for his side.
“I definitely see some tweets saying that I’m going to watch the Sounders game tonight because Clint and DeAndre are playing. Those are people that aren’t even Sounders fans. Those are people that happened to watch the World Cup, see us and become fans of us. I’m glad anything we did at the World Cup is helping grow soccer in America and helping get more people on the Sounders bandwagon and the MLS bandwagon.”
One thing about Seattle that stands out from the rest of the cities that contain MLS franchises is the club's attendance. The Sounders broke a league record in 2013 for an average crowd of 44,038 at CenturyLink Field, per Mike Prindiville of Pro Soccer Talk.
At the club's friendly on Saturday against the English Premier League's Tottenham Hotspur, 55,349 people were in attendance to see the sides play to an exciting 3-3 draw. With a team like the Spurs coming to the Pacific Northwest, Yedlin believes it is a win-win situation for everyone involved.
“As a player, you love to play in front of a big crowd. Obviously, it helps build [Tottenham's] brand. They’re a team that a lot of people know, but anytime you can get out and play in front of a group that you really never played against, it’s huge. It helps build their brand, it helps build our brand, it helps build the brand of MLS and the Premier League. I think it’s a win-win for everybody.”
Another game that will further build the MLS brand this summer occurs on Aug. 6, when Yedlin and the MLS All-Stars will take on Bayern Munich at Portland's Providence Park.
With Bayern Munich comes a heavy amount of German players who took on Yedlin and the United States in the final game of Group G play before going on to win the World Cup.
“We obviously learned a lot because we played against those players before. You know a little bit about how they’re going to play. The playing style is a little bit different, but in terms of individually, we know a lot about the players now. We’re just going to play them like any other team, and that’s what I’m expecting.”
As for how he, Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and the other Sounders will be received in the stadium of their biggest rival, that remains to be seen.
“I’m interested to see what the reaction will be like for me, Clint and Oba, but whatever it is, I’m just gonna go out there and play and do my best.”
There is no doubt that Portland rivals Seattle in its passion for the beautiful game, but the Timbers do not put up the same attendance numbers as their foes because of the limited number of seats in their stadium.
“The thing about Portland is, if they had a stadium like ours, they would probably fill it up, too. I hate to say it because I don’t like Portland, but they have a very passionate fan group. Seattle’s the best [fan group in MLS], but I’ll give them No. 2.
“They have a great fan group, and it’s a place you don’t like to go to play because you always get heckled by the fans. They give the team so much momentum, confidence and support.”
On top of all that going on, Yedlin and his Sounders teammates are drawing more attention because of Dempsey's appearance on the cover of FIFA 15.
“Clint is a great representative for the cover. He’s such a good guy, and he’s the face of U.S. Soccer. Everybody knows him; everybody knows his face. I’m super excited for him.
“[The game] not only helps the growth of American soccer, but it helps people learn about it. If you understand the game, you’re more interested in it.”
With the flurry after Brazil showing no signs of dying down, Yedlin may not get to pinch himself for a while, but when he does, he can certainly hold his head high knowing what the United States' showing at the World Cup did for the following of the game back home.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.
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