TUKWILA, Wash. (AP) — DeAndre Yedlin confidently raced up and down the field for the United States against one of the top teams in the world, showing off skills that were recognized in Seattle and Major League Soccer but not so well known internationally.
And as he watched Yedlin's performance against Belgium with pride, Seattle coach Sigi Schmid couldn't help but feel that playing so well in the World Cup could bring an end to Yedlin's time with the Sounders sooner rather than later.
"When you look at it, he's a guy that's about to turn 21 and how many 21-year-old right backs have three World Cup games under their belt?" Schmid said. "That's a very exclusive market. It's something that we are proud of."
Yedlin rejoined the Sounders on Monday with a much higher profile than he had when the U.S. gathered for World Cup training camp nearly two months ago in Northern California and there was no certainty he would be on the plane to Brazil.
Yedlin is expected to be available for both of Seattle's matches this week against rival Portland — in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday and then in MLS play Sunday.
He returned to a flurry of attention after the U.S. was eliminated by Belgium in the round of 16 and amid reports that a deal is already in place for Yedlin to make the move to Europe.
Yedlin did not comment directly on reports coming from Italy about a pending deal that would see the 20-year-old defender move to AS Roma in 2015 after completing this season with Seattle. Yedlin said playing in Europe has always been a goal, but he quickly highlighted the improved talent of the MLS.
Seattle general manager Adrian Hanauer issued a statement saying if a deal with a foreign team is finalized the team will announce it.
"I'm kind of letting my representatives handle that right now," Yedlin said. "They'll obviously get back to me on that information but for right now I'm just focused on Seattle."
Schmid sounded almost resigned that eventually Yedlin will leave Seattle and get his shot at playing in one of the top leagues in the world.
"At the end of the day you want to do what is best for the players and help the players continue to grow and advance," Schmid said. "We're a club that wants to win and wants to succeed and I also think success is also predicated on when you do what is best for the players, you're going to have success."
Yedlin was a surprise selection by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann for the final 23-man roster that made the trip to Brazil. The roles Yedlin ended up playing were even more of a surprise. He came on as a late substitute playing in the midfield against Portugal and Germany in the group stage.
But it was his performance against Belgium that grabbed the spotlight. Coming on in the 32nd minute after defender Fabian Johnson was injured, Yedlin was a consistent offensive threat on the outside. But he also used his speed to remain solid on defense.
"It was a little nerve-wracking. I was obviously not really expecting that," Yedlin said. "But I think it helped I wasn't ready for it because I didn't have time to think, I just had to go on and play. It was good. Once I got comfortable I felt good, felt relaxed."