Sounders FC right back DeAndre Yedlin spent last week in Southern California, where he received advice from someone who knows a thing or two about defense: former Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
“He actually was telling me a lot of stuff,” Yedlin said after returning to Sounders training Monday at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila. “The main thing was just to make sure I know I’m a defender first and do my defensive responsibilities, and then I can get forward after that.”
Yedlin was in Carson, Calif., with the United States U-20 soccer team as it prepared for the FIFA U-20 World Cup. Keller, a native of Olympia and the Sounders’ No. 1 keeper from 2009-2011, was there as an assistant under coach Tab Ramos.
“It’s just good to get back into the lineup and represent your country,” said Yedlin. “I got thrown right in with what would be called the first team, I guess. It was definitely a good feeling. I felt a lot more confident going into it, just a lot more prepared in general.”
Yedlin, 19, has played all 540 minutes of his first Major League Soccer season. That streak will end if Yedlin is selected to join the USA on its World Cup quest in Turkey this summer. And that seems likely, although Ramos still has a couple of weeks before presenting his 30-man preliminary roster to FIFA.
“He basically said that (the U-20 team) plus a couple other players who play overseas would be the pool that they select for the World Cup,” Yedlin said. “Just to even make it that far is amazing. (I’m) hoping for the best, cross my fingers and see if I can get to Turkey.”
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid already is preparing Brad Evans or Zach Scott to play right back if Yedlin gets the call. And if it happens, Schmid said time among the best U-20 players in the world likely will result in an improved Yedlin returning to the Sounders.
“Anytime you can get international experience, I think it helps the player,” Schmid said. “When individual players get better, your team gets better. I think the exposure that you get in those competitions is fantastic.”
Sounders Academy forward Jordan Morris also participated in the national team camp — sometimes matched against Yedlin.
“He’s a tough kid to play against,” Yedlin said. “He’s huge. He’s fast. Once he gets in front of you, it’s impossible to get back around him.”
The Sounders return to training today and Wednesday before flying to the East Coast on Thursday.
Even after a bye week, several Sounders were held out or limited in training Monday.
Midfielder Steve Zakuani was absent while receiving a blood test that was ordered after a routine checkup. Schmid had no details on the cause of the test or its outcome.
Other missing or limited players were forward Obafemi Martins, defenders Marc Burch and Djimi Traore, and reserve goalkeeper Josh Ford. Schmid indicated that none of those players has been ruled out for Saturday, when the Sounders return to Major League Soccer play at Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, forward Eddie Johnson was fully involved. He said afterward that his hamstring seems completely healed and that he is ready if called to face the Union.blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer