Three top rookies from Major League Soccer’s 2013 season will reunite Saturday when the Colorado Rapids visit Seattle Sounders FC.
Seattle’s DeAndre Yedlin was among the three rookie-of-the-year finalists last season, along with Colorado forward Deshorn Brown and midfielder Dillon Powers, who won the award.
“I love it,” Yedlin said of the second-season reunion. “It’s always great when you can see young talent making a name for themselves in the league. I think it’s great for the league. They’re great guys — I know Deshorn; I know Dillon pretty well. They’re great guys and they’re great players, and it’s fun to play against them because they provide a really great challenge.”
Powers and Brown have remained key weapons for the Rapids. Brown has appeared in all six games, starting five, and he leads the team with 18 shots and six shots on target while recording one goal. Powers has started all six games while playing 511 minutes — third most on the team.
Meanwhile, Yedlin has played every minute of the Sounders’ seven games.
This season also has brought Yedlin his first cap with the United States national team.
Seattle coach Sigi Schmid believes that any talk about a sophomore slump simply reflects the far higher expectations now surrounding the 20-year-old.
“He’s been looked at with a little more of a critical eye than he was … last year,” Schmid said. “He’s not being looked at as DeAndre Yedlin, academy player getting some time on the first team. He’s now being looked at as DeAndre Yedlin, possible World Cup player. But ... he’ll continue to grow and improve. His appetite for the game is good, and his desire ... to get better is good.”
While pleased with Yedlin’s performance this season, Schmid has been in coaching long enough to know that there are some
practical reasons that can make the so-called “sophomore jinx” more than a myth.
“The opponent knows you; the opponent knows what you’re going to do,” he said. “It’s sort of like the same in some other sports where they’ve now sort of seen your trick or what you’re doing. And now ... it becomes about consistency. For him, I think he’s been reasonably consistent.”
The corresponding advantage is that Yedlin also knows more about his opponents than he did a season ago.
However, that might be mitigated a bit in Yedlin’s case because he admits to not valuing that additional information as much as other players might.
“I’m not the kind of guy who likes to know who I’m going against — almost,” he said. “I like to figure it out during the game. Really, all I like to know is what foot they prefer, and if they’re fast or not, if they’re small or tall. I don’t like to know a lot about them because I like to try to focus on what I’m going to do in my game and try to make them adapt to what I’m doing.”
Instead, Yedlin says the biggest advantage in his second professional season is his increased certainty that he can do his job well.
“The confidence,” he said. “You already know what you can do because you’ve obviously done it in the first year. So, I think just the confidence is probably the biggest thing.”