DeAndre Yedlin is currently in Santa Clara, California with his American international teammates preparing for USA's first match in the 2016 Copa America Centenario, and this off season is looking like it could be a defining one for the young Tottenham Hotspur fullback.
Many observers, including Yedlin himself, have commented on how his season-long loan at Sunderland has improved him as a player. That improvement is now being recognized by his international teammates. USA utility man and Stoke City player Geoff Cameron specifically mentioned it, in comments to the press as reported in the Chronicle.
“It’s night and day. You see his tenacity, his aggressiveness, his thought process on the ball. He’s got the experience.
“[Yedlin's] been fighting relegation pretty much all season and that changes you as a player because it’s do or die, the fact that you either lose your contract or go down to the Championship, or you stay up, and that brings the team together or it doesn’t.
“Sunderland ended up bringing the team together, they worked for one another and he got a lot of experience on it, and that’s helped him and it will help him in his career.”
The experience of battling with a relegation-threatened team can be a defining one, but when you're on LOAN at a relegation-threatened team there's a certain kind of player who can check out of the process, knowing that whatever happens he'll end up back at his parent club at the end of the season. Yedlin doesn't appear to be that kind of player and used his time at Sunderland as a crucible for improving his defense.
Now, Yedlin has a chance to prove it to a wider audience. USA opens the 2016 Copa America Centenario tonight against a Colombia team that is expected to win their qualifying group, and all indications are that Yedlin will be a starter and key player for the Americans.
Yedlin is hoping that solid performances for USA this summer will help establish himself in North London and put him back in Mauricio Pochettino's plans for Tottenham next season. While it seems unlikely that he'll be able to dislodge starting fullback Kyle Walker next season, with Spurs in the Champions League and several domestic cup competitions there are minutes to be had, and there's a possibility that he could compete with Kieran Trippier to be Walker's primary backup at right back.