by A.J. Coltrane
Here’s a link to a post about Andre Yedlin and what it says about the future of US soccer. [ESPN/Grantland]
What got my attention was this paragraph:
Today, it’s easy to look at Yedlin — 5-foot-8 and thick-chested, and able to outrun the best soccer players in the world — and imagine him on an NFL roster. He could be Darren Sproles, leaving linebackers grasping at air, or he could be Tyrann Mathieu, another Mohawked terror with a knack for separating offensive players from the ball. In college, Yedlin was clocked at about 4.2 seconds in the 40-yard dash. And, says his college coach, Caleb Porter, “It’s about a lot more than top-end speed. It’s his burst, his ability to go from a jog to a sprint before you even realize what has just happened.” His athleticism, Porter says, “is truly world-class.”
If he really ran a 4.2 it’d make him about as fast as anyone in the NFL. That’s fringe Olympic sprinter speed. The top combine times since 2009:
|4.24||Rondel Melendez||5 ft 9 in (175 cm)||192 lb (87 kg)||1999|
|4.24||Chris Johnson||5 ft 11 in (180 cm)||192 lb (87 kg)||2008|
|4.25||Tavon Austin||5 ft 8 in (173 cm)||178 lb (81 kg)||2013|
|4.26||Jerome Mathis||5 ft 11 in (180 cm)||184 lb (83 kg)||2005|
|4.26||Dri Archer||5 ft 8 in (173 cm)||173 lb (78 kg)||2014|
|4.27||Stanford Routt||6 ft 2 in (188 cm)||193 lb (88 kg)||2005|
|4.27||Marquise Goodwin||5 ft 10 in (178 cm)||181 lb (82 kg)||2013|
|4.28||Champ Bailey||6 ft 0 in (183 cm)||192 lb (87 kg)||1999|
|4.28||Jacoby Ford||5 ft 9 in (175 cm)||190 lb (86 kg)||2010|
|4.28||DeMarcus Van Dyke||6 ft 1 in (185 cm)||187 lb (85 kg)||2011|
|4.29||Fabian Washington||5 ft 11 in (180 cm)||188 lb (85 kg)||2005|
|4.29||Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie||6 ft 2 in (188 cm)||184 lb (83 kg)||2008|
|4.29||Josh Robinson||5 ft 10 in (178 cm)||199 lb (90 kg)||2012|
|4.3||Darrent Williams||5 ft 9 in (175 cm)||176 lb (80 kg)||2005|
|4.3||Tye Hill||5 ft 10 in (178 cm)||185 lb (84 kg)||2006|
|4.3||Yamon Figurs||5 ft 11 in (180 cm)||174 lb (79 kg)||2007|
|4.3||Darrius Heyward-Bey||6 ft 2 in (188 cm)||210 lb (95 kg)||2009|
Not many of those guys are very tall, though on average they outweigh Yedlin by around 20 or 30 pounds.
The other line I thought was interesting was this one:
Some have suggested that Yedlin move full time to midfield. But his skill set, built on quickness and speed more than creativity and technique, would have a defined ceiling if he moved farther upfield. “Could he be a winger? Yeah, sure,” Porter says. “But when you look at the top wingers, he’s never going to be more technical and more clever off the dribble and in his combination and movement than those guys are. He just doesn’t have that. But at right back? With his athleticism, bombing forward, going box to box? Right now, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I mean, he obviously already looks like the right back of the future for our national team. Beyond that, he can be a Champions League right back. He can be that good.” The difference, says Porter: At age 21, it may already be too late to master the finer points of midfield technique. But defending? “Yeah,” Porter says, “that can definitely be taught.”
Is that the next wave of US Soccer? Kids who either started too old or are just generally underskilled but who have terrific athleticism. In that context they’re still useable as marauding defenders, striking up the sidelines and running past the opposing defenders.
Works for me.
The Yedlin to Tottenham deal is finally official. (As of 6 hours ago.) The details, and a picture of Yedlin holding a Tottenham jersey are at SI.com. That makes sense, he was held out of Sunday’s game and it was obvious why.