DeAndre Yedlin embraces Cincinnati after stint with Lionel Messi and Inter Miami

Defender DeAndre Yedlin wears No. 91 for his new team, FC Cincinnati, in tribute to uncle Dylan Walton-Yedlin, who played American football.

Yedlin said his uncle — a standout defensive lineman at Union College in New York — was “like a father” to him. In fact, Yedlin has a tattoo of his uncle and himself, both wearing No. 91, on his forearm.

But the new number is about more than honoring his uncle.

“My whole career I've played with a number that has a two in it, whether it be No. 2 or 22 or 20 or 24," Yedlin said. "This will be the first time that I have a number that doesn't have that, and I think it marks a new beginning, a clean slate.”

Yedlin, who has been to a pair of World Cups with the United States, was traded from Inter Miami to Cincinnati earlier this week for $172,799 in 2024 general allocation money. He leaves a team led by Lionel Messi, but he joins another that last season won 20 games and earned the Supporters' Shield.

Yedlin said he had heard whispers about a possible trade before starting for Miami in a 5-0 victory over Orlando City last Saturday. Messi scored twice in that game.

A right back, Yedlin said he feels his style complements Cincinnati's backline with Matt Miazga and Miles Robinson — two of the players he spoke to when he was traded. Robinson, who also plays for the U.S. national team, joined Cincinnati as a free agent in the offseason.

Yedlin also pointed to attacking midfielder Luciano Acosta, the reigning MLS Most Valuable Player, as “another special Argentinian.” Both Messi and Acosta are from Argentina.

“They have a very distinct style of play and I think the type of player that I am fits that style," Yedlin said. “So, (I'll) just try to be very vertical and get up and down and get in behind defenses and be a menace on the defensive side.”

Yedlin, 30, played for his hometown Seattle Sounders for two seasons before he was lured in 2014 to Tottenham in the Premier League. He appeared in one match, against Aston Villa, before he was loaned to Sunderland for a season.

He played for Newcastle from 2016-21 and was with Turkish club Galatasaray for a year before he signed with Inter Miami in 2022.

Yedlin has been a regular defender on the U.S. national team, appearing in 81 matches since his debut in 2014. As a rookie he was named the U.S. Soccer Young Player of the Year.

Yedlin was on the U.S. roster for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, playing in three matches. He appeared in two games for the United States at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

“I’m always open to anything," he said. “I’ve been around the world playing and I just look at every new place that I go as a new experience. So I try to be as open minded as I can.”

Yedlin made his debut on Thursday night, starting in the opening match of the CONCACAF Champions Cup's round of 16 series against Mexican club Monterrey.

While Cincinnati lost 1-0 in the first leg, coach Pat Noonan called Yedlin's performance strong.

“We had to put a lot into defensive transition moments. And with his positioning of how he had to release high off the field, it was asking a lot of him at times. And I thought he was up to the task with the ball,” Noonan said. "He provided the right moments to just slow the game down and rotate. He did a good job with his timing of how he moved into the attack to be able to receive passes and get us over the box. Overall, for a player that’s only been here a couple of days, he was strong.”

Cincinnati hosts D.C. United on Sunday as the Major League Soccer season continues. The second leg of the Champions Cup is set for next Thursday in Monterrey.


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