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Exclusive: Friedel discusses arrival of fellow American DeAndre Yedlin at Spurs

11:34 27 January 2015

DeAndre Yedlin

DeAndre Yedlin

EMPICS Sport

Brad Friedel says his fellow American DeAndre Yedlin is settling in well at Tottenham, and he is pleased to see a young member of the national team moving from Major League Soccer to the Premier League.

Brad FriedelBrad Friedel

However, the 43-year-old goalkeeper has warned that Spurs’ new signing needs time to adapt to the pace of English football and should be allowed to do so without too much expectation at this early stage.

Right-back Yedlin was signed from Seattle Sounders in the summer and, having completed his move in this January transfer window, the 21-year-old has been training with the first team while donning the Spurs shirt for an Under-21 fixture earlier in the month.

The pacy USA international has briefly departed to join up with Jurgen Klinsmann’s national squad for a friendly against Chile this week, but Friedel has been impressed by what he has seen from the new recruit around the training ground.

“The first time I met him was when he came here, but I’ve watched him play many times and I think he’s settled in really well,” said former USA international Friedel.

“It’s a lot different than Seattle obviously and he’s just received his work permit two or three weeks ago, but he’s settled in nicely. It’s a new culture, new team, new everything for him.

“He’s a really good guy, a nice guy who’s got a smile on his face every day, and I think he’s mixed in with the boys very well.

“There’s a massive difference between the two leagues. The MLS is getting better and better, but the Premier League is different than any other league in the world in one main area, and that is the pace of play.

“Any players, it doesn’t matter who you are – and you’ve seen some world-class players coming and going from the Premier League – it takes them time to get their eye in.

“That’s what he’s doing in training – and he looks good in training, he looks really sharp. So he’ll just have to work really hard and hopefully get his playing time in due course.

“He has pace – he has a lot of that – but I think he has more to his game than just pace.

“When you go to different leagues in the world you have to adapt to their styles of play and that’s something that he’s going to be getting used to right now, and that’s what we train for every day. He’s very young so he’s got a lot of time on his side.”

Asked if there is a danger that people might expect too much of the youngster too quickly, Friedel said: “I think the only danger is the people who have opinions on things – that’s the danger.

“For him, there’s no danger. He’s come in, he’s signed with a new club, Mauricio [Pochettino] is an excellent manager, Tottenham’s an excellent club and we’ve got a lot of excellent players. So he’s just going to become one of those and he’s going to train as hard as he can and then when Mauricio thinks he’s ready he’ll put him in a game.

“I think the people that expect or want or opinionate without actually being there day to day, those are probably more the dangers than anything else.”

While Yedlin has left the MLS, Friedel believes the move is a positive one for the American league and the US national team, as well as the player and his new club.

“It helps the MLS when experienced players like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Jermain Defoe move to the league,” he said.

“It’s also really good for the MLS when you have a couple of guys who are in their prime, like Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, going back into the league.

“Equally as important for the US national side – and we have a mix of players – is that some of the players play at the top clubs in Europe. I think it’s great for him [Yedlin], great for the club and equally great for US soccer.

“I’m sure some time down the road in his career he’ll probably look to go back to the MLS, and then he can bring the experience that he’s learned over here back there. So I think it’s a two-way street and the great thing is now the MLS isn’t going to be just a retirement area.

“It’s not as easy a league as people think now. You have to have some life in the legs to play over there – you do have to be athletic, as every team has athletes over there.

“The pace of the game isn’t what it is in England but there aren’t too many leagues out there that can compare in that area. Nor does the MLS have the over 100 years of tradition that the English leagues have. But I think it’s a great move for all concerned and now the talking really needs to stop. He just needs to get his head down and play and get on the pitch.”

‘Soccer’ grew in popularity in the USA during the World Cup, with Klinsmann’s side reaching the last 16 of the tournament in Brazil, and Friedel believes the interest will only increase.

“The MLS clubs are getting bigger and bigger, and MLS as a whole is getting bigger and bigger, so there are definite fanbases now,” he said.

“As far as the extent of the popularity during the World Cup is concerned, yes it’s died down a little bit but that’s because of the magnitude of what the World Cup brings.

“If the US has a home game I’m sure they’ll sell it out, wherever it is. Will you see people lining the streets for a friendly match? No. But it’s definitely on the Richter scale over there. I would day it’s surpassed NHL [ice hockey] in many ways, as far as popularity in the sport, and it’s moving in the right direction.

“There’s still a long way to go, there are still a lot of areas that we need to improve on, but the people that are in charge and the people that own the clubs are putting their money where their mouth is and they’re backing the sport, and I think it’s going to be there for a long, long time.

“It’s great to be associated with that because it hasn’t always been the case, especially when I was first starting out and there wasn’t a league in existence.”

Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs

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