DOHA - As the only player on the United States roster with any World Cup experience DeAndre Yedlin has been a man in demand around the American locker room as the team prepare to take on Wales in their tournament opener.
With the U.S. having failed to qualify for the 2018 showcase tournament in Russia coach Gregg Berhalter did not have a large pool of experience to dip into.
A promising 20-year-old when he made his U.S. World Cup debut in 2014, Yedlin returns a harden veteran on a squad that is among the youngest in Qatar. While the Inter Miami defender has been willing to share any wisdom he can with his teammates, he noted that the lack of a World Cup resume does not translate into a shortage of big-game experience.
"Obviously, this team is a lot younger and nobody in this group has World Cup experience but a lot of have experience at huge tournaments around the world," Yedlin told reporters ahead of evening practice session on Thursday. "A lot of these guys have experience in very big games. It's been great to come in and help be a leader on this team."
While Yedlin's role is usually coming off the bench, Berhalter has described him as "a glue guy," the type capable of holding a team together. Yedlin, 29, is not the oldest member of the U.S. squad but his World Cup experience makes him unique and a magnet for players like Leeds forward Tyler Adams.
"There is a queue of questions that people have for DeAndre considering he is the only one with World Cup experience," Adams said. "From the perspective of the role he plays on the team he is such and important person to have around. The way he trains every day, brings the right mentality he's an amazing professional."
Yedlin said if there is one piece of advice he could pass along it is reminding his teammates to stay in moment.
"I've told them it is really hard to explain the experience, it's a personal thing," said Yedlin. "Everyone has different experiences. I can tell them that when I was young I went in and didn't know what to expect just took it for what it is and try to stay present. It's a journey, it's an experience they'll remember for the rest of their lives."
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Doha, Editing by Ed Osmond)