DeAndre Yedlin substitution pays off for U.S.

Martin Rogers
Yahoo Sports

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SAO PAULO – It takes Cristiano Ronaldo about 34 hours to earn what the newest star of the United States men's national team makes in a year.

DeAndre Yedlin made his World Cup debut on Sunday, coming on as a second-half substitute against Portugal and setting up the second U.S. goal in a thrilling 2-2 draw at Arena da Amazonia.

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Yedlin is one of the lowest-paid players in the tournament, earning just $92,000 a year with the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer. That's the kind of money you would expect for a pretty decent software engineer, not someone performing in front of a global audience in soccer's grandest show.

On the other end of the salary spectrum, Ronaldo rakes in a mind-boggling $24.2 million per season with Real Madrid and a whole lot more thanks to a myriad of endorsement deals. But after having been a shock call-up to Jurgen Klinsmann's 23-man roster and an even more surprising substitution in Manaus, money is the last thing on the 20-year-old's mind right now.

"I was just excited," Yedlin said as he looked back on his first taste of World Cup action. "This is the biggest stage. This is what every soccer player dreams of and those dreams were being made a reality, so it was pretty amazing. It's one of those times that you just have to calm yourself because if you're too excited, too hyped up, that's when you don't play as well."

Yedlin used his speed to blaze down the right flank with nine minutes to go before aiming an accurate cross to Michael Bradley. Bradley's pass found Graham Zusi, whose chip was bundled over the line by captain Clint Dempsey.

Even later on, once the devastating blow of Silvestre Varela's equalizer had stunned the Americans, Yedlin broke clear and was sprinting toward goal when the referee blew the final whistle.

"We have DeAndre in our group for a reason," Klinsmann said. "He has the qualities to make an impact in the game right now in this World Cup, which he did. We knew it. That's why he is here."

Klinsmann's selections for the World Cup were heavily scrutinized and widely criticized. He was accused of putting too much faith in youth, leaving Landon Donovan out of the picture and including only five players who had previously seen World Cup action. Yedlin and Julian Green, the 19-year-old from Bayern Munich, were among the choices that were seen as most controversial.

Drafted by the Sounders in early 2013, Yedlin was still raw enough that he was forced to give up his playing number (No. 2) when Dempsey joined the club later that year and was given his favorite digit. However, Klinsmann had a game plan for Portugal that revolved around pace, and few U.S. players have as much speed as Yedlin.

[Related: U.S. battle malaise of playing in Manaus ]

With fatigue bound to be a factor against Germany in Recife on Thursday, the youngster is certainly in contention to be included off the bench again, especially after his calm-headed display on Sunday.

"I don't think anybody's too young to be nervous unless you really don't know what's going on," Yedlin said. "To be honest, I think the younger you are the more nervous you could get because there's that age barrier between you and your opponent no matter what you do.

"I definitely was nervous. I think there's something wrong if you're not, if you don't have a little bit of butterflies in there. It's all about getting comfortable on the field and seeing how you react."

Expect to see more of Yedlin, who could prove to be worth his weight in gold for the U.S. no matter what his paycheck says.

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