When DeAndre Yedlin’s name was slotted into the Sunderland team sheet earlier this season, it was largely handled as matter-of-fact news by the Makems. The fact that Yedlin is American was more interesting stateside than Wearside.
After all, U.S. internationals Claudio Reyna and Jozy Altidore had already worn the red and white strip. Dozens of other Yanks paved the way for Yedlin. Going back a generation there had been McBride and Dempsey and Hahnemann, before that Moore and Harkes and Friedel, with Kasey Keller breaking ground as Millwall’s first-choice keeper in 1992.
Maybe, just maybe, those once-startling signings were made a bit more palatable for the partisans of Millwall, Fulham, Spurs and Sunderland by preseason visits of an American club virtually unheard-of in the U.S., let alone in Britain.
Unlike Any Other
When FC Seattle landed in London, they were unlike any U.S. touring club before or since. Lamar Hunt’s Dallas Tornado had globe-trotted to announce the NASL’s existence in the Sixties. Warner Communications cashed in on the worldwide popularity of Pele´ in the Seventies, much like the Galaxy selling Beckham shirts more recently. In the Eighties, the San Jose Earthquakes accompanied George Best on his farewell tour of Britain, and other NASL clubs paid preseason or postseason visits.