As soon as DeAndre Yedlin initiated the slightly-difficult fake-shot trick just 30 seconds into our virtual match, it became obvious that I was facing off against an experienced FIFA 14 gamer. This was going to be fun.
Thanks to Golazo and a massive truck filled with gaming consoles, we had the sweet opportunity this past Friday to see if professional soccer players are as good on the sticks as they are on the pitch.
Turns out, at least in Yedlin’s case, that this is true.
The Sounders FC star, who just returned from an impressive inaugural performance for the U.S national team at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, spent a few hours this past Friday evening playing EA Sports’ FIFA video game with a few lucky soccer fans who won a “Play With DeAndre” contest put on by Golazo.
The Seattle-based energy drink company sent a Game Truck over to the contest winner’s house 20 minutes south of downtown Seattle, where Yedlin was already engaged in a match when I showed up after slithering through rush hour traffic.
A few minutes later, I plopped myself down on a leather couch inside the carpeted truck, which was loaded with five flatscreen TVs, an array of consoles — PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 — and of course some Golazo to keep us hydrated.
We decided to use the 360 and agreed to play with club teams. Yedlin immediately opted for Liverpool, while I went with Tottenham — a squad that Yedlin’s Sounders played against in Seattle earlier this month. I contemplated using AS Roma, an Italian club rumored to have signed Yedlin, but decided not to.
As our game loaded, I asked the 21-year-old about the intersection of technology and soccer. Yedlin, a Seattle native, noted how Sounders players use heart rate monitors and GPS trackers.
“It definitely helps, and especially for me as a right back,” Yedlin said of the technology. “For example, if I’m getting caught higher up on the field too much, the trackers can see that.”
But then our match started, and it became apparent that conducting an interview while playing a competitive FIFA game probably wasn’t ideal. While I wanted to ask Yedlin about his laptop preference (Mac) and favorite console platform (Xbox), our attention was totally on the game. It was clear from the get-go that we were both serious about winning.
Yedlin struck first just before halftime off a sweet header, giving Liverpool the early 1-0 advantage. We had a chance to relax a bit after the first 45 minutes were up, and I wondered if Yedlin had ever played as himself in FIFA.
“Yeah, it was weird at first,” he said. “But not so much now.”
“I’ve always been an iPhone guy,” he told me. “I tried Android once and it was lame. The iPhone is just a lot simpler.”
Two minutes later, I tied up the match with an equalizer from Tottenham striker Roberto Soldado. Perhaps all my questions were distracting Yedlin from concentrating on the game.
Regardless, we had ourselves a little battle.
“Here we go,” Yedlin said as he straightened up in his seat, increasing his level of focus.
I also became more engaged after realizing how cool it would be to say that I beat DeAndre Yedlin at FIFA.
Soon enough, Tottenham went ahead 2-1 with another goal in the 71st minute, and I poured it on with another strike in the 87th minute. Yedlin scored one more in the 90th minute to cut my lead to 3-2, but it was too little, too late.
The final whistle blew, and someone recommended that I take a picture of the score as proof that I beat a World Cup star at FIFA.
“Nah, we don’t need a picture of that one,” Yedlin joked. “This was just a warm up.”
It’s unclear what separates a “warm-up” FIFA match from an authentic one. Perhaps Yedlin and I need to duke it out in a more formal stage to really prove who has the upper hand at FIFA.
Rematch whenever you’re ready, DeAndre.
Are you coming to Sounders Day? Join us for a pre-game tailgate with great food and beer on the wonderful rooftop deck of EMC/Isilon before we head to the Sounders match at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday, August 20, 2014. Get your tickets here.