NEWCASTLE, England -- DeAndre Yedlin has told ESPN FC that he is proud of the way U.S. fans reacted toward the team after its shock failure to qualify for the World Cup, even though much of the response was extremely negative toward the squad.
The Newcastle full-back said the "disappointed and confused" response to the disastrous 2-1 defeat to Trinidad & Tobago in October showed fans care about American football, which, he feels, is exactly what the country needs.
Yedlin also supported his former Tottenham teammate Harry Kane, who has accused English fans and media of having a "weak mentality" and wanting the national team to fail following criticism aimed at himself and his England teammates.
"Obviously everyone gets criticism -- that's life, that's just the way it is and not just in sport," Yedlin said, when asked about Kane's comments. "But as a supporter, your role is to support.
"Straight from the get-go, you shouldn't be speaking negatively about players and speaking negatively about the team. I understand if you're disappointed about certain things but at the end of the day you're a supporter of the team and you should be supporting them.
"In the U.S., I haven't experienced anything bad except after [failing to qualify for] the World Cup," he added. "After that, I got what you'd expect. People were disappointed. People were confused.
"It was more on social media than in person. But you expect that and it shows they care. I'm proud -- not that we didn't make it to the World Cup -- but I'm proud they showed that kind of reaction. It shows they're interested in it, they care, they're invested in it and that's what we need in America help grow the sport."
The defeat to Trinidad -- along with Mexico's victory over Honduras and Panama's late winner against Costa Rica -- pushed the U.S. out of fourth place in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, ensuring they will miss a first finals since 1986.
Now the dust has settled on that devastating night in Couva, Yedlin believes the U.S. were simply complacent against the island nation they are accustomed to beating.
He said watching this summer's World Cup would be painful, before throwing his support behind his country's joint bid with Mexico and Canada for the 2026 tournament.
"I don't think we were on our game [against Trinidad]," Yedlin said. "We all thought that the chances of us not going through were so slim that we could do whatever we wanted.
"Obviously that wasn't the case. Some other things happened that we couldn't control in other games. You could say it was unlucky but in the end it was down to us. We didn't do the job and ended up paying the ultimate price for it.
"I'll definitely watch the World Cup. It'll hurt, for sure, but I love the sport so it's not like I'll kick it off. It's the World Cup, the biggest event in football, so obviously to not be there hurts but I still have friends and teammates playing in it that I'll be supporting, so I'm excited to see them play.
"I'll tend to watch the game with guys I know that are playing, but I'm not going to watch every single game.
"It'll be great to have it in America [in 2026] -- not only for the players to have a World Cup in their own country but for the country to help build the sport. It's a sport growing rapidly in America and, although it's hard to see it from over here, being there and speaking with people like ex-teammates, they say it's unbelievable how quickly it's growing.
"It'll be great for the country to help raise the attention to football -- or soccer -- in the U.S."
The U.S. national team is still without a permanent coach following Bruce Arena's resignation in the aftermath of the Trinidad defeat, with interim boss Dave Sarachan set to continue until the end of June, taking charge of the friendlies against Bolivia, Ireland and France.
Having worked under both Jurgen Klinsmann and Arena, 50-cap Yedlin is aware of the positives that both foreign and American coaches can bring to the role.
"With foreign coaches, it's no secret that the leagues over here -- Germany, Spain, Italy -- and cultures have been around for a while," he said. "Historically, they know the game and they have different ideas of the game.
"An American coach will usually be coaching in MLS, so the good thing is they'll know most of the players they're working with and bring the culture of an American as well.
"The stereotype we get is that we're hard-working, blue collar -- and that's exactly right. We're a hard working team that tries to put in a shift every game."