Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
When Geoff Cameron turned in a pair of strong performances at right back in last month’s World Cup qualifiers, one of the deeper positions on the U.S. Men’s National Team became even deeper.
You might not think right back is all that deep, especially considering Cameron was thrust into the position last month, but it took a rash of injuries to have Klinsmann play Cameron at the position he actually plays regularly for Stoke City. Steve Cherundolo, Timmy Chandler and Jonathan Spector were all in line to be called up, but all three were injured. Michael Parkhurst is another option, but he hadn’t been playing for Augusburg.
When healthy, that group, along with Cameron, give the U.S. as strong a stable of right backs as the national team has ever had. And not only are there some quality options now, there are some very strong young prospects working their way up the ladder. DeAndre Yedlin (19) and Andrew Farrell (21) have been two of the best rookies in MLS this season and both look like they have the talent to eventually have their names near the top of this list.
So what does the right back depth chart look like? Here is a closer look at U.S. Men’s National Team’s options at right back:
USMNT RIGHT BACK DEPTH CHART
1. STEVE CHERUNDOLO
So why is a 34-year-old coming off an injury at the top of the list? It’s simple. He’s still the most complete right back in the pool. He combines defending with attacking better than any of the other players on this list, and while slowing down is to be expected, and he might still wind up fading into the sunset for the 2014 World Cup, but if he is healthy come June it is a safe bet he will still be starting for the USMNT.
2. GEOFF CAMERON
Though you can argue he stands a better chance than Cherundolo of starting at right back in the 2014 World Cup, Cameron stands in at No. 2 because he isn’t quite the attacking threat Cherundolo is (and because he still stands a good chance of remaining a regular starting centerback. He is athletic and quick enough to deal with defensive responsiblities, though he did struggle at times in the recent qualifiers.
3. TIM CHANDLER
There was a time not too long ago when many people would have put Chandler at the top of this list, but after his delay in committing to the senior team, and his forgettable performance against Honduras, Chandler’s stock has dropped. The reality is he still very much a quality prospect and starting option for Klinsmann. He combines defending and attacking well and his speed is a major plus.
4. MICHAEL PARKHURST
The fact he wasn’t called in for the March qualifiers makes it clear that his shaky standing at German club Augsburg has hurt his USMNT standing but it is tough to see him not still factoring into Klinsmann’s summer plans.
5. TONY BELTRAN
Being called up for the March qualifiers shows that Beltran is in good standing, though he didn’t exactly impress in the friendly vs. Canada in January. He gets forward well, but defensively he seems like a liability on the international level.
6. ERIC LICHAJ
He has been glued to the bench at Aston Villa, and Jurgen Klinsmann has yet to call him in, but it is tough to deny the fact that Lichaj has to be on this list and deserves national team consideration. He showed well with the USMNT under Bob Bradley, and last year he enjoyed a good stint starting at left back for Aston Villa, but he might need to make a transfer move this summer to revive his national team chances. That said, you would think he could get a Gold Cup call-up even with his lack of club playing time.
8. STEVEN BEITASHOUR
The San Jose Earthquakes defender was sidelined by injury in January’s USMNT camp, but he’s a player that Klinsmann clearly rates. He combines attacking and defending well, but he has yet to be healthy in the 2013 MLS season. He could wind up being the odd man out this summer unless he really tears it up when he returns.
9. CHANCE MYERS
The Sporting KC fullback doesn’t get much national team consideration when the topic of UMSNT prospects come up, but he has the characteristics of a legitimate prospects. He gets forward well, and has the quickness to handle the defensive responsibilities of the position. Playing in Sporting KC’s system should also help his chances of impressing Klinsmann.
10. DEANDRE YEDLIN
The hottest prospect at the position in the entire pool, Yedlin’s ability to make a seamless transition from college to the pros has turned heads and the 19-year old has all the makings of a big-time USMNT prospect. Some of the other right backs listed below are arguably more USMNT ready right now, but Yedlin makes the Top 10 for his jaw-dropping potential.
Zach Loyd, Alfredo Morales, Andrew Farrell, A.J. De La Garza, Sean Franklin, Josh Williams, Kofi Sarkodie, Sheanon Williams, Jonathan Spector.
What do you think of the list? Who would you start in the June qualifiers? Do you think any of the players are rated to highly? Who didn’t make the cut that you feel should be in the Top 10?
Share your thoughts below.