Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By IVES GALARCEP
The left back position has long been a source of angst and disappointment for the U.S. Men’s National Team, but when Fabian Johnson committed to the U.S., it seemed as though the position might finally be one of strength.
All it took was a Johnson injury just before the March qualifiers for left back to once again be a shaky position. At least before DaMarcus Beasley stepped in and proved to be an admirable temporary replacement.
So where does the position stand now? Johnson remains the top choice, while Edgar Castillo continues to improve with Club Tijuana. With Beasley looking like an option, and Timmy Chandler also capable of playing the position, maybe left back isn’t in such bad shape after all.
Wondering just how deep the position is? Here is a closer look at the U.S. National team’s depth chart:
USMNT LEFT BACK DEPTH CHART
1. FABIAN JOHNSON
The clear-cut first-choice left back. While there are some who wonder if he might not be the team’s best left wing option as well, it is tough to see Klinsmann moving him anywhere considering how good he is at left back.
2. TIMMY CHANDLER
Some might forget he looked very good at left back a year ago, but with Geoff Cameron looking like a strong right back option, and Steve Cherundolo still in the mix, perhaps we shouldn’t rule out Chandler at left back, particularly if anything happened to Johnson or if Klinsmann finally gave in and tried Johnson out as a winger.
3. EDGAR CASTILLO
His move to Club Tijuana has really helped his career take off, and he has played a key role in the team’s considerable success. There are still questions about his defensive qualities, but his attacking qualities are undeniable.
4. DAMARCUS BEASLEY
Not many would have included Beasley on this list at all, let alone as high as this. But after his impressive showing in recent World Cup qualifiers at the position you have to wonder whether this might be too low a rating. Realistically though, what Beasley certainly did was boost his standing as a utility option, with the versatility to play left back or left wing.
5. JUSTIN MORROW
One of the keys to San Jose’s success in 2012, Morrow is arguably the best left back in MLS. He had mixed results in his start vs. Canada in January, but showed some good qualities that gave Klinsmann enough confidence to bring him in as a back-up for the recent qualifiers.
6. MICHAEL PARKHURST
A natural right back, Parkhurst took a starting turn at left back in last year’s World Cup qualifying win vs. Guatemala. The issue with Parkhurst now is his lack of playing time, which is why he isn’t higher on this list.
7. JONATHAN SPECTOR
It seems like ages ago since he was struggling mightily as a left back for West Ham, but he remains a player Klinsmann has his eye on, and if not for a recent injury just before the March qualifiers, Spector just might have been called upon to play left back.
8. ERIC LICHAJ
A year ago Lichaj was getting starts for Aston Villa and looking like a very good young left back prospect. Now, he’s buried on the bench and is even further away from catching Klinsmann’s attention. For me he should be higher on this list, but given Klinsmann’s seeming disinterest, it’s tough to put him any higher. In an ideal world, Lichaj would get a look in the Gold Cup, but he may need to make a transfer move and get regular playing time before Klinsmann takes a serious look.
9. HEATH PEARCE
You might consider him a bit of a blast from the past, but after a lengthy run in MLS as a centerback, Pearce is back playing left back regularly and if he he continues there for the New York Red Bulls he will work his way back onto the radar.
10. TODD DUNIVANT
There is no denying that Dunivant is one of the best left backs in MLS, and has been for several years. So why isn’t he higher on the list? His age (32) and relative lack of pace are two big strikes against him. He still makes the list though because he’s still one of the league’s best.
Seth Sinovic, Chris Korb, Greg Garza, Jorge Villafana, Chris Wingert, Kevin Alston.
What do you think of the Left Back depth chart? Confident in Fabian Johnson’s ability to hold down the position? Who would you start there in June? Did you like what you saw from Beasley?
Share your thoughts below.