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USMNT Daily Update: A look at the right back depth chart

Steve Cherundolo


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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:



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


  1. If you can’t dominate a Costa Rico team and put 5+ in the net, it won’t matter. That group needs to be scrapped and a new fresh look at our pool of talent.

  2. Chris Korb got an HM for LB, but he has been playing RB for DC this season. I think he’s better than at least half those HM guys. Give him a couple years, and if he gains some more consistency, he could easily be in the conversation. His energy on the field is way up there.

  3. Zach Lloyd should not be forgotten. He’s having an outstanding season for FC Dallas. He has matured in his understanding of the game but still manages to keep his indomitable motor churning away. I could see him moving overseas soon. He looks the part of a right back on a mid-table Prem side or maybe even a Bundesliga team. Keep an eye on Lloyd. He’s coming along well.

    • Didn’t forget about Loyd. I had him ninth on the list, but then swapped him for Chance Myers. Honestly, I could have put several of the Honorable Mention guys in the Top Ten. My thing on Loyd is Klinsmann took a look at him a year ago, brought him in, and hasn’t brought him back. Loyd’s doing well this year, but I’m not sure about the notion he’s been the league’s best right back.

    • love Josh Williams, but he’s just established himself after all. Perhaps if he grows a mohawk ‘fro and dyes it he’ll make his way up the list more quickly.

  4. I don’t understand why people enjoy hating on Chandler so much. He is more of a right winger than a right back. The lineup in June is probably something like this:


    • Because he was horrid in an important world cup qualifier. Sorry but you see the hate Johnny B. receives for his Gold Cup performance yet nothing he has ever done has sucked so horribly bad as Chandler’s performance in that game. Bornstein was solid in the 2010 WC but all that matters is one game against Mexico as a sub and he is done. Chandler, if he wasnt a product of the German system, would be off the list at this point. So many other deserve the chance that Frankendude was given and would deliver.

      • In Honduras every US player sucked. The only good thing anyone did all night was the assist by Jones and Dempsey’s goal.

        Every player gave arguably their US career worst performance.

        If you are telling me that game defines those players then JK is going to be very shorthanded going forward.

  5. Watching Cherundolo run circles around James Milner in the 2010 World Cup will be forever etched in my memory when I think of him. Please don’t slow down, Cherundolo!

  6. Yedlin’s game has problems that need fixing before we could consider minutes for him at rb on the usmnt.

    For me it is Cameron and Fabian both no1 at both rb and lb. My best guess is that Farrell and Dolo will be on the plane to Brazil but they need to prove out.

  7. I’ve never been a Chandler baiter, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him work to get back into the lineup. Agree that he shouldn’t be scape-goated for the Honduras game, but come on — you can’t just not show up for a World Cup qualifier. And while Cameron might not be the same modern fullback, at least he had the fortitude to handle Guardado in Azteca.

    • +1 Boggles my mind how some fans have anointed Timothy Chandler the Number One USMNT right back for the 50 years when he has only played two games in a US shirt the past 17 months. And in one of the games he was weak and against Honduras he was atrocious. If Klinsmann forsakes Cameron for Chandler there will be some justifiable grumbling in the USMNT locker room.

      And, quite frankly, I would not be surprised if Omar Gonzales would have some mixed feelings after Chandler banged up his knee in practice putting him on the injury list for 9 months. There id seem to be a distinct lack of chemistry between Chandler and Gonza in the Honduras game.

      • Chandler hasn’t even played at right back for his club in over a month. I’m not even sure he should be 3rd on the list while others are calling for him to start.

  8. Ives, how can Spector drop from being considered for the Mexico game to out of the top ten/honorable mention just because of injury while Dolo remains number 1 despite the injury? For the record, I agree with Dolo being number 1 and Cameron and Chandler being ahead of Spector in the pecking order but I would put Spector above Beltran, Myers, Beitashour and Yedlin. I think Spector is at par with either Parkhurst and Lichaj but Spector gets the nod because he is getting playing time with Birmingham.

    • Thanks, agree completely, now I don’t have to write all that. Spector has a lot of high level experience unmatched by any but Cherundolo.

  9. Hasn’t Orozco-fiscal been starting at right back? Considering he was called in as a replacement (admittedly a last second one based on his location), I’d think he would be in te discussion.

    • Based on reports here and elsewhere, he seems to have become the regular at his position for Puebla. That would seem to rate him above anyone in MLS as the level of play is better in League MX than MLS.

  10. Johnson/Castillo—Besler—Gonzalez—–Cameron

    I may be a minority I think it makes such a difference having both a left footed and a right footed CB pairing. It makes a big difference for a CB to tackle with his strong foot on the opposite side of the field. Same goes for opening up your body to the field and passing with your weaker foot. IMO

    • Amen, bro’ That is the back line. In the Mexico game we saw the future of the USMNT defense (with the great and wonderful DeMarcus Beasley filling in temporarily for Fabian Johnson/Edgar Castillo) and the future looked very bright. Anyone who watched the Mexico game and does not realize that Cameron is right back Number 2 behind dolo next to Gonza and then Besler need to put on sunglasses. Yep, the future is bright with…


    • Mr. Green,

      Maybe it’s just me but that is the sort of thing you worry about after you know whether these guys can actually play or not.

      • we’ll see. looked like a good pairing those two, Gonzo-Besler w/ Geoff’s muscle and athleticism and evolving game out right

  11. “With the extra tough part of qualifying out of the way with the US in a good position, its time to settle on a starting 11 and let them have as many games together as possible.”

    I hope no one in the USMNT setup is thinking like you.

    There is a ways to go yet before qualification is even close to being wrapped up.

    • I didn’t say we had qualifying wrapped up. I said we were in a good position. I am not advocating experimental mode. I am advocating picking starters who are likely to start in Brasil in the likley event that we get there.

      • Brazil is a year and a few months away in terms of setting a roster.
        That is an eternity in soccer terms. Lots of time for injuries, loss of form, etc., etc.

        It is possible that many of the US starters for Mexico/Costa Rica won’t be in Brazil even if they qualify.

        JK isn’t worried about that; he’ll pick guys who can win for you now.

      • bbum,

        Who are the 5-6 core group starters? At the beginning of the HEX it would have been Bradley, Howard,Jones, Boca, Gomez.

        Now the ones left over from that group are Bradley, Jones, Gomez

        And, given their ages, are you so sure Gomez and Jones will be in great form a year and few months from now should the US make it to Brazil?

  12. I still think Chandler is the best option at RB. The Honduras game was an aberration. I’m very impressed with Yedlin after seeing him in SJ and CCL.

    • How do you know it was an aberration, chris thebassplayer? He also played poorly in the Russia friendly. I really can’t think of any good games he’s had in a US shirt for the past 17 months.

      P.S. Where is my 25 cents?

  13. Dolo shoudn’t be #1 because he isn’t the most likely #1 next June. With the extra tough part of qualifying out of the way with the US in a good position, its time to settle on a starting 11 and let them have as many games together as possible. The Chndler/Cameron debate probably hinges on how defensive Klinsman wants to be in a given moment and whether Klinsman sees either as a starter in a different spot. Me? Chandler is the right back, Dolo stays as his backup for now, and Cameron is a starting central defender or solid defensive sub.

    • May I respectfully say, I think you’re nuts. When the chips were down last fall, ‘Dolo was the best player on the pitch. If he makes a full recovery, he’s still one of the very best US players.

      Let’s extend this line of thinking a little bit. Should Italy drop Pirlo? He and Dolo are the same age….

      • +1. If this guy were a midfielder or strike we’d be building statues of him for being one of the greatest American field players to play overseas, arguable the most successful defender we’ve produced. Juts don’t get why this guy can’t get the respect he deserves.

      • Good point. He’s been starting in the Bundesliga for about 10 years now, a really phenomenal record for any defender from any country.

  14. I think the inclusion of Chance Myers on this list is good from Ives.

    I think he gets a good look from Klinsmann one of these days.

    He’s easily the most consistent RB I’ve seen in MLS.

  15. Geoff Cameron plays RB against some of the better players in the world, weekly. I’ve seen him stop some of the best forwards and midfielders in the business, and he can play out of the back better then most people on this list. He can get forward very quickly, with his only weakness is his crossing can sometimes be a bit off. Defensively, I can’t see too many players being above him in the depth chart, unless he is assigned to be a CB. He is too seasoned, and calm to pass up.

    • Cameron is the USMNT’s version of Man U’s Phil Jones, a center half by trade who can play just about anywhere in a pinch.

      You are right about his crossing. Unfortunately that is a very vital part of a right back’s arsenal, especially if you are talking about a team used to having Dolo as part of their attacking scheme.

      I don’t see him as a fulltime right back starter unless the US goes to any formation with three in the back. Then his mobility becomes a real asset.

      • he could be an ideal RB for this team IF the USMNT plays a system so LD or like player dominates a true wide midfield poistion, in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2, which we’ve seen a bit more of from Coach

    • you sound like a Dynamo fan, you described him very well. he can chip godo crosses if he is near the box but long crosses is definitely not his strengh.

    • I can’t take Ives’ list seriously if Loyd isn’t in the top 10. He’s been The best RB in MLS so far this season – after a subpar 2012 he looks to be returning to the form that earned him his several national team call ups. he’s an incredible athlete with a CM’s touch and he gets forward exceptionally well.

    • agree with that list. Yedlin’s talent recently (didnt notice it in the games I saw him play for Akron) however, is jaw-dropping as ives said

  16. It’s seriously about time everyone stop calling for Eric Lichaj. Nobody has even seen him play in half a year.

    And the “he showed well in a match once” argument is silly. Bornstein showed well in matches too. Adu showed amazing in matches. Buddle showed well in the Australia match.

    • Valid point. Lichaj needs to move this summer if he ever wants to be in the USMNT convo. Right now I don’t even think he makes the Gold Cup team to be honest.

    • I have to disagree with your argument a bit regarding Lichaj
      1) When he was playing last year w/ AV he was clearly a top 3 back in our pool @
      both RB & LB. A year later he’s slid to # 6, but he still has ability & potential
      Just missing consistency and experience.
      2) Has shown that he can play/compete with the NT level within CONCACAF based
      on his run of games in the 2011 GC, where he was one of our better defenders.
      3) Comparing him to Bornstein is harsh…especially in that he’s not listed as the # 1
      RB….or even the 5th option. Bornstein was bad….but was deemed our # 1 LB,
      strictly because we had no-one better and his compition was even worse than
      he was (H. Pearce, Spector, & What’s his name in the English 3rd division) or
      was used in another position due to injury/need (Boca as CB).
      Basically no-one is calling Lichaj to replace Dolo, Chandler, Cameron…but to dismiss him out of the top half of our depth chart is very short sighted.

      • “dismiss him out of the top half of our depth chart is very short sighted.”

        I don’t think anyone is seriously dismissing Lichaj.

        It’s just that there seem to be a lot of people calling for JK to make the first move and call him up to “give him a chance” or to “see where he is at”.

        I think that makes little sense. There are a number of players in front of Lichaj who have earned the right to more attention from the USMNT staff. It’s on Lichaj to show the US why they should bother to call in a guy who can’t get off his team’s bench. It’s all up to Eric.

        These situations are always best dealt with on a case by case basis.

        For example, Gooch can’t get on the field for Malaga either but he is being blocked by DeMichelis and Sanchez, a center back pairing that may well be among the hottest and best in the business at the moment. Malaga seem to be keeping Gooch around as cover. This means they think he can play somewhere near D & S’ level since you don’t usually keep insurance around that does not work.

        Plus, Gooch has a much more substantial resume with the USMNT than Eric ever did and until Besler and Gonzo showed well, CB was very much a position of need and may still be. By comparison, right back is not a position of need.

        If Gooch can somehow get a run of games and shows well then I think JK might well call him in.

        Now if Lichaj fights his way onto the field for Villa and gets a run of games or gets transferred and starts to play well then fine maybe someone will call him in.

        After all, JK is telling Donovan to prove he is fit and in form before JK will consider calling him in.

        If that is the standard for LD, arguably the best American player around when healthy and in form, why would it be any less stringent for Eric?

      • My only concern is the fact that last time we saw Gooch play under GK he looked like a drunk giraffe on roller skates…

      • Maybe.

        Anyone can have a bad game but explain to me why the people at Malaga, a pretty good team, keep paying Gooch good money to back up maybe the best center half pair in Europe if he can’t play?

      • because if its a cup game tied in the 85th minute you can put him in at striker and pelt him with crosses hoping he gets one in the net.

      • You SOB, I said elephant on ice skates last time GW tried to make Gooch out to be Pique and you go and change animals, footwear, AND add in booze. Nicely done, Sir.

      • The reason Lichaj isn’t playing for Villa, which has a really bad defense, is that when he did play he looked really bad. He was beaten consistently. I was hoping to see him play well, but I concluded he was a big disappointment, an opinion which seems to be shared by his manager, Paul Lambert, since he has kept him on the bench even when they had some injuries in the back recently.

    • if you only think ‘he showed well in a match once’, you haven’t been watching; and if that’s the case, you probably shouldn’t be telling people what to think about him.

      that said, he needs to get out of aston villa, and go ANYWHERE where he will get minutes.

  17. Has Yedlin even played 10 professional games yet? Are we getting a bit ahead of ourselves here? People always mock American fans because we are constantly hyping young players as the next big thing when they are usually just the flavor of the week. As the #1 source of soccer info to many American fans you’re kind of feeding into that by including this kid. Is he just thrown in at #10 as a token to create conversation? Am I falling into that trap as I type this? He obviously has potential, but surely there are any number of experienced players who would be above him despite the potential.


    • There is something to be said for being too young and naïve to know any better.

      That is what you had when Arena played LD and DMB in the 2002 World Cup.
      Of course LD was a phenom and Arena was right when he said he didn’t know where to play him because he could play anywhere But then timing is everything. If the Juan Agudelo who showed up in his first few US games had shown up just before the 2010 WC, he might have gone instead of Findley, Buddle or Gomez and then who knows what would have happened?

      I’ve only watched Yedlin in these CCL games and based on those games, he’s good but I don’t see him as a “phenom”. There is a whole MLS season yet to get through, I’m betting JK will wait on him especially since right back isn’t exactly a position of need.

      • My point is that this a 19 year old kid who is less than 10 games into his professional career. We do not know how good he really is. He clearly has some talent and potential, but I think we are, once again, jumping the gun on yet another promising young guy by including him in national team conversations. All this does is add pressure and impossible expectations. Its not in his best interest to do this. Like you said, this isn’t some phenom who is forcing his way into the conversation through incredible displays. He is just a kid who is better than his peers at his age

      • I think he’s better than just a “kid above his peers”. He is starting in MLS and CCL games. I get it that its only 10 games but isn’t that the time to spot talent and bring them into camps to prepare for international competition? He’ll probably go to Turkey with the U20s which is exactly where he should be going to continue his development and get international experience. Way too early for an “A” or “B” squad call-up.

      • I think it’s safe to say that Santos Laguna is better than any MLS team, and Yedlin did very well against them, so one could argue that that was a better test than he will get in MLS. Ergo, he has a lot of promise.

  18. I think 8, 9 and 10 will move up the list quickly, and that Yedlin may top it by WC 2018.

    I like Cameron more at RB than CB, where I think fans gave him too generous a pass.

  19. Honestly I don’t think Cameron is going to stay at RB for Klinsmann. More than likely Cameron will be moved back to LCB.

    I think Cameron will be an option at RB if Dolo and Chandler are injured.

    Chandler is still #2 in my mind. I know he is playing RM for Nuremberg now, but he has stated recently that he would prefer to play RB. While Cameron may be a better defender; Chandler is a better overall RB.

    • And really you can’t call out any one player defensively against Honduras. The entire back line had many issues as a unit in that game.

    • I agree. Cameron is not a Klinsi RB because he offers very little offensively and he can’t dribble. His size, currently, makes him the better defender, but Klinsi wants to attack.

      Also, couldn’t Fabian play RB? I’d rather him him than anyone outside of the top three.

      • Josh D.

        You could make a case for this listing:

        1 Dolo
        2 Fabian
        3 Everyone else

        Fabian was a right back and right sided holding midfielder before Hoffenheim and the US shifted him to left back.

        It depends on if and when Donovan comes back into the lineup.

        Donovan and Dolo behind him on the right do very well together
        Or they could lineup LD on the left and see how Fabian and Donovan do there. In any event a healthy Dolo, Fabian and LD give JK a lot of options

      • Does Klinsmann want to attack? I can remember some line ups with 3 defensive midfielders that didn’t really seem like he was too worried about attacking. Does anyone really know what Klinsmann wants to do?

      • At this point, JK isn’t overly concerned about the offense.

        A lot of people seem to pigeonhole players as just an attacker or a defender. A fundamentally good soccer play should be able to do both. As soon as you lose the ball you are a defender. When you get the ball back you are an attacker. It really is that simple.

        Jones and Bradley have shown they are quite adept at attacking and defending. There are other US midfielders, such as Benny, who do have supposedly more of an offensive slant, but as a soccer player he is inferior to Bradley and Jones.

        The USMNT is at the point where they are still sorting out their defense.

        Eventually the back four will stabilize. This will then take the pressure off of the midfield who can then maybe feel free to support Jozy once in a while. Donovan and Dolo may get back and then maybe the US can stop relying on Dempsey coming up with goals out of nothing.

      • Cameron can dribble. He played midfield for the Dynamo and in college. Kinnear put him at defense his 2nd to last year for the Dynamo and he did VERY WELL so he kept that position. When have you seen him not be able to dribble?

  20. It’s a pretty good list. The only thing I disagree with at the the moment is swapping Chandler and Cameron. I think that Chandler starts at RB ahead of Cameron if both were available for Costa Rica and Mexico, and I think it could remain that way going forward.

    However, that being said, if Chandler continues to be be trotted out as a Right Winger for FCN and Cameron continues at RB for Stoke, then that can obvious change. If nothing else, it is a fluid situation. I just think that if Cameron and Chandler are both available, Chandler gets the RB nod and Cameron goes to CB.

    This is just semantics of course–Dolo is still the man if fit.

    • I agree that Chandler would have started before Cameron, but after the two games I’d put Cameron ahead of Chandler. Some one getting hurt really helps and hurts players USMNT careers

      • Ives- how could use Chandler’s recent form to lower him and at the same time not lower Cherundolo since he’s hardly playing due to injury. Granted Chandler played poorly in Honduras, but so did the whole US team. He has played very well in other games for the US, and has the exact qualities that the US needs. I’d put Chandler at 1) and Cherundolo at 3) which is generous given his health. And I say this as someone who is a huge fan of what Cherundolo has accomplished- probably the most underappreciated NATS standout in recent memory.

      • Danny, I never had chandler over Cherundolo, and Cameron has spent most of his season starting in the Premier League at right back so his stock jumped. THAT is why Chandler is third, NOT because of one bad game in Honduras.

      • Neither one played particularly well but I still say Chandler because he has intangibles that Cameron doesn’t. Plus Geoff is a much better CB and should remain as such regardless of where he plays for Stoke.

      • That is a very vague statement, Tyler. Would you care to explain what intangibles Chandler has that Cameron doesn’t that make Chandler a better bet at right back?

      • Language biff. Chandler speaks German which would be useful during European friendlies. Meanwhile, Cameron speaks English and only a tourist quality Spanglish, which can be offensive to some Latin referees. And he has too many tattoos.

      • 1 Speed
        2 Overlapping Runs (for Additional Width/Attacking Option)
        3 Crossing
        4 One v One defending (slight edge)

        Do you need more?

    • I never subscribed that JK would call up a B-Squad to begin with for this years Gold Cup. However, now that the rules have been changed to make “every Gold Cup count” leads me to believe we may call up a strong unit.

      I think now is the time for consistency, not experimenting.

      • The B squad for the Gold Cup idea probably died when the US failed to qualify for the 2013 Confederations Cup.

      • Recent changes to the format also ensure that Klinnsman will send the strongest squad possible to the Gold Cup.

      • Barklage is quicker, more skilled and tougher than most of the names on the list. Depth at the position? It’s a list of shaky defenders with holes in their games!

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