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SBI Question of the Day: Who should USMNT start at right back vs. Ecuador?

Photo by Sean Pokorny/USA Today Sports
Photo by Sean Pokorny/USA Today Sports

Consistency was something the U.S. Men’s National Team had long sought coming into this summer’s Copa America Centenario.

That was until Jurgen Klinsmann’s side found a squad of 11 players that┬áseemed to be clicking with one another, sending the U.S. through to the tournament’s quarterfinals. The only issue: DeAndre Yedlin’s early second half red card against Paraguay leaves the team with a conundrum at right back.

While Michael Orozco defended admirably when called upon during Saturday night’s 1-0 win against the CONMEBOL nation, Klinsmann is left with a choice that he must consider fully before naming a replacement for Yedlin.

Orozco will be the first name that comes to people’s minds based on his natural fit at right back, where he primarily played for with Liga MX side Club Tijuana last season. However, the U.S. does have other options to consider, although several of the scenarios would force Klinsmann to shake up other areas┬ádefensively.

Versatile defender/midfielder Fabian Johnson started all three Group A matches at left back for the USMNT, further proving that he can succeed as an outside back. His pace and strong technical ability allow him to get forward when the side is in the attack, while also serving as a stout defensive option when the U.S. is behind the ball.

Johnson could potentially slot in at right back, but then the team would have to find a replacement at left back. In that case, Edgar Castillo would be the likely replacement, although Klinsmann’s pre-Copa America tinkering with Matt Besler at left back could also make him a possibility.

The Sporting Kansas City centerback isn’t an ideal option to play out wide, particularly against a dangerously quick team like Ecuador, but Besler’s experience for both club and country could justify his inclusion in the starting XI.

Finally, Klinsmann could opt to start Geoff Cameron at outside back, despite playing every minute of the group stage alongside John Brooks. Cameron has played all over the field for the U.S. throughout his national team career, so this choice isn’t far-fetched. The biggest issue with the Stoke City defender sliding out wide would be breaking up the budding partnership that he and Brooks have developed.

In the event that Cameron does go to right back, Klinsmann would have to insert D.C. United centerback Steve Birnbaum into the starting squad to pair with Brooks.

SBI wants to know your opinion: Who do you believe should start for the USMNT at right back on Thursday night? Will Yedlin’s suspension cost the U.S. a spot in the semifinals?

Share your thoughts below.


    • With this set up you can also have Zardes help out the LB if necessary as he has speed and the willingness tow work hard on defense.

      • And Valencia is on the right, while fast he wont create as many problems with the ball at his feet going at people in and around the box like Montero. Valencia for the most part is a straight ahead burner with a defensive background looking to get crosses in.

  1. We have a back 4 that has been the strong point of this team as of late- is finally congealing. I think you leave as much of what is working intact. Orozco is a capable stay home FB, JJ will likely cheat to that side. As was going to be the case w/ Yedlin- especially if he was to bomb forward- team defense wins the day- not rearranging everything you’ve been doing to account for one opposing player.

  2. Most “fun” option: Go all in… 3-4-3 with Besler, Brooks, Cameron across the back. FJ on the left, Bedoya on the right. Jones+Bradley in center. Dempsey underneath Zardes and Wood. Or call it a 5-3-2, if you prefer. Sub Beckerman, Nagbe or Pulisic depending on needs in 2nd half.

    Most likely, and probably most prudent: just swap Orozco for Yedlin, leave everything else the same.

  3. I would consider:
    Bedoya as a RB (with G.Zardes as the RM).
    J.Jones as LM, who tucks in
    Nagbe as the attacking mid (M.Bradley sits deeper as the Def Mid)

    I think having Bedoya and G.Zardes on the right will provide enough cover to attack and defend.
    Fabian knows how to play the left and J.Jones can provide some cover if needed
    This also opens a spot for Nagbe, who (along with Pulisic) was the reason we were in control in the 2nd half of the friendly against Ecuador

    Ahh, I’m just dreaming.

    More than likely Orozco goes in at RB, we don’t have much width on the right, lose the possession battle and hope / pray for a good result.

  4. Fabian was awesome at mid this season, but he also moved to RB late in games also.. So who is more dangerous, Valencia or what’s his face on the left? If Fabian moves to the RB, do you want the diminutive Castillo vs. Valencia or Besler? It’s not like Besler is slow, but Valencia is strong and tough…
    And no way you break up Cam and JB

    • Montero had a tendency to disappear some games for Swansea this year. I think you just start Orozco, tell him to stay in position and hope Montero decided to have an off day. I’m convinced Valencia would crush anyone we put on the left not named Fabian Johnson.

  5. i can see either

    really up to how things are looking in training.neither really jumps off the page as the obvious choice, in fact pretty similar. I am a fan of both Castillo and Birnbaum but not comfortable starting either at this point in the Copa.

  6. I’m still puzzled as to why Nagbe hasn’t gotten more game time?? I guess chemistry is the best answer but its still odd that we haven’t seen him slightly more than we have.

    • Nagbe, and Pulisic, ‘s roles are clear – offensive sub. in game 2 they were not needed, game 3 we were in bunker mode. pretty clear why they have only got in that one game so far while their more vet/defensive counter parts Zusi and Beckerman saw minutes.

      I would bet the farm that if we need a goal in the second half vs. Ecuador those two are on the field.

  7. I say Geoff….Birnbaum and Brooks partnered in the Ecuador friendly and weren’t tested at all. JK clearly trust Birnbaum because he played in the pre Copa friendlies so he has a good understanding of JAB’s tendencies, plus Birnbaum is great with his head and as we have seen can score goals from set pieces. I know people would like to not mess up the Brooks and Cameron partnership, but it’s for one game and again, JAB and Birnbaum were the CB’s against this very same Ecuador team(minus Valencia and Ayovi) so you would think they’d have an understanding of how they play. Cameron for me would better diminishing the effectiveness of Montero considering his skill, experience and athleticism. We’ll see what happens but JK has gotten it right up to this point so here is to hoping that continues.

  8. Minimize the number of changes and start Orozco at RB. I am not convinced that there is a drastic increase in quality if you sit Orozco and instead start Besler or Castillo at LB, and you would also further disrupt the stability that has finally been created across the back line by moving Johnson or Cameron to a new position. Tell Orozco to stay at home and focus on his defensive responsibilities.

    • He has been pretty important in the engine room, I think he COULD play there but it seems risky. Either Orozco and he stays home or move FJ over to handle Monteros speed and Put Castillo on the left. Problem is, If you switch FJ and he consistently pushes forward that could leave montero plenty of space to run so its a toss up for me. I still can’t believe how immature Yedlin was on that second tackle. I like Birnbaum but Cameron and Brooks have paired very well in my opinion and we shouldn’t disrupt that. Regardless of the XI there are no excuses, it is a game we should win, if we don’t Yedlins absence won’t be the reason. The real question is how long will Rob be MIA after the US advances and MEX gets thumped?

      • We SHOULD win???

        You do know Ecuador is a VERY good team and when we beat them a few weeks ago, they weren’t exactly playing full tilt or with full squad. This will be a much tighter game.

      • Yes Anthony, I think we SHOULD win the match. We are at home, playing well and better than or ranking In my opinion(not that those matter). I’m not taking the friendly into consideration at all and I didn’t say we would blow them out. I know they have a solid team, Relax and tell me why the US SHOULDN’T win.

      • Oh and since you’re basing your comment on the friendly, it will take OT to get any tighter than a 90 +2 goal for a 1-0 win.

      • I also read somewhere JK has a .700 win percentage in official matches, non friendlies. If it is accurate that is pretty good, maybe someone can verify that.

      • I think Klinsi meant at right back… but you’re right the JJ at CB idea wasn’t a good one. Luckily Klinsmann wasn’t stubborn and realized it.

    • Because he could really have matched up well with Cuadrado, Valencia, Lavezzi etc… a lot of that caliber player in the Championship…. would have given us an upper hand, for sure.

      • I agree with you, but since he is injured he is a no go. Ream and Lichaj are not so that is why we bought them up.

      • Chandler has never been better than any US defender against any competition. I would go with Castillo at left and move Fabian to the right. I wouldn’t be surprised if Klinsmann moves Bedoya to RB. We came into this competition far too thin at outside back.

      • In his first game for the USA against Argentina (a 1-1 draw) in 2009? Chandler was very very good as a second half substitute and everything looked bright. He has pretty much mostly failed to live up to that promising start.

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