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Ranking the USMNT Talent Pool: Right Backs

With the game of soccer currently on hold around the world, it is a good time to take stock of the U.S. Men’s National Team talent pool as we wait for the sport to resume.

SBI is taking a closer look at each position in the USMNT player pool, ranking the top options, based both on recent form, and potential.

Up next is right fullback, where Reggie Cannon and DeAndre Yedlin lead the way at a position with some solid options at a good age range. There are some players who could factor at right back, but are being ranked at other positions in our depth chart series (Sergino Dest, Tyler Adams).

Dest could easily transition to the top spot at right back if and when new starting options at left back emerge, allowing Gregg Berhalter to move and keep Dest at right back, where he would be the top option.

The Adams right back experiment isn’t one we should assume is gone for good, especially if Adams starting seeing regular minutes at the position for RB Leipzig. That being said, Berhalter said earlier this year that he sees Adams being a midfielder for the national team.

Here are the Top 10 right back prospects in the USMNT talent pool heading into the next World Cup qualifying cycle:

Reggie Cannon

The breakout player at the position in 2019, Cannon went from a fringe candidate to the starter in the Gold Cup final after Yedlin missed the tournament with an injury. Cannon has shown himself to be a quick learner, and he is mature beyond his 21 years.

The challenge for Cannon in 2020 will be playing well enough to earn himself a transfer to a bigger league. Yedlin’s benching at Newcastle has opened the door for Cannon, though the postponement of Olympic qualifying has taken away (at least for now) another opportunity for him to impress. He recently signed a new contract with FC Dallas, but it won’t prevent him from being sold this summer if he continues to improve.

DeAndre Yedlin

The Newcastle defender heads into 2020 with six years of USMNT experience under his belt, and should be the clear-cut starter at right back for Gregg Berhalter when Nations League rolls around in June. At least that was the case before he lost his starting job, which has led to him being stuck on the bench in recent months.

Yedlin’s defending has shown steady improvement, making him a well-rounded threat, and the 26-year-old’s leadership qualities shouldn’t be overlooked either.

Aaron Herrera

After seeing plenty of time at left back earlier in his career, Herrera settled in at his natural right back position for Real Salt Lake in 2019 and established himself as one of the better young right backs in MLS.

The 22-year-old earned a place on the U.S. Olympic qualifying team, though may have had to play left back on that team given Cannon’s presence on the team.

Tristan Blackmon

The Los Angeles FC defender enjoyed a breakout second season as a pro, playing an important role for Bob Bradley’s squad as a reliable depth option at right back and centerback. It remains to be seen which position he will settle into long-term, but he showed in 2019 that he’s ready for a bigger role.

A 6-foot-1 defender with good speed and solid passing skills, Blackmon has settled into a starting right back role with LAFC in 2020, there there is still a good possibility that he eventually shifts into central defense. Either way, his continued improvement at LAFC should lead to a USMNT look eventually.

Nick Lima

After starting 2019 with some serious momentum as an impressive USMNT newcomer, Lima proceeded to struggle through some battles with club and country. He went into the Gold Cup as the starting right back, but lost that spot to Reggie Cannon, and he spent most of the 2019 MLS season playing out of position at left back, which couldn’t have helped his cause.

Though USMNT minutes were tough to come by for Lima in the second half of 2019, he made the most of those opportunities, and his solid defending and good attacking contributions will give him a chance to stay near the top of this list, assuming he can convince Matias Almeyda to play him at his natural right back spot for San Jose. Heading into 2020, Almeyda was still deploying Lima as a left back.

Keegan Rosenberry

When 2019 began, Rosenberry had already done enough to earn a January USMNT camp call, but even though he fell out of the national team picture he continued to perform well in MLS play.

The 26-year-old may not boast the top-end speed of some other options on this list, but he is a consistent defender who understands the position like few on this list.

Kyle Duncan

A versatile fullback prospect who recovered well from a torn ACL that cost him most of 2018, Duncan is a dynamic threat on the wing and he is lined up for a big 2020.

The New York Red Bulls sold Michael Murillo to Anderlecht, clearing the way for Duncan to start full-time at his preferred right back position. The big question surrounding Duncan is whether he can stay healthy.

Shaq Moore

There aren’t many American players who can count La Liga minutes on their resume, but that lofty credential hasn’t kept Moore from enduring a tough career road in recent years.

Now at Spanish second-division side Tenerife, Moore is earning regular minutes and rebuilding his standing on the USMNT radar after a difficult year in search of playing time. The 23-year-old is facing some stiff competition at the position, but if he can make the climb back up to La Liga then the USMNT will have no choice but to bring him back into the mix.

Matt Olosunde

The former Manchester United defender saw his time at Old Trafford end last summer and now finds himself at English League One side Rotherham United, where he has become a regular starter.

The 21-year-old former Red Bulls academy product is earning minutes in a more advanced role, which should only help round out his game as he looks to push into the U.S. Under-23 national team picture ahead of a potential trip to the Olympics.

Julian Araujo

A member of the U.S. Under-20 World Cup team, Araujo took a major step forward in 2019, making 18 appearances for the LA Galaxy and flashing the potential that has him regarded as one of best teenager defenders in the USMNT pipeline.

The 18-year-old defender is age eligible for the next U.S. Under-20 cycle and could find himself in a tough fight for minutes with the Galaxy in 2020, but if he can earn regular minutes, a move into the USMNT picture is a good bet.


  1. worth noting: Tenerife is trying to turn Shaq into a winger!
    and he’s pretty good at it.
    collects passes well, draws defenders, almost impossible to muscle off the ball, and distributes in a forward-thinking way.
    Shaq is a USMNT dark horse worth keeping an eye on.
    wouldn’t surprise me a bit to see him getting regular minutes in a top 5 league eventually

  2. What about Matt Polster? He had been in the picture a few years ago before he got hurt when he was with the Chicago Fire. Now, he’s at Rangers and starting to get significant minutes. Hopefully he will at least be given a look.


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