The right back position has not always been a position of strength for the U.S. men’s national team, and certainly not a position where the program could boast an impressive amount of depth.
Times have changed though, and the era of Steve Cherundolo-or-bust has been replaced now by a generation of right backs with more elite prospects than ever before.
Though there is currently no consistent and reliable right-back option quite as solid as Cherundolo, there are several young players showing the potential to develop into top-level players at the position.
SBI will be taking a closer look at every position in the player pool in the coming days. We began last week with the goalkeeper position, and this week we will turn our attention to the defensive positions.
For some clarification on the process to establish these rankings, factors ranking from national team appearances and call-ups, age and youth national team experience. In other words, there may be some older right backs who are more established in MLS than some younger players on this list, but since they have not been a part of the USMNT setup before (or not in a long time) then they may be unranked in favor of younger prospects. We will also designate the final spot on each list for the youngest top prospects in the pipeline.
One player missing from this list of right backs is LA Galaxy standout Julian Araujo, who is reportedly going to file a Change of Association to represent Mexico. He has yet to publicly announce that decision, but for the time being we will leave him off this list unless and until it becomes clear that he will be sticking with the USMNT program.
The good news for American fans is that right back is deep with talent, so much so that solid options Brooks Lennon, Keegan Rosenberry and Brandon Bye have missed the cut when in past years they would have made the list easily.
With all that in mind, is a closer look at the USMNT Right Back Depth Chart:
USMNT Right Back Depth Chart
1. Sergino Dest
Dest may not be coming off the best set of matches for the USMNT, but he remains the top talent in the pool. His defensive qualities are still a work in progress, but there is no denying the 20-year-old’s attacking skills and dynamic option he is at the position. Dest will remain the USMNT starter unless he loses his grip on the starting role for Barcelona, which could open the door for someone like Yedlin to become the starter in qualifying.
2. DeAndre Yedlin
A month ago Yedlin would have been lower on this list, and even after the World Cup qualifier against Canada he would have landed a few spots lower, but his showing against Honduras and subsequent establishing of himself as a starter for Galatasaray has helped restore his place as the most complete right back in the pool at the moment.
3. Joe Scally
It might feel premature to debut the teenager this high on the list after just six straight starts for German Bundesliga side Borussia Moenchengladbach, but he has been that impressive, showing well both at right back and left back. The right side is his natural role, and if he continues to start it will be tough to keep him off the USMNT roster for October qualifiers.
4. Reggie Cannon
It has been a rough stretch for Cannon, who suffered an injury that cost him a starting role at the Gold Cup, then saw a deadline-day transfer move to Fulham fall through at the last moment, and now he has been sidelined with an injury while at Portuguese side Boavista, a club he was determined to leave this summer. He would have been as high as second on this list a few months back, but if things don’t start changing for him soon, Cannon could soon start to slide down this list.
5. Shaq Moore
It has been a roller-coaster few months for Moore, who experienced the high of a breakout run as the USMNT starting right back at the Gold Cup, to returning to his club only to find he had lost his starting job. Minutes have been scarce for Moore at Tenerife, which will make it tougher for him to make his way back to the USMNT in the near future, especially with the emergence of Scally.
6. Bryan Reynolds
The 20-year-old made his USMNT debut in March, and is clearly one of the most promising talents in the pool, but with playing time hard to come by at AS Roma, Reynolds could be made to wait to have a chance of moving up this list. That said, the experience of playing for, and learning from Jose Mourinho should only serve to help him develop.
7. Aaron Herrera
Currently leading all MLS defenders in assists with nine, Herrera is in the midst of a career year with Real Salt Lake, and his winning the starting role for the Olympic qualifying tournament back in March showed that he leads the current crop of MLS right backs. The 24-year-old is in a tough spot though because getting ahead of the younger options ahead of him on this list won’t be easy.
8. Kyle Duncan
One of the best right backs in MLS, Duncan is a versatile option who can play either fullback position, and only injuries have kept him from really climbing up this list. He has continued to play at a high level with the New York Red Bulls, but the 24-year-old may need to make a move back to Europe to really jump back into the top half of this list.
9. Henry Wingo
The former Seattle Sounders has put together an impressive run in Europe, first at Norwegian side Molde, and now with Hungarian champions Ferencvaros, which he helped come within one round of reaching the UEFA Champions League group stage. The 25-year-old former winger has really settled into the right back role, and is someone Berhalter should be keeping an eye on, especially if he finds himself in need of a right back earning consistent playing time.
10. Justin Che
The latest product off the FC Dallas talent assembly line, Che has already taken part in his first USMNT camp, and the 17-year-old has earned regular starts with FC Dallas. He is still young, and raw, and learning, but is widely-regarded as the type of talent who could be at or near the top of this list one day.
What do you think of the list? Who are you happy to see included? Who didn’t make the cut that you feel should be on the list?
Share your thoughts below.