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USMNT Depth Chart: Ranking the Right Backs

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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

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

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

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

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

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

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

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

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

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

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

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

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

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

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

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

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.

Comments

  1. Yedlin is not the starting RB at Galatasary. Gala’s starting RB Sacha Boey is injured right now and Gala fans are desperate to see him back in the starting lineup. Yedlin has been very poor filling in for Boey since returning from the int’l break (including conceding a penalty in today’s 3-0 loss).

    As for his performance with the USMNT, I thought he was poor against both El Salavador and Canada, and as far as the Honduras match, it’s hard to get too excited about 20 minutes at the end of a match against poor and exhausted opposition.

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  2. Dest reminds me somewhat of Chandler. Plays for a team in one of the top leagues in the world, and apparently does well enough there to keep playing; however, doesn’t do well for the US national team. Good offensive skills, but poor defensively.

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  3. At what point can we move Dest up to play on the wing? I’m wondering if the biggest missing piece is playing Reyna at the #10 spot.. Our midfield sucks

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    • maybe Dest is a player for outside of our region, idk. the midfield looks good to me when Adams plays the 6, the whole team looks better. I think our ‘stars’ up top need to get over that and work their butts off defensively in GB’s press, especially tracking back weakside, and especially in the unglamorous games in our region, and get over thinking they can just show up because they play CL or because they play on this team, or whatever. Don’t care…the needs here are different. Aaronson is the #1 winger for me over all other options in GB’s 4 3 3 for example

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      • My Beachbum! My favorite dude..
        My take is this: I agree Adams is huge, no doubt as a # 6 he’s not only the engine, but he’s a dam good player (and I’m impressed with how Acosta has played there as well) Mckennie is a solid #8 box to his guy… But we have NO creativity, No offensive contribution, nothing nada from the 3rd midfield spot. I mean not really at the level we need. There’s no linkage at all to the front 3.
        Here’s an example: so many times when there’s a goal kick, or when the keeper has the ball, and we can tell GB wants to play out of the back… So our 2 CBs go to their spots, everyone looks around like a dope.. and there’s pressure so instead of playing out of the back he punts it away.. Right?? Ok, so what’s been happening – we lose almost EVERY 2nd ball, then we’re stuck with these huge gaps between our lines and it’s lather rinse repeat…
        Mexico even put a guy on our #6 like glue every time we tried to play out of the back & I think other teams have already figured us out.
        We’ve got to get a #10 who can help fix this..
        We’ve had acres of space between the lines that are so predictable..
        My comment about Dest is merely this: the guy has skill, but he wants to get forward.. If it’s a way of getting the best 11 on the field it’s something to consider.
        Even if he goes away from his 433 & goes to a 4231.. If our midfield doesn’t improve the play Sargent is gonna continue to look all alone, CP is gonna continue to get hacked to death every time he drops deeper to run into space, and I think it’s making it easier for teams to figure us out….
        Rant over..

      • Good rant my man! On being predictable, agree and this has been discussed here with IV…got to play what’s on and know how. I think we’re better at the second ball game with McKennie on the field with Adams, and then there’s these for me to play the second 8 depending on things, Lletget (I know he gets trashed here), Busio, Musah, Roldan in no order, and I like Acosta too in the right role in the midfield. If it’s one of the stars, they need to be ready to put in the defensive shift of their lives each and every time in there in our region. I see it from them more and more, it has not always been there but they are young and maturing, so maybe in midfield if with that. And really, we produce lots of chances, our conversion rate derived from better decision making/execution in and around the area would change this discussion imo. Josh work hard but look at what we did with a 9 playing like a 9 with Pepi. Not saying he’s the answer, just saying this team with a 9 who acts like one makes the midfield look great. Cheers man!

    • Given our talent, I still don’t see the point in only using 1 striker. I think the whole team looks better when we add a second and drop our midfielders back into the midfield. We don’t move up and down the field as a unit, which isolates guys so they can be marked… and leaves the space you are talking about… so then, let’s add the FW and a MF. Throw Sargent AND Pefok in with pulisic, Renya, tyler and Mckinnie (or whomever is not being cast into the COVID violation dungeon for some flagellation) and I think you have a real team. Then, if you want to get creative, you add Dest on a wing and go 3CB. but the 4MF provide some cover for our LB/RB and the 2 FW let us play direct a bit more. Anyway, I was always a fan of the 3-5-2 for the US, but we finally have some LB/RB players, and we finally have competent MF so we don’t have to flood the zone. I mean, 442 is also a simple thing to get players to grasp in the International time frames… so why not?

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  4. I feel there are three distinct criteria: do you want your wingbacks to better at defending, be speedy, and or beat people off the dribble/deliver crosses. I’ll take the guy who was Gladbach’s player of the month last month for defense.

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  5. Dest is such an offensive force that he lost the LB spot to Robinson, who has scored and assisted. And at RB, Yedlin actually assisted on a goal. In fact, when Dest was on the field, USMNT scored zilch and when he wasn’t, they scored five. I’ll take Scally over Yedlin based on form, cause Yedlin looked like he was playing stuck in the mud against Canada.

    Dest is yet to prove across all of 2021 that he adds value on the actual field for USMNT ad he’d be 3rd on the depth chart based on actual play. Really unfortunate that the trio behind him are all stapled to the bench, they’d all deserve a shot.

    Furthermore, Dest is currently starting for a mid table team in La Liga, as unfortunate as it is for Barca. And the coach who has clearly favored Dest may get canned any day. So that may go by the wayside soon as well and he may join the 4-6 on the list.

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  6. Excellent suggestions. But I, for one, would really consider placing Tyler Adams somewhere in these rankings. Gregg certainly seems to rate him at the position as he’s given him several caps in that slot. He must surely see something that we don’t. His tactical acumen is well beyond us mere mortals. In fact, I have such high confidence in Gregg’s genius, I’m going all-in. Tyler Adams is without a doubt the top right back in the USMNT pool.

    I know what you’re thinking. I’m secretly Gregg Berhalter using a sock-puppet account to drum up support for my bizarre lineups and odd tactical decisions. Well that’s just silly. My name is Bregg Gerhalter. That’s totally different than Gregg Berhalter. We’re definitely two different people. You can ask my brother, Kay. Why just the other day Kay and I were discussing the many differences between Gregg and myself. I could never pull off the bald look. I lack his rugged good looks, so I have to let my hair grow out quite long to help hide my poor cheekbones. But most importantly, I just don’t have the soccer mind that Gregg possesses. I often find myself completely awestruck when I attempt to contemplate his tactical genius.

    We are certainly lucky to have Gregg as our manager, and Tyler Adams as our starting right back for years to come!

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      • Thank you for the support, Johnny. It’s nice to be included in such illustrious company. Well, Gregg is. Not me. I’m not Gregg after all.

  7. The first 3 are accurate…I may have Scally ahead of Yedlin on talent & league, but Yedlin still has the experience edge right now. In another 12 months it’s going to be splitting hairs.
    Reynalds, Moore, & Cannon are all on equal footing, with Reynalds probably the better long term prospect.
    Herrera, Duncan, & Wingo are fairly average players who I don’t think will ever be a factor for the USMNT.
    Che is a talent, but I believe he projects more as a CB than a RB long term.

    The best thing that can be said right now is that nearly all these players are young and have time to grow as players as they gain experience. Added bonus is that 2 of our top 3 RBs are also capable of playing LB.

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  8. I’d like to see an extra player at each position group 5CBs, 5FBs, 7 MF, 5 Wings, 3 CFs, 3GKs, sprinkle in 2 young players that likely won’t dress but can learn the system. A total of 30. I agree with Ives ratings then and take Dest, Yedlin, and Scally because they’re all playing and Scally and Sergino can play both FB positions. If Berhalter brings his only 26 again I’m going to cry.

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    • After the last go round it’d be practically criminal to bring less than 30. At least for the October round 2 out of the 3 games are at home so it will be pretty easy to add an extra MLS player if the need is there.

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      • Upon further review we’ll need at least 4 keepers as Steffen and Horvath can’t travel to Panama. There was talk that you must have 3 GKs in the 23 so one of our field players was only able to sub as the third keeper against ES but I never saw that reported by USSF anywhere.

  9. The great thing is that Berhalter can call up as many players as he wants and is only limited on game day. He can bring in his top 3 and given the density use all of them to good effect. If he were really clever (or perhaps too clever) he could start Hernandez for the first games while the other Euro players recover from jet lag and then play the Euro players for games 2 and 3

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  10. Yedlin was good against Honduras, but Scally has started all season for a better team in a better league. I can see starting Yedlin (I guess) if Dest is still hurt since he has experience, but Scally has a better resume of late. At what point to you place form above experience? Also, what about Julian Arajo? He seems to be pretty high on lots of people’s lists (Tactical Manager, 11 Yanks, etc.), but is not even listed here. Sure he has not committed to the USA yet, but neither has Che, who flirts with Germany. So why include one and not the other?

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      • Thanks for pointing this out. What I get for just reading the list and not the lead in to the list. Do wish Ives was a bit more clear in whether this is his ranking, or his evaluation of the coach’s ranking. Based on recent work, think you have to put Scally ahead of Yedlin, even if the coach disagrees. Also, why not rank Arajo until it is official he is not with the USMNT. He played for us in Olympic qualifying and has not officially announced a switch. Ives says it is reported that he has filed a one time switch. Has this been confirmed? If not, why make assumptions?

  11. Wingo should definitely be higher in this list! Scally, Reynolds, Moore and Duncan combined haven’t done half as much but finds themselves above him. Cannon too! Talk about recency bias?

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  12. Part of me wants to move on from Yedlin… just… because. But I can’t really disagree with this list. It’s only been three games for Scally. Fingers crossed for a Cannon recovery.

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