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A closer look at the USMNT’s current right back situation

It’s looking ever more likely that the U.S. men’s national team won’t have the services of Sergino Dest for this summer’s Copa America, opening the door for several other players to make the most of the upcoming opportunity.

Dest, who recently suffered a serious knee injury in PSV training on Sunday, could reportedly miss up to nine months. The American right back was enjoying a stellar loan spell with the Eredivisie leaders, but now could very well miss this summer’s international schedule, as well as the first half of next season.

Dest’s injury will force USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter to seriously consider his options in the coming weeks, knowing that the Copa America schedule kicks off in two months time.

With Dest expected to be out for the competition, here is a closer look at the potential right back replacements in the USMNT squad:


Joe Scally


Joe Scally will be the likely replacement for Dest, especially given the fact that has seen time on both sides of the backline.

The 21-year-old has continued to play a consistent role for Bundesliga side Borussia Moenchengladbach this season, logging 2,275 minutes, one goal, and three assists in 32 combined appearances. Scally is closing in on 100 career appearances for Gladbach, which has seen him used as a left and right back at times.

He’s earned nine caps to date with the USMNT and did start for Dest in last March’s CONCACAF Nations League semifinal win over Jamaica.


Bryan Reynolds


Another European right back that we could see this summer is Bryan Reynolds.

Reynolds, 22, has made 31 combined appearances for Belgian Pro League side Westerlo, registering four assists in 2,718 minutes of action. The former FC Dallas academy product has continued to develop in Belgium, teaming up with fellow American Griffin Yow over the past two seasons.

Reynolds debuted for the USMNT in 2021 but hasn’t earned a cap since the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

He is also an option for the Olympic roster this summer, which could rule him out of Copa America involvement if chosen in Marko Mitrovic’s squad.


DeAndre Yedlin


Berhalter might lean towards veteran experience at right back and DeAndre Yedlin certainly brings that to the table.

Yedlin, 30, has made 81 international appearances to date, but has mainly served as a backup option in recent years. The now-FC Cincinnati defender has continued to earn a starting role in MLS, making the move from Inter Miami to the reigning Supporters’ Shield winners last March.

Yedlin might not be first-choice in the current USMNT pool, but he does bring valuable experience to the mix.


Reggie Cannon


Dest’s injury could also lead to Reggie Cannon’s return to the USMNT plans.

The 25-year-old Cannon made the move to England last fall, joining QPR in the EFL Championship. Cannon has made 20 appearances for the English second-tier side this season, but has struggled for consistent playing time since mid-February.

Cannon has earned 28 USMNT caps to date, with his last coming in 2022 in the pre- FIFA World Cup friendlies.


Shaq Moore


Another right back option during Gregg Berhalter’s time as head coach, Shaq Moore will also be fighting to get into the mix.

Moore, 27, has made eight combined appearances for Nashville SC this season, adding three assists. After making the move to MLS, Moore has accumulated over 60 appearances in Gary Smith’s squad, featuring regularly as a right back and right wing back.

Moore’s last USMNT appearance came during a 1-0 friendly loss to Slovenia earlier this year, his first in 14 months. A strong defender, Moore did feature under Berhalter at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as well as other competitions.

Comments

  1. going to be by committee imo, depending on who we’re playing in the matchups. definitely gives GB more to think about instead of just penciling in one of our most dangerous and able players

    a change in system? idk but in tactics out of it, maybe; play much more thru the left with Jedi higher and whoever the RB is then tucked in defensively along the back line, leaving Weah as the weak side attacker and also the weak side runner on the recovery if we turn over; he’s good at both, very responsible, altho we lose a little of his on ball ability to break down defenders strong side; he’d still get his chances to do that tho

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  2. The price of stubborn rigidity, being married to one way of doing thing is is when “stuff” happens, you are forced to adapt, you are ill prepared to do so. Dest and his unique skillset within the roster will be missed no matter what, but there should never be such uncertainty tactically and within the player pool to adapt to single player’s absence. Every manager should have a plan A, plan B in place always- a tried and true contingency should any player be unavailable. Perhaps it’s just fan panic and GGG has it all handled, he already has a plan in mind. Hopefully it ain’t his baffling RB plan B from last cycle Shaq Moore. It will be interesting to see how the manager responds in the coming friendlies vs tough opposition. Someone’s going to have to integrate under duress.

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  3. A little off topic… but I think there is no way FIFA doesn’t keep the squad size at 26 players. With the added round of 32 you could conceivably be playing multiple knock out round games for the entire 120 minutes. Squad depth and rotation will be an absolute must in this WC for teams that go deep in the tournament. Further risk of fatigue, injury issues, and yellow and red card accumulations.

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  4. To be honest I think Scally would do really well as a CB in a 3 man backline. More defnse minded and physical at 6’1″. More than enough pace. A position I want to see him play more at as his career progresses.

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    • Two dudes who would make great centerbacks in an attacking system would be Tessman and Cardoso. Playing in the center and extending into the play as an additional midfielder. Similar to Godin at Atletico

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  5. Bryan Reynolds star neck tattoos are cool. Scared to get neck tatted, got my chest and part of my stomach tatted and my wrist.

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  6. Time for a 3-4-1-2
    ———Pulisic———Balo———
    —————-Reyna——————-
    Jedi——Tyler—Wes——Weah
    ——-Richards-Ream-CCV—-

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      • Richards and Palace have been for the last couple months. CCV played in a three back with several different teams in The Championship. Ream played a 3 CB earlier in his Fulham days as well. Robinson is playing a 3 CB now with FCC. McKenzie has played a 3 CB with Genk. Scally and Cannon have even played as CBs in a 3 CB. Trusty is fine, but the entire pool has experience in a back three.

      • Your missing my point. Trusty better than Ream, Cannon, M Robinson majority of those people you named. CCV is not reliable because he always comes injured. My point is call up the guy up who plays in that system weekend and week out and plays in top leauge in the world,evaluate talent with a sane mind, which Coach B does not do.

      • I’m going to assume the guy with 15 years as a professional CB can evaluate CBs better than I can. Also, honestly I don’t think there’s anyway he goes with a 3 CB formation.

    • Im actually really on board with this formation. It gives Pulisic the freedom to drop in behind balo and drift wide. Allows Reyna to.pull the strings a bit more too. Weah can still bomb forward and Mckennie and Adams can break up plays and get the ball moving quickly. And it gives Balo to play off of Pulisic. Which I think suits him better than being a lone striker. Or Wright with Pulisic.

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    • Great minds think alike. I was kind of thinking the same thing. We probably don’t need that in the first couple games against Bolivia and Panama but against better squads like Uruguay, Colombia, Brazil, etc…I’d personally lean hard in that direction. I had it as a 3-5-2 but same difference since my personnel – and probably roles – are exactly the same as yours.

      Also, this would allow you to only bring 5 CB’s – you’d never use CB #6 – and hey, once again, there’s that extra offensive player getting snuck onto the roster, so you don’t have to decide between Josh Sargent, Haji Wright, and Pepi and gives you the ability to bring all three. And I want all three.

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    • I agree a change in shape is required but do we believe Greg will adjust his preferred shape and style. I have little hope he ever will.

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    • JR, you could also have the flexibility to move Wes or Tyler to right wingback and put Cardoso into midfield.
      Interesting with the intent of putting the best players on the field and not necessarily the best position players
      The three in back could really expose attacking teams with Weah and Jedi getting behind defenders and forcing offensive players to defend diagonal and over the top balls. Weah and Jedi are really the only two “speed” guys I can think of ?

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    • JR, I think it would more likely be a 3421 with Pulisic and Reyna next to each other. McKennie would start but not next to Adams; would be either of the outside spots in the 4 which means ahead if either Arob or Weah with Cardosa next to Adams. Options are limited next to Adams unless some others show drastic improvement although Maloney can play there also and he is healthy again.

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      • Sorry Tele, I know you are wary of Wes and his turnovers in the middle of the park but you don’t need two destroyers there. Maloney and Adams together would be the most dreadful football you’ve ever seen. Literally the only the way the ball would move would be back or sideways. Yes, I know in very limited sample Tyler’s progressive passing has improved. Look at Columbus neither Nagbe or Morris are defensive midfielders, with 3 CBs you don’t need to cover that backline with a #6 and certainly you don’t two #6s. Wes has played in that CM role for Juve for 3/4ths of the year with Cambiaso outside in the WB role (or Tim). That’s where he has had much of his resurgence. Cardoso or Musah next to Adams would be fine if Wes was unavailable, but not necessary. The two CMs have to be able to progress the ball to Gio (that’s where Wes comes in) and be able to work back to help in transition. B Aaronson could fit next to Adams as well in that 8 role.
        ————————
        As for 2-1 or 1-2 up top, I don’t think it matters all that much, if you put those three players out there give them the freedom to figure it out. I think if you gave them the opportunity they would find the spaces and at times it would look like both. Again in Columbus they do this pretty regularly with Cucho, Rossi, and Matan, anyone could end up in any of those spots with Yeboah and Farsi providing width. Same with Joshaji Balepi, Reyna, Pulisic with Jedi and Weah providing width.
        ———————
        Gregg’s not going to do this anyway so it’s all theoretical.

      • JR, in most games, Juventus has better players than the other team and that allows them to play differently. The only two teams that the US will play in Copa that don’t have better players are Panama and Bolivia. Any team after that will have better players. How McKennie plays for Juventus is no indication of how he will play for the US just like Brooks, Scally, and Reyna. Arob and Scally can both play in a 3 man back line as well as Brooks, Ream, CCV, Richards, Trusty so there are a lot of options for a 3 back line in the pool. I’m not so sure you won’t see a 3 man back line. I remember you thinking I was crazy when I suggested Weah as a wingback in a 3-5-2 but both Lille and Juventus have used him there. Gregg generally tries to het his best players on the field togethor; Dest is one of those but with him out for entire tournament, may see different formation. Philosophy will he the same regardless of formation.

      • Tele, just like when Lille used Tim as a LB and as Juve has found RWB not Tim’s greatest position but you do what you have too. However, like Lille we may be a bit any port in a storm this summer. I’m not more than 50/50 that Tyler plays. I’d give us mostly even in terms of quality with Uruguay but losing Dest tilts that some. In that game we need press resistant players so not sure what that will look like. My guess would it will be similar to NL final 4-3-3 with Gio dropping deep to provide line breaking passes thru Bielsa’s defense. I think the biggest variation will be against Bolivia Gio will be upfield breaking down their block from underneath Balo. I know it’s a different roster but Panama carved up BJ’s Gregg inspired 4-3-3 at the GC so hopefully we have some adjustments ready so our A guys aren’t chasing shadows for 90 minutes.
        ———————
        Gregg may use a 3 CB against Colombia in friendly but then I think it goes away. We’ve seen him pull it out periodically Northern Ireland, at Honduras then it goes away. He’d did the same with The Crew in 2017 pulling it then shelving it for 6 or 7 matches. Tried it full time when Higuain went down but gave up on it and I don’t think ever went back to it in 2018 or 2019.

  7. No doubt Dest is one of the most dynamic players on the USMNT roster. None of the other players (at RB) even come close with his chance creation and ability to break pressure. Sure he can be a defensive liability but he also forces any opposing wide player to defend

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    • yep, he is irreplaceable on this roster

      depending on the matchups, Yedlin the pick for me, Scally too slow for some matchups but ok in others

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  8. Boy after Scally and Reynolds I don’t feel real comfortable. Tyler (and I’ll add Wes and Weah) could do a job if need be but that takes them away from other important spots. Both Moore and not listed DeJuan Jones are out until mid-May with injuries, so should be available at least as backups but not a given. Yedlin I guess in this situation of a stop gap isn’t terrible. Not really any super exciting youth RBs that deserve minutes. Harriel has been with U23s, Varas pretty much didn’t use one with U20s last year, and Cuevas during U20 qualifiers can’t even make MLS roster for Galaxy. Gressel is too slow at this age to play RB in MLS let alone the NT against Brazil.

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    • JR,

      You never know how much you will miss someone until they are gone.
      People have been bitching about Dest his entire USMNT career.
      Well his entire USMNT career adds up to three very good games in Qatar and one bad one. Three out of four, not bad.

      I guess we’ll find out just how good Scally really is; that is after Gregg gives Shaq Moore the first shot. Shaq should be healed by early May. If Lund can play right back then :

      Shaq
      Weah
      Lund
      Scally

      Gregg does not seem to like Scally, not withstanding his many BL starts. After all JAB has plenty of BL starts for all the good that does him.

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      • Vac, Scally has generally been pretty bad for the US. His Bundesliga play hasn’t translated well to the national team. Similarly, Brooks has had some very good games for the US but just as many if not more bad games. Just like Reyna not playing much for his club doesn’t diminish his great performances for the US and he has proven to be one of the best players in the pool, great club performances don’t mean anything if they can’t be replicated for the national team. I think Gregg wants Scally to be the one who steps up but he has to do better when given the chance. I’m not sure if there will be a camp before Copa where Gregg can bring in extra players and make final cuts but that would be preferable. Without Dest, I think I would want to see 3 centerbacks.

      • Tele57,

        “Vac, Scally has generally been pretty bad for the US. ”

        That’s an understatement. I think I’ve seen all of his USMNT games and he has sucked. Most of you guys root for players. I mostly root for the team. Joe is an important BMG player but he has yet to convince me that he has anything to contribute to the USMNT yet.

        But Gregg keeps calling him back in. When Dest and Jedi were going strong Gregg had the luxury of knowing both were probably going to go 90. So Gregg could work in Scally at his leisure.

        Whether that was the best approach to take with Scally who knows? But, now it is do or die. No more bullshit.

        As for three centerbacks, I think if Gregg thought he had 3 centerbacks who could make that work, he’d try it.

        Trusty has been playing in a 3 CB back 5 (5-3-2) with Sheffield. It is their signature formation.

        That tells me either Gregg doesn’t think Trusty is ready for prime time OR he doesn’t think we have two other CB’s to make 3 CB’s work.

        The 3 CB’s can be hard because instead of dividing your final third into 4 areas of responsibility as happens with a basic back 4, with a basic back 3, that area is divided into thirds.
        Much harder to cover.

        At the club level, you can work out all kinds of ways to cover for that but at the international level, with zero training and practice time, you’re asking for a lot from your defenders if they don’t already play in a back 3 with their clubs. I can’t see Gregg going anywhere near a back three.
        And you know Sheffield United have a goal differential of -59. For context, Burnley, one spot above them in the table have a goal differential of -32. Sheffield are going down. But they will almost certainly come right back up. Trusty will just have to wait his turn.

        I think Gregg is going to have Timo and Shaq compete to be the direct replacement for Dest. At least Villafana is not in the mix

        But I’ve been wrong before.

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