USMNT Depth Chart: Right Backs
1.) Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City; 34 international appearances)
Considering the injury to Steve Cherundolo, Jonathan Spector is the American right back with the most proven-ability against high-level competition.
While still under 30 years old, Spector has played in England for years, and he’s shown his ability to defend and attack from the right back position at the international level.
Unlike DeAndre Yedlin or Andrew Farrell, Spector is the American right back with the most experience and proven ability, excluding Cherundolo. Spector is tall, mobile, skilled on the ball, sound defensively, and experienced against international-caliber players.
If Jürgen Klinsmann wants to use a right back who has the experience and skill to be ready to play right now, then Spector is the obvious choice until Cherundolo has returned from injury.
2.) DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders)
In many ways, DeAndre Yedlin represents the first American right back who has the tools and playing style of a modern outside back. Yedlin is just 20 years old, but he’s already distinguished himself from other MLS right backs (with the exception of Andrew Farrell) by his marauding runs down the sideline and his ability to dribble and pass his way out of the back with both feet.
Yedlin’s defense is better than he gets credit for, and his tackling and tracking down of opponents show good defensive fundamentals. Technically, Yedlin has demonstrated that his touch and ball control will translate to the international level.
Yedlin will soon be the best American right back unless Andrew Farrell has something to say about it.
2.) Andrew Farrell (New England Revolution)
Andrew Farrell was discussed in World Soccer Source’s previous article coving the depth of the center backs in the American player pool, but Farrell has been playing as a right back this season in MLS.
Strong, fast, and a good tackler, Farrell’s technical ability is good, and he can defend as well as he attacks. Right now, one would have to say that Farrell’s defending is better than that of Yedlin, so Farrell and Yedlin are somewhat equal as right backs.
Only time will tell if Yedlin or Farrell is a better right back, or if Farrell is better suited to play as a center back. Either way, World Soccer Source would be surprised to see Brad Evans outperform Andrew Farrell or DeAndre Yedlin on the international level.
4.) Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest; 8 international appearances)
Eric Lichaj has played in enough games for the United States Men’s National Team that it’s understandable for many people to consider him a better right back than Yedlin and Farrell, but the two younger American right backs look faster, better, and more promising.
Nevertheless, Lichaj has demonstrated that he should have been playing as a right back for the United States whenever he was available, and Jürgen Klinsmann’s insistence on freezing Lichaj out of the American roster is inexcusable.
Without a doubt, Lichaj is an international-caliber right back who has all of the tools to play for the United States. Klinsmann’s refusal to call up Eric Lichaj is a total mystery considering Lichaj’s international and club resume combined with his youth.
While it’s unclear how interested Timothy Chandler really is in playing for the United States, Klinsmann’s exclusion of Jonathan Spector and Eric Lichaj from the roster is baffling, especially since Steve Cherundolo is injured.
Klinsmann can justify not having incorporated Yedlin and Farrell yet because the U.S. hadn’t qualified for the World Cup until this week, but the choice to use Brad Evans over both Jonathan Spector and Eric Lichaj looked like just poor coaching and roster selection on Klinsmann’s part. Klinsmann will claim that his coaching decisions worked since the U.S. qualified for the World Cup, but the competition was poor.