For nearly a decade, one man has held down the starting spot at right back. If there were actual U.S. Men’s National Team depth charts, right back’s would be the least referenced, one of the luxuries of being able to write “Dolo” and move on.
While it’s tempting to do the same here, that would defeat the fun of these charts (the previous editions you can find linked, below). We can see Jurgen Klinsmann’s starting XIs and know which players are at the top of the pecking orders. The discussion comes from the lower rungs, where rankings often arise from past selections, previous usage, word of mouth, educated guesses, or prodding at tea leaves. Picking teams isn’t an exact science, let alone discerning how teams would be picked based on hypothetical scenarios.
That’s essentially what we’re doing here – asking who would be called in next if the previously listed players weren’t available. This isn’t who should be brought in based on our personal evaluations. It’s who we think is on the coach’s depth chart.
And with that, here are the right backs – five instead of the 10 we listed for positions where more than one guy can get on the field:
1. Steve Cherundolo, 33, Hannover (Germany)
With the possible exception of Tim Howard, Cherundolo has been the U.S.’s most reliable player, even if he isn’t necessarily considered on of the team’s elite players. But once you get beyond the team’s big four, Cherundolo is as important as anybody on the team, having given consistently dependable performances at right back since claiming the position in 2003.
2. Michael Parkhurst, 28, Nordsjaelland (Denmark)
Parkhurst drifted away from the national team picture as a left Major League Soccer four years ago, but his contributions to Nordsjaelland’s unlikely title campaign thrust the versatile defender onto Jurgen Klinsmann’s radar. Though capable of playing anywhere across the defense, Parkhurst threw his name in at right back with an encouraging performance against Jamaica in September. Now, he’s an obligatory callup.
3. Alfredo Morales, 22, Hertha Berlin (Germany)
Like Parkhurst, versatility is Morales’ strength, even if he has yet to make an appearance for the senior team. Though he was called up in November (after appearing for the U.S. at both U-20 and U-23 levels), Morales is still eligible to play for a Peru side eager to get him in the fold. Like Mix Diskerud, Morales is unlikely to see Jurgen Klinsmann go out of his way to tie him up. If the midfielder/defender wants to play for the U.S., he will have to wait for an opening, even if it only seems like a matter of time before one presents itself.
4. Eric Lichaj, 23, Aston Villa (England)
Lichaj was unfortunately injured during much of the time Klinsmann used to evaluate talent ahead of World Cup Qualifying, leaving the former Tar Heel on the outside looking in on the new regime. It hasn’t helped that his performances for Villa have been mixed, with Lichaj unable to hold down a spot in Paul Lambert’s starting XI. With Parkhurst back in the mix and Morales knocking on the door, competition for spots is more intense than it was at the end of the Bob Bradley era. Lichaj has lost ground.
5. Zach Loyd, 25, FC Dallas
Loyd’s versatility (able to play on the left or right) plus a strong January showing keep him on Klinsmann’s radar, even if (like Lichaj) he is unlikely to get a callup thanks to players like Parkhurst and Jonathan Spector. Another strong January camp could change that.
Previous depth charts: