PST U.S. Men’s National Team Depth Chart: Right Back

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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:

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia