United States national team depth chart: Can Steve Cherundolo hang on for one more World Cup?

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Five U.S. matches over the last month has generated significant movement on the U.S. depth chart – perhaps more shuffling than in any month-long stretch in Jurgen Klinsmann’s time in charge, which is now approaching two years.

Over the next five days, we’ll examine the U.S. depth chart, making our best educated guesses at how things stack up on Jurgen Klinsmann’s big board inside the manager’s Home Depot Center offices.

Next up: RIGHT BACK

Steve Cherundolo is the X factor that makes the right back position so difficult to dissect at the moment.

And then Timothy Chandler is the X factor-lite that further muddies our picture here.

Cherundolo (pictured) still looks like the best right back option – not totally surprising since he’s been the top choice at this spot for more than a decade. (People forget that the longtime Hannover man was named to the 2002 World Cup roster but was injured an unable to play.)

Even now at age 34, he has the legs to get forward along the right, the technical ability to make it count and ultimate knowledge of the position, which means he can calculate on a given day just how much up-and-down thrust can be safely tolerated.

The issue is that Cherundolo backed out of the last U.S. camp, informing Jurgen Klinsmann that R & R was the best thing for him going forward. Presumably, one strike will not position Cherundolo in the “Landon Donovan zone,” a place where no player with World Cup ambition wants to be.

It seems reasonable that the veteran defender, who just completed his 14th tough Bundesliga season, could use some extra time off. But then again, given Klinsmann’s unpredictability, who knows?

There is also the age issue. Cherundolo will be 35 when the United States lands in Brazil. Once the legs go, they go fast. Just a little bit of decline in that first step defensively can magnify quickly against some bright young thing attacking the U.S. right side.

Then there’s Chandler, supremely talented as a defender and able as an attacker, too, but someone who hasn’t exactly been a model of devotion to the U.S. cause.  Don’t forget, he needed convincing just to attach himself to the United States rather than Germany.

Geoff Cameron plays right back in the English Premier League and can probably do so at international level. No, he didn’t look good in his run-out against Belgium, but let’s not forget that was one of Europe’s top bunch of young attackers.

Brad Evans can certainly work in a pinch, and his presence on the depth chart really is a big summer talker. He shot up ahead of Michael Parkhurst and Tony Beltran over the last three weeks, after all. But the team will need more than stop-gap service next year in Brazil; Evans’ inability to apply more aggressive pressure up the right side hurt the U.S. attack Tuesday against Honduras.

U.S. right back ordering

  • 1. Steve Cherundolo
  • 2. Timothy Chandler
  • 3. Brad Evans
  • 4. Geoff Cameron
  • 5. Michael Parkhurst
  • 6. Tony Beltran

In review: U.S. Goalkeepers

Tomorrow: Center backs and left back

Watch Live: Swansea City vs. Liverpool

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Swansea City’s bid to slow down steamrolling Liverpool begins at 3 p.m. ET Monday at the Liberty Stadium (Watch live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The rampaging Reds are coming off a 4-3 win that ended Manchester City’s unbeaten Premier League season, and will hope to avoid a let down against desperate Swans.

The Welsh hosts are six points adrift in the race for Premier League safety, and look set for a 5-4-1 with Jordan Ayew the only forward. Wilfried Bony and Oliver McBurnie are on the bench along with attack-minded Luciano Narsingh.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Fabianski, Naughton, Van der Hoorn, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson, Ki, Fer, Clucas, Dyer, Ayew. Subs: Nordfeldt, Bartley, Roque Mesa, Carroll, Narsingh, McBurnie, Bony.

Liverpool: Karius, Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Can, Wijnaldum, Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mane, Firmino. Subs: Mignolet, Milner, Klavan, Lallana, Ings, Solanke, Alexander-Arnold.

Kevin De Bruyne commits to Man City through 2022-23

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Kevin De Bruyne is one of the best players in the world, and he’s committing his prime to the club which has taken him to the next level.

[ MORE: How will Arsenal, Man Utd line up? ]

Manchester City announced a new deal for the Belgian wizard, keeping him at the Etihad Stadium through 2023.

De Bruyne, 26, has posted 31 goals and 38 assists for Pep Guardiola‘s men since returning to England from the Bundesliga, and appreciates being given a lot more money. From ManCity.com:

“As I’ve said previously, my intention has always been to stay here at City, where I’ve felt at home from day one. Not only are we winning – we are playing great football. It’s a pleasure to be a part of and I’m really excited about what we can achieve in the coming years.”

De Bruyne is in the discussion for a Ballon d’Or finalist spot this year, along with Lionel Messi, Neymar, Gareth Bale, Harry Kane, and others (Hot take: This does seem to be year Ronaldo possibly knocked off, barring a remarkable run in the Champions League or World Cup).

After the swap: Alexis, Mkhi-infused XIs for Man Utd, Arsenal

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The deal is done: Henrikh Mkhitaryan has moved to Arsenal with Alexis Sanchez going the other way in a monumental January move.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

How will it look for each side once the shape’s settled?

Arsenal

When Henrikh Mkhitaryan was at his very best — for Borussia Dortmund in 2014-15 — he was deployed as a left or right wing. He contributed 23 goals and 32 assists in 52 matches during his final season at the Westfalenstadion, and predictably saw those numbers drop as Jose Mourinho consistently moved him toward an attacking center midfield role.

He’ll get the chance to go out wide again at the Emirates Stadium, though perhaps not always to the extreme flanks. Expect Alexandre Lacazette‘s numbers to explode with this move.

Arsene Wenger used a 4-3-3 to batter Crystal Palace 4-1 at the weekend, with Ozil on the right wing and Alex Iwobi on the left. The club still needs better at center defensive mid while Aaron Ramsey is out, so that will likely keep the lineup similar until he returns (at a minimum):

Cech

Bellerin — Mustafi — Koscielny — Montreal

Elneny (Ramsey, eventually)

Xhaka — Wilshere

Ozil — Lacazette — Mkhitaryan

By the way, a lot of Arsenal supporters aren’t feeling great about this (understatement alert):

Manchester United

Alexis Sanchez prefers left wing, too, and Mourinho has a trio of in-form players who like that side of the field. Anthony Martial is red hot but plays wider than Jesse Lingard, and it seems one of them will take the slot of Juan Mata to the right of Paul Pogba in a 4-1-4-1. Marcus Rashford could also see the far right positioning.

But against top competition — continued apologies to Burnley — it’s usually a 4-2-3-1 for Mourinho with Pogba dropping next to Nemanja Matic a little deeper in the formation. Lingard has been getting the run as CAM here, usually to the detriment of Juan Mata. With Alexis as the clear-cut left wing in this formation, it causes real combat for the two other slots between Mata, Lingard, Rashford, and Martial.

So while it’s likely we’d see something like this in a big game for Manchester United…

De Gea

Young — Jones — Smalling — Valencia

Matic — Pogba

Martial — Lingard —  Sanchez

Lukaku

… We’d love to see something more like this:

De Gea

Young — Jones — Smalling — Valencia

Matic — Herrera

Pogba

Martial — Lukaku — Sanchez

How do you think Wenger and Mou will run ’em out?

Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap official (video)

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Arsenal and Manchester United have completed their American-style trade, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan joining the Gunners and Alexis Sanchez on board the Red Devils’ train.

Both 29 years old, the playmakers arrive at their new homes with plenty to prove.

More to come…