Talking Michael Parkhurst, Brad Evans and U.S. right back situation

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News from Sunday that Michael Parkhurst will replace Brad Evans for the upcoming pair of U.S. World Cup qualifiers tells us three things:

  • Geoff Cameron (pictured) will almost certainly line up at right back when the United States plays at Costa Rica next week and again a few days later during the latest U.S.-Mexico clash, this time in Columbus, Ohio. (Who doesn’t love a good U.S-Mexico clash – especially when El Tri remains somewhere between “crisis” and “full-on Mexican meltdown!”)
  • The U.S. situation at right back still needs some work; it has become one of two trouble spots on the roster, along with left back.
  • It’s getting easier to see where everyone stands on Jurgen Klinsmann’s depth chart.

The move comes as the last of Klinsmann’s latest call-ups gather in Miami today; they will train there Monday and again on Tuesday morning before departure into Costa Rica for Friday’s match against the Ticos.

Evans and Cameron were the only right backs on the 23-man roster released late last week, although Fabian Johnson could surely fill the gap in a pinch. Sunday’s late news out of U.S. Soccer means Cameron is surely the guy.

That’s not bad considering the long-legged fellow is a starter at the position for a Premier League club. On the other hand, Cameron did not go to Stoke City a year ago as a right back, but rather as a center back. He’s not a natural closer to the touchline – not at this point, anyway.

Further, this removes one other holding midfield option for Klinsmann; remember how good Cameron looked in that position as the last round of qualifier came and went so successfully in June.

Evans had started five consecutive U.S. matches at right back for which he was available, including three qualifiers. That’s a bit telling, too, as Evans plays the role of midfield utility knife for Seattle. Not to put too fine a point on it, but he is not a natural right back either.

Clearly, then, Parkhurst is next in line on Klinsmann’s depth chart. Parkhurst was passable as a right back in Gold Cup matches – but we know to judge that for what it’s worth. Even in that competition, Parkhurst added very little to the attack, generally preferring the safer passing options and hardly ever getting aggressive about dashing forward. When outside backs cannot be effective attackers it changes all the tactical and personnel calculus around them. Optimally, then, the right-sided attacker must be someone who can provide width (rather than someone who likes to cut inside) because Parkhurst will struggle to effectively do so.

What all this means is that right back is a place of relative instability, certainly when compared to positions of strength at the moment: striker, second forward, right- and left-sided attacker, holding midfielder, linking midfielder, center back and goalkeeper. Pretty much all of them check the box for “solid enough” right for now – other than right and left back, that is.

It will continue to be so until Timothy Chandler gets himself sorted out, and until Steve Cherundolo gets back to good health.

Arsenal lands Ostersunds in Europa League draw

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Arsenal will face a team with an English connection in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32.

The Gunners were paired with Swedish side Ostersunds in the Europa League knockout stage draw Monday, with matches set to be played on February 15 and February 22. Ostersund are managed by Englishman Graham Potter, who played in the Championship and lower in England before starting his managerial career with Ostersunds in 2010 in the fourth tier of Swedish soccer.

[READ: UCL draw+analysis]

Ostersunds surprised many earlier this year winning the Swedish Cup to qualify for the Europa League, and then advanced out of a group that included Hertha Berlin and Athletic Bilbao.

It represents an interesting draw for Arsenal, which will have to balance the squad during a tough February. The weekend prior to the first-leg match is the second leg of the North London derby against Tottenham, and following the second match with Ostersunds is a showdown with Manchester City.

Here’s a look at how the rest of the draw shook out:

Champions League last 16 draw sets up huge clashes

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The Round of 16 draw for the UEFA Champions League did not disappoint.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule

We have some monster clashes with Chelsea facing Barcelona, once again, and the reigning champs Real Madrid paired with the favorites Paris Saint-Germain.

With five Premier League teams remaining, Tottenham have been handed a tough draw against Italian champions Juventus who were also runners up in the UCL last season, while Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool will all be rather happy with their draws.

United have been drawn against Spanish side Sevilla, Liverpool will face FC Porto and Man City clash with Basel.

Below is the draw in full, while UEFA has also released the schedule for the games with Man City, Spurs, Liverpool and Man United all playing their second legs at home.


Report: Whitecaps teen sensation Davies could have Man United trial

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The 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup saw a lot of young faces in competition, and one name that really seemed to stick came from Canada’s national team.

[ MORE: Five players LA FC should consider selecting in MLS Expansion Draft ]

Vancouver Whitecaps attacker Alphonso Davies has been doing it for both club and country since making his Major League Soccer debut in 2016, and now the young Canada international could be making a massive leap.

According to CTV Edmonton, the 17-year-old has been contacted by Premier League side Manchester United for a trial in January.

Davies would need clearance from the Whitecaps to join the Red Devils to train, however, with it being MLS’ offseason it’s hard to imagine the Cascadia club not allowing the former Edmonton Strikers player to seize the opportunity.

In 2017, Davies appeared in 26 matches for the Whitecaps and registered one assist for Carl Robinson’s side.

Davies has already become a regular with the Canada national team, after previously receiving call ups from the Under-15, U-18 and U-20 teams.

Five players LA FC should consider selecting in MLS Expansion Draft

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Los Angeles FC will take another big step towards its entry into Major League Soccer next season on Tuesday when the 2017 MLS Expansion Draft commences.

Bob Bradley and his side will have the opportunity to select up to five players during the Expansion Draft, however, the team can only choose one player per club.

[ MORE: Rimando, Pontius among MLS free agents ]

MLS sides had to select their list of 11 protected players by Sunday evening in order to put them off limits from LA FC. Any player not protected by their club is available for selection.

After exploring some of the names of those left unprotected, PST takes a look at five players LA FC should select in Tuesday’s Expansion Draft.

Maxime Chanot — (CB from New York City FC)

He’s 28 years old, and helped build one of the better central defensive partnerships in MLS last season with Alex Callens, prior to his injury. NYCFC could be banking on the fact that his injury will prevent him from getting back to his previous level, but there’s no question Chanot is the sort of player that could anchor the LA FC back line for five-plus seasons.

David Ousted — (GK from Vancouver Whitecaps)

Made 90-plus saves in four of his five seasons with the Whitecaps, and overall one of the top goalkeepers in MLS. The Denmark native has recorded 36 shutouts in his time with the Cascadia side, and helped guide the Whitecaps to the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference in 2017. With Real Salt Lake not picking up Nick Rimando’s contract, the veteran USMNT shot-stopper could also be an option for LA FC, however, Ousted is younger and arguably better at this stage of his career.

Marco Urena — (FWD from San Jose Earthquakes)

The 27-year-old may not be on many people’s radars, but the Costa Rican had five goals and three assists last season for the Quakes. Urena was tied for second on the team in goals, and provides a solid veteran player on a new LA FC side. While Carlos Vela will be the focal point up front for the newcomers, Urena is the sort of player that could player a very important supporting role.

Osvaldo Alonso — (MID from Seattle Sounders)

The Designated Player contract could scare LA FC away because Alonso is 32 years old, but this is the type of guy you want in the center of the park. For nine seasons, Alonso has anchored the Sounders midfield, and he does all the dirty work that could very well help the transition of the expansion side’s back line in 2018.

Chris Tierney — (DEF from New England Revolution

Similar to Alonso, Tierney isn’t going to be the sexiest pick, but he’s had the MLS experience, and he’s likely a player that could move on from a team where he’s spent his entire career. His versatility in the midfield and defensively allows Tierney to be a highly-coveted asset, especially as a player that is capable of delivering a quality cross from down the left flank.