Fair to wonder if Aston Villa’s Eric Lichaj might soon lap Jonathan Spector in the pecking order of national team fullbacks, especially given Spector’s recent injury struggles at promotion-minded Birmingham City.
An ailing Spector was removed from his team’s March 13 loss at Leicester City and has yet to reappear. He hopes to return by next weekend.
Meanwhile, Lichaj got into Aston Villa’s lineup Saturday, even getting forward to score a relatively simple put-away in his side’s 4-2 loss to Chelsea. That was his first Premier League goal for Villa, although Lichaj did strike in a League Cup match early this season.
So, this seems like a great spot to introduce ProSoccerTalk’s fluid, segmented U.S. depth chart. It’s our guess on what’s on Jurgen Klinsmann’s big blackboard inside the Home Depot Center office.
We’ll adjust these in “real time” and post them periodically, whenever it makes sense. Here’s the situation at right back, also known as “Steve Cherundolo manor.”
1. Steve Cherundolo
2. Tim Chandler
3. Jonathan Spector
4. Eric Lichaj
5. Zach Loyd
6. A.J. DeLaGarza
Explainers and rationale: Some people have been trying to bump Cherundolo off his post for years, which is really inexplicable. He remains one of the most consistent men in a U.S. shirt.
Since Candler is the top choice left back now, being No. 3 here isn’t a bad spot at all. You could almost interchange Lichaj and Spector; it might even be a game-by-game choice, depending on whether the day required more defending (Spector) or more attacking and speed (Lichaj
For now, we’ll guess that Spector is ahead, based on the simple fact that he’s been in games and camps under Klinsmann, while Villa’s young defender has yet to be capped in the Klinsmann era. On the other hand, Lichaj is a little younger (23) and might be seen as less of a finished product than Spector (26). That’s a plus in his corner.
Lichaj, by the way, can play left back as well. That’s where he turned in a couple of impressive performances at last year’s Gold Cup, despite a lack of inexperience playing on that side.
Danny Williams, a midfielder who got on the field as a left back late against Slovenia in November, could conceivably slip into the outside back thinking at some point this year.