Best position or not, Geoff Cameron has been forced to become a right back

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Michael Parkhurst has played well for the U.S. of late, the most recent example being this summer’s Gold Cup, but if he’s being called in for a World Cup Qualifier, Jurgen Klinsmann has a problem. Through four rounds of the Bundesliga season, the Augsburg defender has accumulated zero minutes of playing time. And that might be the most compassionate way to describe his season. The former Revolution stalwart hasn’t even made a game-day squad, yet when Brad Evans pulled out of this week’s qualifiers with a calf injury, he got Klinsmann’s call.

Steve covered this earlier in the week, but consider the road the U.S. travelled to get to this state. Steve Cherundolo started the cycle as the first choice right back, but injury concerns make the 34-year-old a serious doubt going forward. Timmy Chandler just hasn’t played well, and after trying so hard to keep the door for him, Klinsmann’s now reluctant to recall the German-born American. Brad Evans, a midfielder by trade, seemed to become first-choice though pure competence and intelligence, but when he’s not around, a player who can’t break into his club’s 18 gets recalled.

Given the dire straits at right back, the U.S. have one, clear, first-choice option for Costa Rica, though right back is not Geoff Cameron’s best position. In time, it may become his choice spot, the nominal center back, natural midfielder forced into a fullback’s role for Stoke City, but as we’ve seen when he’s played there with his national team, the transition remains a work in progress. At Stoke, he’s turned in a number of quality performances, but for the national team, when playing to the right of teammates with whom he doesn’t practice on a day-in, day-out basis, Cameron hasn’t looked his Potter-self.

Which, for more than just the teammate reason, is perfectly understandable. This is a player that used to fashion himself a midfielder — an attacking one, at that — but found his best success with Houston in central defense. That role saw him to MLS title games, into the national team, and eventually to the Premier League. Once there, he got some time in defensive midfield, even turning in a great shift in that role against Panama in World Cup Qualifying, but has eventually been asked to become a right back.

And by any reasonable standard, Cameron’s doing a good job. But it’s not his natural position. It’s not his favorite position. And in those times we see him struggle when pressed into service for the U.S., we can see it’s not his best position. Seattle reminded us he has a lot to give elsewhere.

To Cameron’s credit, he can pull it off. The U.S. have no reason to fear with him on the right. He isn’t perfect, he could improve, but he’s also not a glaring problem. That he is their obvious if only choice does speak to the sinkhole that’s developed on the depth chart. In an ideal situation, Cameron would either compete at other positions or be a spectacularly versatile option Klinsmann could employ in various roles.

This week, the U.S. depth issues likely confine him to one position. It’s something the team needs to address over the next eight months.

Peru’s World Cup foes lobby to overturn Guerrero’s ban

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Following last week’s decision handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Peru captain and talisman Paolo Guerrero has been banned from the 2018 World Cup — at the age of 34, almost certainly his last opportunity to star on the world’s biggest stage.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype ]

However, in the days since that decision, a number of Guerrero’s fellow professionals and World Cup stars — France and Denmark captains Hugo Lloris and Simon Kjaer, and Australia’s Mile Jedinak — have written to FIFA, on behalf of FIFPro, the world player union, in hopes of rendering Guerrero eligible to pay at next month’s tournament in Russia.

“We respectfully ask the Fifa Council to show compassion,” the trio wrote. “In our view it would be plainly wrong to exclude him from what should be a pinnacle of his career.”

[ MORE: Ronaldo hints at Real Madrid exit | Bale does the same ]

That Lloris, Kjaer and Jedinak are the players lobbying in favor of Guerrero is particularly notable given the fact that Peru will face France, Denmark and Australia in Group C.

Guerrero tested positive for cocaine late last year, after a tea he drank was tainted and triggered a fail drug test.

SKC, Crew SC play to 0-0 draw; VAR steals the show (again)

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — The game in 100 words (or less): Nothing ruins a good game of soccer more than controversies involving the referee — and now that VAR is active within MLS, yet another failure of the video-review system to correct the most “clear and obvious” of wrong decisions. There is no longer any rhyme or reason in deciding whether or not to utilize what could be a very helpful tool. Check the third video further down this page to comprehend the absurdity of VAR in Sporting Kansas City’s 0-0 draw with Columbus Crew SC on Sunday. As for the actual soccer which was played, Tim Melia made one save to deny Gyasi Zardes with a point-blank header early in the first half, and a second to deny Zardes rom the penalty spot just before halftime. Despite being a back-and-forth affair between the league’s second- and third-place teams with a chance to take the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race, there were just six shots on target in total and genuine scoring chances were few and far between.

[ PREVIEW: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype ]

Three moments that mattered

43′ — Zardes wins a PK, but Melia makes the save — Melia was responsible for giving away the penalty kick, and he more than made up for it by denying Zardes moments later.

45+6′ — Higuain puts studs into Espinoza, sees red — Originally not called a foul, changed to a red card following video review. On the softer side of red cards (just an opinion).

59′ — Martinez takes a swing at Sinovic, but no video review — At this point, it’s just time to disband the entire VAR experiment. It’s turned MLS into a clown show and an embarrassment. Signed, someone who was initially in favor of VAR, assuming MLS would utilize it properly.

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

Man of the match: Tim Melia

Goalscorers: None

Rayo Vallecano win promotion back to La Liga

Photo credit: Rayo Vallecano / @RayoVallecano
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MADRID (AP) Rayo Vallecano earned promotion to Spain’s top division after beating Lugo 1-0 in a second-tier league game on Sunday.

Alex Moreno’s goal for the hosts in the 40th minute sealed Rayo’s return to La Liga after two seasons away.

Huesca had already secured promotion last weekend with a 2-0 victory at Lugo.

The third team to move up will be the winner of a two-round playoff between the four teams that finish the season from third to sixth.

Malaga, Las Palmas and Deportivo La Coruna were all relegated from the top flight this season.

FOLLOW LIVE: West leaders SKC host East’s 2nd-best Crew SC

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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City host Columbus Crew SC, the Eastern Conference’s second-place side, at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday with both sides capable of overtaking Atlanta United for top spot in the Supporters’ Shield race.

[ FOLLOW: SKC vs. Crew SC in top-of-the-table clash ]

Sporting KC, who are unbeaten in three straight and have lost just once since opening day (11 games), lead expansion side Los Angeles FC in the West. Meanwhile, Crew SC enter Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash unbeaten in their last six games (four wins) and trail the league leaders from Atlanta by a single point.

Hit the link above to follow along throughout the afternoon, and check back with PST for coverage after the final whistle.