[USA MEN] It looks more and more likely Steve Cherundolo won't be around for his fourth World Cup. The Mayor of Hannover faces his third knee surgery this year that will sideline him indefinitely and leaves Brad Evans, for the moment, as the No. 1 choice at right back. What are Jurgen Klinsmann's options?
The 34-year-old Cherundolo, who earned his first cap in 1999, is the longest-serving member of the national team and
started five of six games in the semifinal round of World Cup 2014 qualifying, but he hasn't played a game for the national team in 2013.
Cherundolo's savvy, skill on the ball and ability
to combine down the right side are a package none of the other players currently at Klinsmann's disposal possess.
U.S. Starters-Right Back (2013):
Beltran (1) Canada 0-0 (friendly)
Chandler (1) @Honduras 1-2 (WCQ)
Cameron (1) Costa Rica 1-0 (WCQ)
Cameron (2) @Mexico 0-0 (WCQ)
Cameron (3) Belgium 2-4 (friendly)
Evans (1) Germany 4-3
Evans (2) @Jamaica 2-1 (WCQ)
Evans (3) Panama 2-0 (WCQ)
Evans (4) Honduras 1-0 (WCQ)
Parkhurst (1) Guatemala 6-0 (friendly)
Parkhurst (2) Belize 6-1
Beltran (2) Cuba 4-1 (GC)
Parkhurst (3) Costa Rica 1-0 (GC)
Parkhurst (4) El Salvador 5-1 (GC)
Parkhurst (5) Honduras 3-1 (GC)
Parkhurst (6) Panama 1-0
Evans (5) @Bosnia-Herzegovina 4-3 (friendly)
Note: Total starts in parentheses.
five players have started at right back in Cherundolo's place in 2013, Evans is the current No. 1. He started at right back in the last three qualifiers -- all wins -- and started there in the 4-3 win
over Bosnia-Herzegovina even though he doesn't play there for the Seattle Sounders.
Michael Parkhurst helped his cause with a solid Gold Cup, but
he doesn't even dress for German club Augsburg and will probably need to switch clubs if he wants to remain in the picture.
Timmy Chandler began
the Klinsmann era as Cherundolo's heir apparent but Klinsmann didn't even bother calling him up for the BiH match. First things first: Chandler will need to regain his starting job at Nuremberg.
Geoff Cameron remains an option at right back -- he's starting there for Stoke City -- even if Klinsmann prefers him at center back or as a holding
Real Salt Lake's Tony Beltran has started twice this year but would be considered no higher than a third or fourth choice if everyone
There are other options, but they're longshots:
-- Klinsmann has categorized Fabian Johnson as a left back, left
midfielder and central midfielder, but he is actually right-footed. Johnson's consistent play on the left side of midfield has been in a big factor in the "A" team's recent success, so Klinsmann will
be very reluctant to break up his lineup, but he'll have to address the issue of where to play Landon Donovan. If he inserts Donovan on the left side of
midfield, Klinsmann will have to drop either Johnson or DaMarcus Beasley unless he wants to try Johnson at right back.
-- Right back is one of the
strongest positions for young Americans in MLS -- Seattle rookie DeAndre Yedlin, who made the MLS all-star team, the Revs' Andrew Farrell, the 2013 No. 1 draft pick, Philly's Sheanon Williams, among others -- but Klinsmann has shown little inclination to bring along
young players quickly.
-- Jonathan Spector was supposed to be called in for the March qualifiers but was a last-second scratch after picking up an
ankle injury. Playing in the League Championship for Birmingham City won't help his cause, just as it means a Klinsmann call-up will remain elusive for Eric
Lichaj, now starting -- and playing well -- at Nottingham Forest.