On Sunday, United States men’s national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann named a 20-man squad for the team’s final two World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica and Panama.
Then on Tuesday, it was announced that Omar Gonzalez was withdrawing from the squad due to a hip injury he sustained while playing this weekend with the L.A. Galaxy.
Once that happened, it became widely assumed in USMNT fan circles that Geoff Cameron would replace Gonzalez in the starting XI at center-back alongside Matt Besler.
However, with the team’s situation at right-back much more in flux than at center-back, Cameron should be starting on the right when the U.S. takes on Jamaica Friday night or against Panama next week.
At center-back, the U.S. has Besler, Gonzalez, Cameron, Clarence Goodson and potentially Michael Orozco and John Anthony Brooks.
Currently at right-back, the U.S. has Brad Evans and…Brad Evans.
While there are certainly some other candidates to take the right-back job, such as Timmy Chandler, Michael Parkhurst, Jonathan Spector, Eric Lichaj, Steve Cherundolo and possibly Michael Orozco, all of those players have some significant downsides.
Cameron, on the other hand, plays right-back on a regular basis in the English Premier League—a pedigree that only Chandler and Cherundolo can match.
Who should be the U.S. starting right-back?
The knock on Cameron as a right-back revolves around two common criticisms. First, at Stoke, Cameron has not shown great attacking skill, something Klinsmann prefers from his outside backs.
However, much of that was due to the overly defensive style of former manager Tony Pulis. Under new manager Mark Hughes, Cameron has done much better getting forward.
The second knock on Cameron at right-back stems from his performance against Belgium. Cameron struggled against the skilled Belgians, but so did most of the U.S. squad.
And, if one shaky game is what decisions are being based on, Timmy Chandler, Michael Parkhurst, Jonathan Spector, Eric Lichaj and Michael Orozco should be dropped from the discussion right now.
The fact is the U.S. has plenty of options at center-back but few proven reliable options at right-back except Steve Cherundolo, who is still recovering from multiple recent knee surgeries.
The team only has five games with the full squad available before the World Cup training camp begins next May and at least one of the next two games needs to be used to give Cameron another run-out at right-back.
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