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Can you play left back? Maybe you should call Jurgen Klinsmann

Jun 7, 2012, 9:45 PM EDT

U.S. men s national soccer team head coach Klinsmann greets player Castillo before a practice session in Philadelphia

TAMPA, Fla. – The U.S. left backs are dropping like wet flies.

American coach Jurgen Klinsmann revealed minutes ago that it’s doubtful either Fabian Johnson, the recently enshrined first choice at U.S. left back, or backup Edgar Castillo can play in Friday’s qualifier against Antigua and Barbuda.

Johnson had already more or less been ruled out after picking up an injury during warmups of Sunday’s friendly in Canada. He jogged around the field during Thursday’s final practice prior to tomorrow’s 7 p.m. ET kickoff.

After practice, Klinsmann informed reporters that Castillo “pulled a hamstring.” He didn’t offer many details other than to say the Club Tijuana man (Castillo is pictured at right, along with Klinsmann) probably could not play Friday. So, who does that leave?

“We always have left backs; anybody can play left back,” Klinsmann said with a laugh. “We’ll figure it out.”

Again, this is all against the backdrop banner that reads “It really doesn’t matter.” Klinsmann and Co. are up against Antigua and Barbuda, a twin-island with a population about the size of a major U.S. suburb.

So, who are his choices? Carlos Bocanegra has played left back before, but he’s the central anchor onto which Klinsmann has been attaching the “trialists” over the last three matches. Geoff Cameron has attacking skills and has played outside midfielder before.

Steve Cherundolo could presumably play as an inverted fullback – a right-footer on the left side, a la German veteran Philipp Lahm, who was among Klinsmann’s German collection at World Cup 2006. Or it could be Michael Parkhurst, who is currently backing up Cherundolo on the right.

  1. Jason Chalifour - Jun 7, 2012 at 9:54 PM

    This makes not calling up Eric Lichaj look even worse. He is starting in the Premier League and is clearly the 2nd best American fullback since Timmy Chandler doesn’t want to be American anymore (or at least an American International).

    • lukesandblom - Jun 7, 2012 at 10:40 PM

      jason you are correct.

    • schmutzdeck - Jun 8, 2012 at 1:16 PM

      Jason,

      Your view is slightly extreme.

      There are 23 spots on a tournament roster, 3 keepers and 2 players for each position.
      The two left backs starter and backup both got injured, an unlikely event. Given the scenario, if Lichaj had been picked instead of Edgar then he would have been hurt and the US would still be in this position. Or are you saying he would not have been hurt like Castillo was? Is Lichaj invulnerable?

      “Eric Lichaj ….is starting in the Premier League and is clearly the 2nd best American fullback”

      So which fullback is he is better than Dolo or Fabian? Dolo is the captain and long time and current starter for Hannover. Fabian is a regular starter for Hoffenheim, has played more first team games than Lichaj and frankly, is a superior soccer player and fullback to Lichaj. I don’t buy that the standard of play at a club like Villa is so much higher than what Johnson gets at Hoffenheim or what Dolo faces at Hannover.

      Dolo is a proven vet who is still playing at a high level. Fabian is a younger, proven regular starter who has just finished his season in the Bundesliga on a very high note.

      Lichaj is not a proven starter like those two. Lichaj has been a pro with Villa since 2008 and still has only 15 league starts with them including these last 10. It’s not clear that he has ever beaten anyone out long term or won a starter’s spot. He may not even be with Villa next season. They were awful last year, the manager was fired and no one is safe. He recently started 10 games in the EPL because of injury to the starter. Villa won none of those games and gave up 14 goals in them. That is not an encouraging performance by anyone in the Villa defense.

      If JK had called Eric up I would not have had a problem with that but I also had no problem with JK, who has never had Lichaj in camp, waiting and seeing how Lichaj starts next year.

      A little perspective is in order. With all due respect, Antigua might be able to give the Charleston Battery a good game and if the USMNT can’t beat the Battery, well ……….If the US can’t come up with a reasonable solution for Antigua ( like slotting Cameron at left back or playing a 3-4-3 with Dolo, Goodson/Gooch/Cameron[pick one] and Boca) then fire JK now.

      As for Guatemala, if still necessary, it seems to me we can probably call in someone like Loyd or Heath Pearce in by then.

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