Oct 11, 2012, 11:17 AM EST
What is this, 1998? Or 2004? Or 2008? This disconcerting situation with the U.S. left back position … what a kick in the head!
What’s worst, it’s a kick in the head that we’ve absorbed before.
It’s not just that an injury crisis is cracking the United States at the worst time, leaving the Americans vulnerable when everything is at stake. Jurgen Klinsmann and Co. will be favored Friday and again on Tuesday. But any little stumble could prove fatal to the World Cup qualifying bid – before it even reaches the final round!
Still, it’s more than that. Why did it have to be left back?
That’s been the trouble child position around the U.S. national team for more than a decade. It’s a burr in the boot that has hastened the graying of coaches for 15 years before Klinsmann, the likes of Steve Sampson, Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley.
So, this illness that will keep Fabian Johnson out of Friday’s qualifier in Antigua and Edgar Castillo out of both upcoming matches looks like bad karma biting. What did we do? Why must it be left back again?
Surely the soccer gods cannot still be upset over the whole David Regis thing, right? I mean, we shouldn’t have done it. Still, naturalizing the Frenchman just in time for World Cup ’98 was a half-baked idea, but it’s not exactly drowning kittens, now is it?
This is like having a long, dry spell when you’re single. You finally find a girlfriend, and she’s great! … Right up to the minute her company transfers here to Cairo.
(Johnson is the beloved in this scenario, in case you couldn’t figure that out; he’s been quite a find.)
Here is a partial list of left backs through the years who landed in the “Meh” zone, somewhere between “just OK, but fairly underwhelming” to “just plain awful.” Some, in fairness, were left-footed midfielders or center backs asked to play the position because … well, because of the limping U.S. left back condition, where better options were forever being sought. (Names are in alphabetical order):
- Jeff Agoos
- DaMarcus Beasley
- Gregg Berhalter
- Jonathan Bornstein
- Bobby Convey
- Ramiro Corrales
- Todd Dunivant
- Cory Gibbs
- Jay Heaps
- Eddie Lewis
- Zach Loyd
- Heath Pearce
- David Regis
- Jonathan Spector
- Greg Vanney
That list doesn’t even include Eric Lichaj, who played left back for important Gold Cup matches in 2011. He was pretty adept over that short run, but it wasn’t his best spot. And then along came Johnson (and Timmy Chandler), so further experimentation with Lichaj seemed unnecessary and maybe even redundant.
Nor does it include a couple of one-offs, such as Anthony Wallace.
I wrote this story in 2008. So, it’s funny … although certainly not funny “ha-ha,” as they say. It’s just that, suddenly, so many of these words are relevant once again.
- Prindi’s Premier League Picks: Sunderland and Everton to upset odds 0
- Kyle Martino chats Andre Villas-Boas drama and Premier League parity 0
- Mike Magee Wins 2013 MLS Most Valuable Player Award 3
- USA fear toughest ever World Cup draw but relish chance to make history 2
- 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw: Everything you need to know 2
- Premier League Playback: Moyes needs more, Suarez is Superman, Altidore (finally) off the mark 1
- The Benny Feilhaber Conundrum: Has Peter Vermes finally solved the puzzle? 1
- Real Salt Lake’s 2013: The not-so-rebuilding year that could end in an MLS title 1
- Sit down with Orlando City SC: Taking on Beckham, emulating the Timbers and Kaka in 2015 – Part I (21)
- USA drop one spot to 14th in latest FIFA World Rankings, Portugal surge to fifth (20)
- What US Soccer wants from the World Cup draw (20)
- Video of Jermaine Jones’ terrific goal Saturday for Schalke (18)
- 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw: The sum of all fears scenario for the United States (17)