Skip to content

Major League Soccer positional Top Tens: RIGHT BACKS

Feb 22, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT

Vancouver Whitecaps v FC Dallas Getty Images

There was a time when Major League Soccer fullback play meant there was very little distinction between the league’s best right backs. Whether that was down to talent, tactics, talent acquisition, or the lingering biases from the broader soccer culture, you used to be able to throw the names of MLS’s best backs into a hat and pull an almost indistinguishable, defensively accountable, decent crossing dude out of the lot.

It’s wasn’t that the players weren’t good. It’s that a league with a salary cap that provided limited financial resources forced choices. And those choices highlighted how that position was perceived within the North American game.

Now things are changing. The salary cap’s going up. More athletic players are being groomed into the position. The tactics are changing.

Major League Soccer’s wide defenders are slowly starting to reflect the attacking quality that has defined fullback play across the globe. It’s part of a product that continues to improve.

As with the goalkeepers, there was a wildcard or two which forced us to demur. It’s possible Portland’s Ryan Miller plays his way onto this list in a couple of months, and we’ll have to wait and see how the playing time in New York shakes out.

Until then, here’s how we see Major League Soccer’s Top 10 Right Backs:

1. Vancouver’s Lee Young-Pyo (pictured) >

One year in the league, and the South Korean is a clear number one. It’s no surprise. The South Korean came to BC Place with 127 international notches on his belt. Set to turn 36 in April, we’re yet to see evidence of him slowing down.

2. Real Salt Lake’s Tony Beltran
3. San Jose Earthquakes’ Steven Beitashour >

A strong 2012 vaulted the aspiring U.S. international to this position, but recovering from a sports hernia injury he played through at the end of last season, the 26-year-old may be hard pressed to duplicate 2012’s form. It’s likely to be a small road bump in a promising career.

4. Sporting Kansas City’s Chance Myers
5. LA Galaxy’s Sean Franklin >

There was a time when Franklin would have been at the top of this list, a status that won him a national team look under the previous administration. Last year, his defending was more problematic than in previous seasons (as Steve Zakuani showed in the playoffs), but if he can return to his former, slightly more stalwart self, the two-time MLS Cup winner could be the second best right back in the league.

6. FC Dallas’ Zach Loyd
7. Philadelphia’s Sheanon Williams >
8. New England Revolution’s Kevin Alston >

This is where the list gets cloudy. Williams, however, has been one of the few reliable parts of a Union team that’s been down-up-down in its first three years. Alston, a former All-Star, still has all the skills, but like much of what we’ve seen from New England, things could be better.

9. Toronto FC’s Richard Eckersley >
10. Seattle Sounders’ Adam Johansson >

Take your pick between Eckersley and Johansson, and your pick will likely reflect your preferences in fullbacks. Eckersley’s reliable at the back and tries to get forward. Johnsson can provide plus play in attack while trying to hold up his end of the bargain in defense.

(MORE: the entire roster of ProSoccerTalk’s Major League Soccer previews and predictions)

 

Latest Posts
  1. Chelsea sign center back Papy Djilobodji from Nantes

    Sep 1, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Paris Saint-Germain FC v FC Nantes - Ligue 1 Paris Saint-Germain FC v FC Nantes - Ligue 1

    Senegal international arrives at the Bridge to bolster Chelsea’s backline.

  2. Everton sign defender Mori for $14.5 million from River Plate

    Sep 1, 2015, 9:50 AM EDT

    FBL-ARGENTINA-RIVER-BANFIELD Getty Images

    Toffees seal deal for Argentine international center back.

  3. Deadline Day transfer rumor roundup: Hector to Chelsea, Berahino to Tottenham

    Sep 1, 2015, 9:02 AM EDT

    West Bromwich Albion v Manchester City - Premier League Getty Images

    A quick look around the PL as the whispers continue ahead of the 1 p.m. ET deadline.

  4. Big Spenders: Which Premier League clubs must go all-in on transfer deadline day?

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:48 PM EDT

    Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC

    Three Premier League sides have some serious work to do on transfer deadline day. Who needs what?

  5. Top 5 reasons we’ll all miss Harry Redknapp on transfer deadline day

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Harry Redknapp, wheeler-dealer Getty Images

    Harry Redknapp was the ultimate star of transfer deadline day. Tuesday will be a sad, empty day without Harry around.

  6. Done Deals: Recapping Man United (and others’) busy day — De Gea drama; Chicharito out; $56 million for Martial

    Aug 31, 2015, 7:39 PM EDT

    Javier "Chicaharito" Hernandez & David de Gea, Manchester United FC Javier "Chicaharito" Hernandez & David de Gea, Manchester United FC

    Manchester United were the world’s busiest football club on Monday. They, along with others, made headlines ahead of the transfer deadline.

  7. NO DEAL: David de Gea’s transfer to Real Madrid falls through as Man United paperwork arrives too late

    Aug 31, 2015, 6:53 PM EDT

    150831_deGea Getty Images

    Manchester United failed to submit the necessary paperwork before Spain’s transfer deadline, and De Gea will not move to Real Madrid.

  8. MLS Player of the Week — Week 26: New York Red Bulls’ Bradley Wright-Phillips

    Aug 31, 2015, 4:05 PM EDT

    Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls Getty Images

    Two goals, one assist in a 3-0 victory over your club’s most hated rivals — more than enough to win POTW honors.

  9. MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 26

    Aug 31, 2015, 3:20 PM EDT

    Michael Bradley, Toronto FC Michael Bradley, Toronto FC

    Two Bradleys, two from Crew SC and two from the Dynamo — the latest MLS Team of the Week.

  10. Monday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Mahrez to Arsenal, Witsel to Spurs

    Aug 31, 2015, 2:11 PM EDT

    Witsel Getty Images

    Yes, rumors know no season, but the transfer mill will churn out a lot less gossip after Tuesday’s end of the summer transfer season.

  11. Report: De Gea moving to Madrid as Costa Rican hero Navas heads to Old Trafford

    Aug 31, 2015, 1:42 PM EDT

    David de Gea won Manchester United's Player of the Year award in what was likely a landslide. Getty Images

    Manchester United and Real Madrid have swapped goalkeepers, with the Premier League side landing a load of dough, too.

  12. VIDEO: Premier League Team of the Week — Round 4

    Aug 31, 2015, 1:23 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Everton - Premier League Getty Images

    The UEFA Champions League clubs don’t find themselves well-represented in the Premier League Team of the Week after a weekend of shocks around Britain.

  13. Fireworks as transfer deadline passes in Germany: Draxler to Wolfsburg, Januzaj to Dortmund

    Aug 31, 2015, 12:32 PM EDT

    Draxler AP

    We’re still waiting to see whether Javier Hernandez seals his move to Bayer Leverkusen. “Chicharito” has been spotted around Bayer HQ.

  14. VIDEO: Premier League Player of the Week — Round 4

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:23 AM EDT

    Swansea City's Bafetimbi Gomis, left, celebrates scoring his side's second goal beside Manchester United's Luke Shaw during the English Premier League soccer match between Swansea City and Manchester United at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea, Wales, Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015.  (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) AP

    The Black Panther is doing more than simply prowling; He is finishing his chances with style.

  15. Miami FC confirms AC Milan, Lazio legend Alessandro Nesta as first manager

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT

    Defender Alessandro Nesta slips on his new jersey after signing with the Montreal Impact soccer team, Friday, July 6, 2012, in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson) AP

    The 2006 World Cup champion will organize Miami FC for co-owner Paolo Maldini during the club’s first season in the NASL.

  16. Premier League Playback: It’s time to change the Transfer Window rules

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:51 AM EDT

    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 23:  John Stones of Everton applauds the fans prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park on August 23, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) Getty Images

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an in-depth look back at the PL weekend.

Featured video

MOTD: United's offensive struggles