There are a lot of players the U.S. men's national team wouldn't want to lose, but the injury of Fabian Johnson causes the most disruption possible. That's because Johnson is a first-choice starter at multiple positions, including left wing, right back and left back.
In a surprise twist, the Americans seem to have decent enough depth at left back right these days that it appears Johnson would've either started as a left winger or as a right back. Johnson's primary club position is at left wing, but the Americans are missing three right backs (DeAndre Yedlin, Eric Lichaj, Timmy Chandler), so Johnson may have played right back.
Given that, we need to look at both positions to assess who will coach Bruce Arena use to replace Johnson, and here's who we came up with:
At this point, it's unclear if Morris will be ready for Friday's match. In the day's leading up to it, he has been day-to-day. But the young striker can and has played as a left winger for the Seattle Sounders, including in their magical playoff run last season, and it's a role he could reprise for the USMNT, if healthy.
Christopher HanewinckelChristopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA
Left wing: Darlington Nagbe
While Nagbe can play in a lot of positions, it looks like left wing is his home these days. He played there for the USMNT in January and looked good doing it, earning good reviews from Arena and analysts alike. He has found success in the spot for the Portland Timbers too.
Jake RothJake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Left wing: Sebastian Lletget
The wing is not his main role, but he can and does play it well. Lletget played centrally for the USMNT in January, when he earned the highest of praise from his teammates and Arena. But his ability to read the game makes him an adaptable player, and indeed he floated out wide at times for the USMNT in January and looked plenty capable.
Jake RothJake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Left wing: Christian Pulisic
He's yet another player who can play both centrally or along the flanks, but his most stable position of late has been on the right wing, for both the USMNT and Borussia Dortmund. That doesn't mean he couldn't slot into the left spot if Arena would like to put someone like Alejandro Bedoya or even Graham Zusi there, though.
Trevor RuszkowskiTrevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Spor
Right back: Michael Orozco
He's mainly a centerback, but he can easily slot into right back, which is where he has mostly played for the USMNT. He's in good form for Tijuana these days, but he's never been a very consistent defender for the USMNT.
Mark J. RebilasMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Right back: Graham Zusi
While Arena has praised Zusi in the midfielder's recent forays into right back, it's clear that Zusi is pretty far from the first-choice starter at right back. The question is whether the absences of Johnson, Yedlin, Lichaj and Chandler get Arena far enough down the depth chart to consider Zusi.
Mike DinovoMike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Right back: Geoff Cameron
He's another centerback, and he is arguably the centerback choice next to John Brooks. He's coming off a months-long injury, so there are lingering doubts, but he'd be the best choice at either centerback next to Brooks or at right back, creating a dilemma for Arena.
Right back: Kellyn Acosta
He has his share of experience at right back, but these days his dedicated position is in the central midfield. Acosta is an option, sure, but it's difficult to see Arena opting for Acosta over the other choices he has.
Mark J. Rebilas
Our choice: Darlington Nagbe and Geoff Cameron
Although Nagbe is a difficult player to define because he plays so well in so many roles, left wing is his position right now for the Timbers and it's where he should play for the USMNT. As an inverted winger, he is very good at cutting inside and providing support centrally. And the USMNT will need that if Arena is forced to go to a lone-striker formation due to mounting striker injuries.
But even if not, Nagbe still makes sense on the wing because the other best choices don't belong there. A player like Lletget is the best candidate to replace suspended Jermaine Jones centrally and Christian Pulisic is more likely on the right wing or centrally. Morris may not even be an option, but the lack of depth at striker right now make it's probable Morris would play up top.
We already dug into our pick of Cameron for right back in our analysis on Yedlin's injury, which you can read here.
Isaiah J. DowningIsaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports