The thinnest spot of the U.S. national team roster is fullback – right or left, it's just not a position of depth for the Americans. So it was pretty bad news when first-choice right back DeAndre Yedlin was injured and couldn't make the USMNT's roster for Friday's World Cup qualifier vs. Honduras (10:30 p.m. ET, FS1). Add in the fact that other options like Fabian Johnson, Eric Lichaj and Timmy Chandler are out and it looks like the USMNT needs to move onto what may be the fifth-choice right back.
Coach Bruce Arena is going to need to dip deeper into his fullback pool than he expected, but he does have these options:
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His primary position is as a centerback, but when he's played for the USMNT, it's mainly been as a right back. He's one of the closest choices next to a natural right back because Arena has exactly zero primary right backs available. He hasn't been able to find consistency in his stints with the USMNT, but the 31-year-old is an experienced starter in Liga MX, currently as a regular for Tijuana and he's played some right back for them.
The concern for Arena has to be, which Orozco will show up if he decides to start him vs. Honduras?
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The Stoke City defender is another centerback, but he also isn't a stranger to the right back spot, for both the USMNT and Stoke City. He's become a USMNT staple at centerback in recent years, in part because of his strong partnership with fellow centerback John Brooks. Together, they've been one of the best tandems the USMNT has seen in a while, so would Arena be willing to break that up? He could, if only because there are more centerback options than right back.
Still, if Cameron is still not 100 percent fit – he only recently returned from a months-long layoff – and asking him to do the running required of a fullback job might be pushing it. But the USMNT's more plentiful options at centerback might make this the best move.
Zusi has long been a winger for most of his career, but he has very recently been converted to right back. It has gone fine – Sporting Kansas City have given up just one goal in three games this season with Zusi there. But Zusi didn't look great for the USMNT as a right back during January friendlies – he had trouble tracking back and tracking runners at times as he adjusted to the new position.
But Arena doesn't have a ton of options here and he offered praise for Zusi's performances in January. Still, Zusi didn't even make Arena's initial oster – he was only added after Fabian Johnson had to be removed for injury.
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He's a midfielder, but he has played both fullback positions throughout his U.S. youth career and Jurgen Klinsmann put him back there too. He's versatile, which is a valuable thing, particularly when injuries and suspensions strike.
But it may also not be ideal to play Acosta in a role he doesn't play often. That's especially true in such an important World Cup qualifier.
Mark J. Rebilas
The choice? Geoff Cameron
There's an argument to be made for Oroczo because it causes minimal disruption with the rest of the back line, but he just hasn't shown enough in the USA shirt. Cameron can slot into right back and give the Americans good quality on that side. It also allows a player like Omar Gonzalez, Tim Ream, Walker Zimmerman or even Orozco takeover in their natural positions of centerback.
Cameron is good enough that he should be less troubled by playing a side position than anyone else and considering the Americans are down to their fifth(ish) choice, that's not bad.