Steve Cherundolo was in the form of his life in 2010 and carried it over to 2011, plus Fabian Johnson and Timothy Chandler had chosen to play for the U.S., giving the Americans two young Bundesliga proven fullbacks on each side. The days of the adventurous Frankie Hejduk, never fit Jonathan Spector and every other disaster waiting to happen were gone. The Americans had sorted out their fullbacks for years to come.
Only here they stand, in 2013, with two complete inept fullbacks set to start against Germany. Worst of all, some of it is the team's own doing, or at least Jurgen Klinsmann's own doing.
Instead of Johnson at left back, Klinsmann is going to opt for DaMarcus Beasley at the position, with Johnson in the midfield. And at right back, Cherundolo and Chandler are not with the team so Geoff Cameron had to play there, only he was such a disaster against Belgium that Brad Evans is going to start. It's a nice MLS player and a midfielder out of position for the U.S.
Welcome to U.S. fullbacks circa 2009.
Johnson was supposed to be the Americans' answer at left back, yet he is now a midfielder. Maybe it is because Johnson has said that he likes playing midfield better, or maybe it is because Klinsmann wants more in the attack from his midfield. Whatever the reason, the best left back the U.S. has is not playing left back.
Instead, Beasley is at the position. A player whose national team career was left for dead in 2009 and who has started at four different positions for Puebla, none of them left back, will get the nod at the position. His performances in the Americans' last three matches at left back has convinced Klinsmann that he is the man for the job, 12 years after Beasley made his national team debut and at a position no other manager has thought it wise to play him at, just so Johnson can play in the midfield.
And while Johnson may prefer the midfield, there is no reason to believe he is a better midfielder than he is a left back. For a stretch last year, Johnson was one of the Bundesliga's better left backs. He hadn't played in the midfield for Hoffenheim until the tail end of the season and his best two matches came in the relegation playoff, when he got to feast on a 2.Bundesliga side.
At least that left back debacle is the Americans' own doing, though. It can be rectified, hopefully sooner rather than later. At right back, Klinsmann is simply shit out of luck.
Cherundolo has fallen victim to age as injuries have slowed him down. Either that or by choice, as he has chosen to put his club career ahead of his international career. Meanwhile Chandler is dealing with a knee injury.
Without his two best right backs, Klinsmann tried Cameron at right back, but only Tony Pulis has ever thought Cameron was acceptable at the position and every outing on the flank for the U.S. has proven Pulis wrong. Michael Parkhurst fell off the map once moving to Augsburg and has played twice in the last six months, while Evans is an option only as a last resort.
Apparently, the U.S. is down to their last resort.
There just aren't options for the U.S. on the right, leaving Klinsmann blameless for what is a major black hole. If only the same could be said of Klinsmann at left back.
An aging, out-of-position adventure on one side and a long-time, underwhelming MLS steward on the other. It's United States fullback in a time machine set for the 2000's.