Thursday, September 19, 2013

Welcome to "How Fast Can You Run Away From This Post?"!!!

It's my idea for a new internet game show. Here's how I came up with it...

Eric Lichaj
Edgar Castillo
Jonathan Spector

Yeah yeah yeah, I know. Too bad. Come October, if Klinsi does not call up Lichaj - a speedy guy who can play both sides at about the same level - it may eventually prove to be a major error in judgment. Am I being overly dramatic? To be honest, I can't be 100% sure. And neither can anyone else. As it stands, the guy is killin' it early in the Championship, a league that can actually be more difficult to adapt to than the Prem because of the breakneck match pace (just ask Tim Ream about that).

Castillo, meanwhile, seems to be getting a bit more comfy at the international level. Some may scoff, but it says here he could prove of use against teams with a South/Central American style. Then again, he could miss the boat entirely. Spector is a fairly experienced, reliable option who can play on both flanks. Beyond that, MLS youngsters like Colorado's Chris Klute and even Seattle right back DeAndre Yedlin could reasonably get auditions here over the next year.

This is probably the shakiest top three on my entire depth chart. So much so that I even considered temporarily giving Fabian Johnson the spot to keep it warm until an actual left back can emerge. In the end, it was a case of sticking to the guns. Let's face it: continually playing wingers in this spot will only keep it a weakness.

At some point, and that point is hopefully now here, we need to season some proper left backs if we ever want to stop fretting the position ad nauseum. Deal with it.




- Greg Seltzer

64 comments:

dikranovich said...

this is not even funny, and eric lichaj is a decent player, but now you have him wrong footed, and he is clearly stronger on the right. damn greg, why do you wanna be so cavalier with these picks? I wish it made more sense, and I could say... yes greg, now you are getting it.

dikranovich said...

shoot, how fast DID I run to this post? Castillo second, ahh, whatever. funny thing is that out of all the left backs in the player pool, it might be edger who is most suited to move up to a more forward position, and he is most likely to get burnt like toast if he plays left back.

seeing spector on this list is a clear sign to me that something is wrong with the lists.

dikranovich said...

and this stuff is, according to the author, based on current form.

my mother f&^king ass!!!!

greg, I would feel a lot more comfortable with your picks, if you had a pair and put lichaj on the right, where he is clearly excelling instead of this manufactured stuff.

Greg Seltzer said...

Castillo would have no chance at all to make the left wing depth chart. None. Zero.

And what, pray tell, is your glitch regarding Spector? The main reason he hasn't been involved much under Klinsi is injury troubles.

TRIVIA TIME: Name the only USMNT defender who contributed to both the '09 win over Spain and the '12 win in Italy.

Greg Seltzer said...

"and this stuff is, according to the author, based on current form."


I have explicitly and repeatedly argued with everyone I can find to swear up and down that current form is far from the only factor to consider.

You come here and just Dick Van Dyke the entire living room. And then nobody else wants to converse. Next time you post something like this that is so belligerently against reality, I'm just gonna bin it and move on.

dikranovich said...

greg, you categorize my every comment as being blatantly against reality.

its your defense mechanism.

not having Fabian Johnson #1 on this list, that's blatantly against reality

Jolazo said...

Why do you have Spector at left back, considering your strong preference toward guys playing their natural position? Left back isn't even Spector's secondary position. In fact, outside of a 15 minute cameo against Italy, I can't remember him ever playing left back.

Greg Seltzer said...

1 - No, sir. *YOU* categorize your own comments.

2 - You should go tell that to Klinsi.

dikranovich said...

whatever the case, you have already agreed that these are moving parts and who starts today may very well not be who starts tomorrow.

Frankie hejduk was a huge help qualifying last time around, and by the time south Africa rolled around, surfer dude was out to pasture, drinking seven cups of starbucks a day

dikranovich said...

jolazo, spector played left back once or twice back in 07.

Greg Seltzer said...

He also played some left back for ManU and Charlton.

Jolazo said...

That's still somewhere between 6 and 8 years ago. A long time for a guy who has played center midfield and right back almost exclusively since then.

dikranovich said...

greg, put Fabian Johnson at the top of the left back list. do that and move lichaj over to the other side, and I think we can all go to sleep tonight rather comfortably.

I slept in Portland international airport last night, so im getting a good nights sleep pretty much no matter what tonight.

Greg Seltzer said...

You may think so, but I don't agree it's some lost skill. Besides, let's remember the recent LB is a guy who had played all of two games at the position (one of them openly tragic) when moved there. But like I said, this is a problem spot that in part we've created on our own. As such, it requires some manner of invention at this time.

dikranovich said...

if you have a pulse, and you like Fabian Johnson on the left and e. lee hi on the right, please vote!!!

rock the vote

Jolazo said...

Are you at all concerned that 2 of your 3 left backs are right footed, especially given Klinsmann preference for attacking down the left with an overlapping fullback? Would you swap that strategy and attack down the right given your formation?

Greg Seltzer said...

I don't agree that Klinsi inherently has favored attacking down the left. That's mostly something that happens when Beasley is there, and not even every time. When Cherundolo or Parkhurst is in there, we move down the right far more anyway.

dikranovich said...

im coo coo for cocoa puffs!!!!

AWF08 said...

I guess I'm one of the very few who thinks that Beasley is our best option if we're putting FJ at left wing...
Now, if we were to move FJ back and put Dempsey ahead of him to cut inside--which Dempsey has said is his favorite position...

Greg Seltzer said...

Johnson at LB and Deuce cutting inside from LW is asking for trouble defensively at a World Cup. Same goes for DMB at the back and Johnson cutting inside from left wing - which he will.

We can't think, oh hey this worked during qualifying so that's the ticket. Bringing a qualifying level to World Cup means three and out. We must find a way to improve on the qualifying recipe.

AWF08 said...

...sorry, Greg. I know that chaps your hide--but, I just agree to disagree with you about Beasley, FJ and the left back situation.

AWF08 said...

And, it's not that I don't see your point. I do, and don't disagree with it, necessarily. I just think that Beasley has played better than you think he has and certainly better than anyone else who has played there. But, that's just opinion--not disagreement with your overall point that we need an actual left back to step up and make the position his.

Greg Seltzer said...

Nah, my hide is unchapped. But I will remind you that the last time we went with your left-side arrangement was the 3-1 loss to Costa Rica.

Now imagine it up against a Ghana or France or Colombia.

AWF08 said...

Damn--this ^ is exempting FJ from the equation. Better than the other left backs, except FJ.

AWF08 said...

...yeah. We could go round and round about it and not agree. I just think your a little doomsday about this slot. And, you think I'm missing the defensive and tactical exposure. In actuality--we're probably both right and wrong.
And, Dik is high...

UnitedDemon said...

I don't think you can make huge assumptions about anyone based on the Costa Rica game. We rode a 12 game win streak, came into a country in which we've never won, against a side which had been frothing at the mouth to avenge a slight which didn't exist, knowing first place was on the line. We lost Michael Bradley, we were worried about Jozy, Jones and Cameron didn't work. Yes we conceded, and yes, someone jumped over Beasley. Nobody played well except Donovan. It was a cleansing loss which reminded us we will not win every game, nor should we peak too soon.

Beasley has been a better left back than Castillo, but if Lichaj actually got a callup and cemented his hold on that spot, I wouldn't mind debating who the better backup would be. Beasley exists in that spot because we lack someone of Lichaj's caliber to challenge it.

I agree with AWF08, people aren't giving Beasley much credit for what he's done on the field. Maybe a few more friendlies against top opposition will change people's minds, because apparently CONCACAF doesn't count.

Jacob Klinger said...

Even in his good games, Beasley has had some genuinely frightening moments. I think he's a player that makes the trip, but if the team goes to Brazil with Beasley penciled in as the No. 1 LB, that team will likely be leaving Brazil very quickly.

Beasley's one of my all-time favorite US players and he's put in some good shifts lately, but that doesn't mean he's an international caliber left back.

John said...

Lichaj has gotten too much hoopla for my taste. He's proven that he is a championship player not a BPL player, but if he keeps playing like he is right now he'll probably get a callup in November.

Greg Seltzer said...

Aston Villa fans would likely argue with you, some quite vehemently. As for what he's proved, Lichaj has played seven C'ship games and 32 EPL games. And his first 32 EPL games were better than most.

dikranovich said...

with respect to everyones opinion, the facts are that Fabian Johnson has been the top left back for the US national team. DMB has been a breathe of fresh air as well.

but it has to be that the younger Johnson is playing at an even higher level than DMB.

Fabian Johnson had a bad game down in Honduras, which I fortunately missed because I was in Jhole, and he was already injured this last game, but other than that, he has been standout, be it at left back, or right.

what the heck gives here?????

clearly this Fabian Johnson could develop into something special at left back. he has a combination of speed and power, and it is just to much to pass up. he will get forward from the left back spot and help the offense as well.

here is the bonus, there is a reasonable chance that he could be paired next to fellow german American jabrooks. that makes for a built in chemistry.

Mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony M said...

"You Dick Van Dyke the entire living room".

Wow. That's going to be my favorite thing I'll read all day...

On, and Yedlin.

Mark said...

You invite these types of responses posting something like that. Lichaj and Spector? Both of whom have been more than out of the picture lately. Then putting Castillo in there and saying he is of better quality than Beasley, when Beasley has been selected over Castillo in the most recent matches? If Lichaj were really as good as you’re saying, he’d be in the EPL right now. Plenty of teams are in need for a solid left back. As it was, his Villa teams got shelled last year. You post things and I don’t know what you expect, not everyone is going to agree. You’re not going to make everyone see the light, but you get bent out of shape when people don’t see it your way. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, you included, but don’t get so upset and defensive when people disagree with you, though some of them don't have to be so belligerent (myself included in the past, I apologize) You run a great blog and offer a lot of valuable insight and I think everyone appreciates that, especially on the transfer front, but we don’t have to always agree and that’s ok.

Mark said...

sorry for the double post*

jon said...

Mark, what a weird comment. 99% of the time there is only one person that gets on Greg's nerves to the level that we can see it in his responses. And it's not because Greg is irrationally getting defensive or bent out of shape. Case in point, the rest of the exchanges (even those disagreeing with Greg) have all been civil.

dikranovich said...

tony m, sometimes im afraid if I don't dick van dyke the room, then greg is going to try and goldfinger the room, and unless your name is pussy galore, or maybe odd job, then you are F'ed.

werds haroa said...

Come on if you know the game and you have watched any of us playing recently, you know DMB can't play a world cup quality LB. Any time a ball is crossed in against CONCACAF minnows I close my eyes and hope DMB's guy misses the header he is about to win. He just doesn't have the positional instincts. I love how he has played hard for us for years but that is what it is.

Also, let us not forget Klinsi has shown a penchant for wrong footed fullbacks. For a while now. I personally think that Fabian is our best lb option. He may be one of our better left wing/midfield options (I mean... I am still taking Landon there over him if we are going to play Clint/Jozy/Landon and a right wing).

But if you go with the assumption that Fabian is your left wing... I can't really argue with these rankings (maybe Ream works his way instead of Castillo who I also think is a disaster?) Then again that's all why I think it has to be Fabian.

Cam said...

is there any chance of ream playing left back? he is left footed right?

mark said...

This LB situation scares me. Baez is good cover for now but cannot be a starter come WC. Castillo just has not shown well. I was on the side of having Fabian there but clearly he has shown to be better and more comfortable up the field. I really would like to stay with a lefty but who? Lichaj deserves a shot and on the left (I wouldn't be opposed to playing him on the right either) is the need.

Greg I don't think your crazy. There's a problem and know that we qualified I rather sort it out now then find out in Brazil.

Zach said...

Personally disagree. If we're going to play someone out of position at left back, it might as well be someone who has actually played (and done well) in that spot w/ Nats. A-la Beasley and Fab.

Yedlin at LB might be interesting, but if take any excuse to see him on the field. Haven't seen Klute but hear good things, and he is an actual LB

Greg Seltzer said...

@ Mark:

Between you, me and the world, I honestly could not care less if someone disagrees with me. The problem I have is when someone repeatedly dominates discussions with things like assumption-as- fact that never dies off, insults, droning on about off-topic things (or posts from years ago) and the occasional racially-tinged comment. It bothers the readers, so it bother me. Plus, I am extremely direct when I talk, so I guess it's often misunderstood for high-beam hostility or whatever.

And of course, sometimes a person says things so supernaturally outlandish, I cannot help myself but to wisecrack.


As for Spector and Lichaj, let's remember a couple things.

1 - This is not a prediction for who will go by Klinsi's selection or even who I think should go next summer. It's a "right now" depth chart of my own preferences.

2 - As I have said many times, current form is far from everything. Many other factors come into play, such as positional needs, how the pieces fit together as a group, experience, class and especially performance ceiling against top level opponents. I just went through this all when nearly everyone and his mother were insisting not so long ago that Landon Donovan had to earn his way back, and maybe he just wasn't good enough anymore to make the team, etc etc. All of which was complete nonsense, as proven by now. But these people were only focused on current form, current form, what has he done for us lately?

I said it over and over at the time, that form is temporary while class and experience are permanent. And LD proved me right. Form is not nearly everything.

And DaMarcus Beasley is not a World Cup left back. Nor is Johnson. They are both nightmares at the back post. If Costa Rica or Jamaica picks this flaw once, how many times do you think World Cup teams will? Hell, in some CONCACAF games, DMB and FabJo barely had any defending to do and still made mistakes. Was DMB a pleasant surprise relative to the fact that he is not a left back? Sure. Was he aces? No, sir.

That's my opinion, nothing more.

heythisisrobbie said...

We don't have a World Cup quality left back. That is why there is an argument in the first place.

At least DMB brings some World Cup qualities to the table. The same can't be said of Lichaj.

John said...

Fabian Johnson is a World Cup quality LB. He's the best LB we have had in a very long time.

Greg Seltzer said...

"We don't have a World Cup quality left back. That is why there is an argument in the first place.

At least DMB brings some World Cup qualities to the table.

The same can't be said of Lichaj."


1 - And we will never have one if we only keep playing wingers there.

2 - Yeah... as a winger.

3 - How do you know?



"Fabian Johnson is a World Cup quality LB. He's the best LB we have had in a very long time."


I do not agree with the first sentence. The second is arguably true, but how high is that bar when we almost never bother to play actual left backs.

And by the way, no matter how much all of us have razzed Bornstein, he played two solid World Cup games in 2010.

The worst game we had at that tourney? Winger at left back.

werds haroa said...

Definitely a fair point about Johnny B... but if I offered you the opportunity to take 2010 Johnny B at left back right now, I'm pretty sure you'd pass.


I think part of the question for Fabian is whether he is young enough that he is still developing into a LB. A lot of that depends on where he is playing for his club team. Obviously not an issue for DMB.

The mootness (sorry this is the interweb, I should say "muteness") of this point is growing with the amount of time we talk about it. Klinsi has shown no inclination to take a look at Lichaj but has been willing to try literally anything else. Has to give us a sense of how highly he rates Eric.

I guess it is always possible that he caves to the generally public opinion that this is a huge blind spot.

jaredlaunius said...

Certainly it was two years ago, but I don't want to let anyone forget that Lichaj acquitted himself damn well on the left in Gold Cup 2011. It seemed, at the time at least, that Bradley was getting ready to give him the reigns, then Klinsmann had other plans, Lichaj lost his spot at Villa, yadda yadda. Anyway, I'd love to see him get a run out in November. The game is going to be in Scotland, right? Easy trip for him. Give him a shot.

I'm with you on Beasley, Greg. He's been terrorized on a few occasions (anyone remember AT Jamaica?) by CONCACAF wingers. I'd never doubt his effort, but he's not a left back.

John said...

jaredlaunius: Which AT Jamaica game? The one from a few months ago or the one from last year?

Greg Seltzer said...

Bease didn't play left back in the game last year, so I'll assume he meant a different opponent.

WonderKin said...

Lichaj should be given a shot at right back. At this point I think Dolo making the trip is a long shot, though it would be great. For him to return to form after this many injuries, and such a long lay off of consistent quality playing time at his age is a low percentage wage.

If DMB is not a World Cup left back then we don't have one, unless some young MLSer seriously steps up... Probably not going to happen or be given a chance to happen. Fabian, eh maybe, but he is no better than DMB and DMB is actually playing left back now for his club.

I have to believe you put Spector on here to be provocative and generate traffic. I can't honestly believe that is a serious pick. DMB has world class credentials, check the resume, and he is back on as good form as ever in his career.

Greg Seltzer said...

If you think I say anything just for hits or to generate controversy, you don't know my work very well. :)

I'm not even remotely sure why anyone would be shocked at his inclusion. The only reason he hasn't been around over the last months is injuries.

WonderKin said...

Spector has that utility man qualities that JK loves, but he is too much of a tweener for me. Slightly slight in build for center back, a little slow for a fullback, not quite technical enough for midfield, apparently not a forward though I've never seen him play the position, but I trust sir Alex. Every team he actually saw serious playing time for in the premiership has been relegated.

I just don't see anything special and I think being signed by Man U at the age of 17 has really made his career beyond his actual talent level. I see many current, even average MLSers as ahead of him. I say take a chance on a younger guy that is a real athlete.

Klute and Yedlin really should be considered in the coming months.

John said...

@WonderKin Fabian is a quality player and he's better than Beasley at LB or LM. I respect what Beasley has done at LB this year but he scares me sometimes especially against better opponents, the same goes with Evans at RB.

WonderKin said...

What scares you? Can you support that feeling, or is it purely emotion?

He is very good on the ball, very few arrant passes. I would argue that he is both faster and quicker than Fabian. He is very aggressive and occasionally gets beat initially in 1v1 situations, but he is so fast and tenacious that he recovers and gets a second chance. His work rate is insane for a guy his age. There is a reason people stopped trying to attack down his side, and it's because his side of the defense is stronger. The only knocks on Beasely is his "lack of experience" which is no longer very valid, and he is just a small guy and every once in a while he gets thrown, but he also draws a crap load of fouls.

Fabian looked terrible at RB vs. mexico, "but he is a left side player!". Being a left sided player should only matter in possession of the ball when having a better foot comes into play. 1v1 is 1v1 no matter which side you are on. I don't hear any corner backs in the NFL complaining about only being able to defend on the left. The longer Fabian goes as a out and out winger in the Bundesliga the worse he looks on defense. I think his substitution vs. mexico may be a sign of things to come. Fabian is a better winger in the current tactics because he distribute a little better than DMB and because he is comfortable tucking in and playing central when DMB overlaps, but DMB is better going directly at goal. They have nice chemistry together with DMB at LB and with Fabian on the wing.

Greg Seltzer said...

Beasley's lack of left back experience remains overtly valid. People need to stop confusing CONCACAF with World Cup. It's not the same animal. At all. In quality, in style.

Besides, if anyone thinks teams intentionally avoid attacking DMB's side out of frustration or fear, they have funny ideas. His defense is not even close to "very strong" - sorry, but he's been culpable several times on goals and been bailed out another lump of times. And that was against teams like Jamaica, Costa Rica and Panama.

Has he done an admirable job filling in there? Definitely.

Has he improved defensively and surpassed expectations at that position? No doubt.

Is he the guy you want staring down Luis Suarez or Eden Hazard or Hulk or C-Ron for 90 minutes? Well, you'd better re-think looooong and hard about that one.

WonderKin said...

How many other players on the roster have only played CONCACAF other than friendlies? Like half? So I reject that argument unless you would only like to field players playing in Europe across the board. Fabian has looked even worse against... CONCACAF opponents. I'm not sure that helps your argument and it doesn't even sound good. Until they actually play against "real competition" it's all speculation anyways. What we actually know is what we have actually seen, and that is that so far he is the best option. Whether he is good enough I don't know, but he is doing better than anybody else that has played that position that can actually help us right now.

He has arguably been man of the match several times. He is not making very many mistakes, and any time he does he is so fast that he ends up making up for it.

Greg Seltzer said...

#1 - I'm not sure how anyone can imagine that the difference between CONCACAF and higher quality competitions of all kinds is avoidable. It's pretty noticeable.

#2 - I suspect you are seeing what you want to see if you feel he hasn't made many mistakes and rate him as earning MOTM several times. I'd be interested in hearing of all these occasions.

Greg Seltzer said...

And actually, there is another monstrous factor that so many seem to flat overlook. We are not talking about planning for a season or even for qualifying, when you can call as many different players as necessary throughout.

We are talking about planning for a short tournament with an ironclad roster limit. One cannot simply look at the hex and go, oh okay, now we know what's best for World Cup.

WonderKin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WonderKin said...

He was the MOTM vs. Costa Rica. Yeah, yeah snow game. There were ten other US players in that game. He was discussed as a possible MOTM by many pundits vs. Germany.

He played great the entire gold cup.

Most notable game though was vs. Mexico watching Fabian struggle so much that he had to be subbed out while Beasely had a quite, but defensively sound night on the left.

Now you can say he's not good enough blah, blah, blah. And you might be right, but chances are he is going to be the starting leftback in Brazil. And it's his position by default until someone steps up and plays better. Certainly not Spector.

We can't ever say we know. We will know when it's tested at the world cup, and then it will be over. Jurgen will do what he does and pressure everyone to hold on to there spot by constantly giving different people their chances up until the day the final roster is posted

Greg Seltzer said...

"He was the MOTM vs. Costa Rica. Yeah, yeah snow game."


Precisely! Talk about an outlier...



"He was discussed as a possible MOTM by many pundits vs. Germany."


(milk comes flying out my nose)

Wow. I would loooove to hear this explanation from one of these people who discussed that. Not only did he err on two of Germany's goals, but there was a monster outing from Jones and stellar ones from Bradley, Altidore and Evans.



"He played great the entire gold cup."


Setting aside this clear goalpost move, I will take these game by game...

Belize: Irrelevant when discussing WC worthiness.... I mean, seriously

Cuba: DNP

Costa Rica: Decent outing, but A) this was not a good performance by the team & B) Donovan, Johnson or even one of the subs probably had everyone's MOTM votes.

El Salavador: Erm, he gave up the PK for their only goal and was nowhere near the performances of Donovan and Johnson.

Honduras: Again decent, but also arguably the least impressive showing on the team that night.

Panama: Again decent, no more.

And now, we again ask how many of these teams are close to WC-caliber.

As for Mexico, he nearly put one in his own net for a sure-to-have-gone-viral own goal. And there were several other players who had fantastic night, o he was no MOTM candidate.



"Now you can say he's not good enough blah, blah, blah. And you might be right, but chances are he is going to be the starting leftback in Brazil. And it's his position by default until someone steps up and plays better. Certainly not Spector."


Chances are what? I find your default reading to be quite presumptive. While Bease has impressed for a newbie at the position, it's a big stretch to rate him as being so good in all these games that he owns the spot to that extent.

And as I've said many times, this exercise I'm doing is NOT a prediction for the Brazil roster or a guesstimate of what Klinsi has on his depth chart. It's *my* preference in the present and nothing more.

WonderKin said...

Who has played better? Spector? Johnson? Eric Lichaj on the left? Lichaj should be given a shot on our huge glaring weakness... right back. Which he actually plays.

Greg Seltzer said...

Better with what parameters?

Lichaj plays both sides, and at a similar level.

WonderKin said...

So put him on the right. No argument from me there. At least give the guy a chance.

John said...

@WonderKin: Ummm no. F. Johnson is faster than Beasley, he might of been a decade ago but not now in his 30s. Fabian was one of the fastest players in the Bundesliga 2 seasons ago, and I'm pretty sure he still is. Fabian was not terrible against Mexico. For someone who has only played in that position (RB) once before he did well, and you also have to consider that he suffered a knock. Beasley has been good but you seriously need to take the Beasley homer glasses off, his awkwardness trying to defend makes me nervous. Even Jason Davis said that he would easily rather have F. Johnson over Beasley at LB.