The right back position is widely regarded as the largest area of concern on the U.S. national team heading toward the World Cup, but this weekend’s events in Europe helped provide some evidence that maybe, just maybe, the position could wind up being a strength.
Geoff Cameron continued his stellar play at right back for Stoke City, delivering the game-winning assist in Stoke’s 2-1 win against Aston Villa on Saturday. On the same day, Steve Cherundolo made his first club start in seven months, playing 81 minutes in Hannover 96’s 2-1 loss to Freiburg. The Hannover captain is still considered an option for Jurgen Klinsmann, but becoming a regular starter again in the Bundesliga will be key to Cherundolo being a part of his fourth World Cup team.
Another right back option who impressed on Saturday was Timmy Chandler, who started and played 90 minutes to help Nuremberg post a 0-0 tie against Schalke 04. Jermaine Jones also played in the match, starting and going 90 minutes for Schalke. The point doesn’t take Nuremberg out of the Bundesliga relegation zone, but with three draws in a row, Nuremberg looks to be heading in the right direction.
American full backs were busy this weekend, with Fabian Johnson returning to the starting lineup for Hoffenheim, going 90 minutes in his team’s 1-0 loss to Eintracht Braunschweig on Saturday. Johnson had been reduced to substitute’s appearances since October due to injury, but he appears to be fully recovered.
Even League Championship full back Eric Lichaj got back in on the action, playing 45 minutes off the bench in Nottingham Forest’s 0-0 tie against Birmingham City on Saturday.
It was a good weekend for the U.S. national team’s top players, with Tim Howard continuing his dream season at Everton, registering three saves in the Toffees’ 2-1 victory against Swansea City. Howard made some important late saves to preserve the win, which pushed Everton’s unbeaten streak to 10 matches and helped the Toffees take hold of fourth place in the English Premier League.
Staying in England, Jozy Altidore retained his starting spot for Sunderland, but the Black Cats had to settle for a 0-0 tie against Norwich City on Saturday. The draw actually helped Sunderland gain some ground on the three teams ahead of it in the relegation zone.
In Italy, Michael Bradley stayed in the starting lineup for AS Roma and responded with a strong 90-minute effort in a 4-0 win against Catania on Sunday. The win helped keep Roma five points behind Juventus for first place in Serie A.
Aron Johannsson scored his his 11th league goal of the season, but it was small consolation in AZ Alkmaar’s 5-1 loss to Heerenveen on Saturday. The Cheese Farmers are sliding down the Eredivisie standings, but Johannsson is continuing to find the net despite his team’s struggles.
In France, Alejandro Bedoya continued to start for Nantes, but his 90-minute effort couldn’t help his team avoid a 2-0 loss to St. Etienne on Saturday.
Two players who didn’t see the field failed to do so for different reasons. John Brooks appears to be in the doghouse at Hertha Berlin, failing to make the substitute’s bench after being pulled from last week’s match for Hertha Berlin early. Sacha Kljestan missed Anderlecht’s first-place showdown against Standard Liege with a calf injury. Anderlecht settled for a 1-1 draw on Sunday.
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- Steve Cherundolo