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United States Men's National Team: Ranking the Top Five Fullbacks

Right and left backs have become increasingly important to their teams in recent years, and that's no exception for the United States Men's National Team.

Some famous managers in the global game, including Pep Guardiola of Manchester City and Mikel Arteta of Arsenal, prefer their fullbacks to move into midfield. USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter, on the other hand, likes to see his right and left backs overlap down the wings.

That means athleticism, crossing ability, assists, and defensive ability are the most important attributes for a USMNT fullback. We'll be focusing on those numbers and more, and all stats will be broken down by per-90 minute rates unless otherwise noted.

5. DeJuan Jones

Club: New England Revolution (MLS - United States)
Key Stats: 1.75 tackles won, 1.24 interceptions, 1.96 crosses, 5.57 ball recoveries, 61.4 percent long pass accuracy, +1.08 on/off plus/minus

Thanks to his assist numbers, defensive solidity, and impact on his team, New England Revolution left back DeJuan Jones takes the honor of being the fifth-best US-eligible fullback. Sam Vines, DeAndre Yedlin, Reggie Cannon and Bryan Reynolds, all of whom have played in or still play in Europe, are among the players Jones beat out to make the list.

Jones is a perfect example of what happens when a player stays in MLS to hone his skills. Now in his prime, Jones had five assists in each of 2022 and 2023, and he helped lead the Revs win the Supporters' Shield in 2021 with three goals and four assists on the year.

He doesn't have any goal contributions amid New England's so-far dreadful 2024 season, but he has been active on defense and his on/off plus/minus rating of +1.08 shows that the team performs much better when Jones is on the pitch compared to when he does not play.

4. Brooks Lennon

Club: Atlanta United (MLS - United States)
Key Stats: 4 total assists, 16 total crosses into penalty area, 7.81 crosses, 3.56 goal-creating actions, 2.4 key passes, 1.2 tackles, 1.2 interceptions, 4.6 ball recoveries

Brooks Lennon is proving once again that he is the premier attacking right back in MLS. The Atlanta United stalwart has four assists in 16 games this season and he is on track to lead MLS in crosses into the penalty area for the third time in his career.

Lennon leads his team in assists and sits just outside the league's top 10 in the stat. The 26-year-old has played the third-most crosses in the league midway through the 2024 season,

The right back has one cap for the USMNT, from a friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina, and he played for the US youth teams early in his career. His solid technical ability and prolific crossing paired with active defending and the fact he wins over half his tackles would make him a useful player for the USMNT.

3. Joe Scally

Club: Borussia Monchengladbach (Bundesliga - Germany)
Key Stats: 4 total assists, 1.85 crosses, 1.1 tackles won, 0.7 interceptions, 3.7 ball recoveries, 6 total crosses into penalty area

Joe Scally's case is a weird one. He has never produced great stats for his position, but he has worked his way into a starting spot for one of Germany's most storied teams.

His team had a -11.0 xG differential with him on the pitch and a -7 goal differential in the 31 matches - 25 of which were starts - he played. The fact 'Gladbach finished with a -7.8 xG difference for the season indicates Scally was a net negative when playing this season, but he finished joint-second on the team in assists with four.

It's hard to pin the team's shortcomings on Scally since the team finished in the league's bottom half in the last two seasons. Scally is still only 21 years old and is starting in the Bundesliga, so he gets the benefit of the doubt from a USMNT perspective after a solid recent showing in a friendly against Brazil.

2. Sergino Dest

Club: PSV (Eredivisie - Netherlands)
Key Stats: 2 total goals, 6 total assists, 1.4 tackles, 0.5 interceptions, 4.9 ball recoveries, 2.7 successful dribbles, 3.0 touches in attacking penalty area, 4.0 crosses, 3.6 shot-creating actions

Sergino Dest has also had a weird season, but it went much better than Scally's. Dest established himself as the USMNT's best right back with a great campaign on loan to PSV, the team decided not to make his loan permanent, and then he suffered a torn ACL which means he will miss the Copa America.

Dest thrived in PSV's possession-dominant system, which the team relied upon to win the Eredivisie by seven points. He has more talent than any other American right back, but the biggest questions are about his defensive abilities.

The 23-year-old has won over 60 percent of his attempted tackles in his career, but he has done that while playing for clubs that traditionally dominate possession like PSV, AC Milan, FC Barcelona and Ajax. Can he be relied upon to defend star wingers in big games against the world's best teams?

1. Antonee Robinson

Club: Fulham (Premier League - England)
Key Stats: 6 total assists, 1.6 tackles, 2.2 interceptions, 6.6 ball recoveries, 3.6 crosses, 1.3 passes into penalty area, 1.9 shot-creating actions, 9 total crosses into penalty area

Not only is Antonee Robinson the best fullback in the USMNT player pool, but there is also an argument that he's the team's most important player and one of the world's most underrated left backs.

Robinson, nicknamed 'Jedi', covers the entire left flank by himself. He can run all day thanks to supreme athleticism, he's both an active and competent defender, and he gets forward, creates chances, and provides assists.

His presence down the left allows USMNT left winger Christian Pulisic to play a free role and get into areas where he can impact the game. Plus, Pulisic draws defenders away from Robinson which creates crossing opportunities. The two players form a great partnership so it's no surprise they're among the first two names on the team sheet.

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