A year ago, many fans of D.C. United had already come to terms with the idea that Andy Najar might be moving onto Europe sooner than later. Back then, though, who would have thought that the Honduran's departure would potentially expose the roster at the fullback position? That's just what happened when he was sold to Anderlecht last month after manning the right fullback spot for the last stretch of the 2012 season. Today's countdown post focuses on the man who will probably be stepping into the roster spot vacated by our departed Honduran: Chris Korb.
Drafted in the second round of the 2011 SuperDraft, Korb has steadily seen his minutes rise over his two seasons in MLS. A natural right back, the perpetually low-socked defender has spent most of his time deputizing on the left side for Daniel Woolard, who missed most of the second half of last season battling post-concussion symptoms. Korb performed admirably, adding width with his overlapping of Chris Pontius while also handling his defensive duties and helping to secure the back line.
With Woolard back and fully healthy this year, Korb is my pick to start the season on the right side of the defense, starting over veteran Robbie Russell. Korb is probably the fastest guy on the team, and his crossing - which was generally adequate if not spectacular on his weaker side - should improve on the right side. Nick DeLeon, probable starter at right midfield, is a lot of things, but a burner isn't one of them; Korb's speed and work rate will help keep opposing left midfielders honest in a way that's similar (if not an exact match) to what Najar brought to the position.
Of course, the Akron product's game isn't nearly identical to Najar's. But, as Ben Olsen pointed out at the recent season ticket holder Q&A, when you lose a unique asset like Andy Najar, you don't necessarily look to replace him exactly. You become a new team. Korb has the pace that Najar used, but not the dribbling ability. While accomplished going forward, Korb is no Andy. He is, though, better positionally than Najar due to his greater time at the position.
Russell is another good possibility at right fullback, bringing his veteran savvy - like the pass that sprung Nick DeLeon to score the winner in our series against the Red Bulls last fall - into the mix. My biggest concern is the speed factor: With more athleticism and speed in MLS attacks, I worry that Russell will be isolated on the outside. And so I prefer Korb.
How about you? Between Korb and Russell, who do you see claiming the position for First Kick in 22 days?