clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Countdown to Soccer: 22 Days - Let's talk about the fullback situation at D.C. United

Fullback play is arguably the defining tactical aspect of the current phase of soccer history. So how does DCU stack up at the position heading into 2015?

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Conveniently, just a couple days after he emerged as the most likely contender to succeed Lewis Neal as The Standard, we've reached 22 days, the number of one Mr. Chris Korb in our countdown to the opening of D.C. United's 2015 season. Korb found himself pushed to the bench last year as Sean Franklin earned All-Star honors on the right side and Taylor Kemp emerged as a promising figure on the left. So Korb ended up on the second line of the depth chart at both fullback positions, which is precisely where he is today.

And that brings us to today's question: Are we good with that? If I left the question there, I think the answer would be an easy "yes" - Korb can be a solid starter in this league, and having him as the first backup is a good position to be in. That doesn't seem to be a controversial assessment, as 92% of B&RU readers voted to bring Korb back at the end of last season. So let's expand the inquiry: Are we okay with whatever is behind Korb in the fullback pecking order?

With Ben Olsen & Co. entering no fewer than four competitions this season, there are going to be a lot of minutes to go around, and even work horses like Franklin and Kemp will need to rest during a game from time to time. If we're very lucky, Benny will be able to give Korb spot starts for one or the other as necessary, and we'll never have to worry about anything beyond that. But the odds of being that lucky are roughly nada. At some point this year, United will have to play somebody else at one (or, heaven help us, both) of the fullback spots.

And that's a tougher situation to suss out. In last year's Champions League group stage, we saw the since departed Alex Caskey and Kyle Porter deputize at fullback. Without those players, Ben Olsen is going to have to look elsewhere. That probably goes a long way toward explaining why he's been running trialist Rauwshan McKenzie out at fullback in the team's first couple preseason games, and it also might indicate that homegrown player Jalen Robinson's future really is on the outside and not at centerback, and that his chances of spending time with the first team are higher than we might otherwise think.

After those two (or one, if McKenzie isn't signed), it's a completely open question. Maybe Nick DeLeon can slide back into the defense from right midfield in an emergency? I doubt we'll see Perry Kitchen reprise the role he played as a rookie, "Season Long Crisis Fullback." A new acquisition? Hopefully it never comes to figuring out who our fifth or sixth fullback is, but with as many matches as are on the calendar this year, and with rosters as thin as MLS rosters always are, anything is possible.

This is where we open it up to you. Let us know in the comments how comfortable you are with United's fullback situation, from the starters on down to the deepest of depth players.