MLS Preview: Fullbacks to Watch

Steve Cherundolo and Carlos Bocanegra remain Bob Bradley’s first-choice fullbacks, with Eric Lichaj and Jonathan Bornstein their respective understudies. Depth, though, is always a concern. To that end, Bradley will likely keep tabs on a number of MLS fullbacks throughout 2011. Here are a few we think he’ll observe.

Heath Pearce – Stuck at right back last season for MLS Cup runners-up FC Dallas, Pearce, recently traded to Chivas USA, will return to his natural position this campaign. The left back, in a move with more than a hit of irony, will be replacing Bornstein – the man who beat him out for a 2010 World Cup roster spot.

Zach Loyd – In 2010, Zach Loyd was a better-than-serviceable utility man for FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman. Injuries along the back line led to Loyd receiving extended time at both center back and fullback. His outstanding play was rewarded with his first cap for the USA (in a January friendly), and if he can beat out Hyndman-favorite Jackson, Loyd should reap the dividends of Pearce’s absence.

Anthony Wallace – Wallace, like Loyd, received his USMNT debut in January. But Wallace has a better chance of making the full team before Loyd. As a lefty, the Colorado Rapids defender naturally commands greater attention. And neither Bornstein nor Pearce has locked up a backup role, a situation Wallace might be able to exploit.

Kevin Alston – After a promising rookie season in 2009, Alston, hampered by injuries, took a step back in 2010. He’ll need to be in top form to leapfrog Loyd and Lichaj in the race to succeed Cherundolo, but the New England right back possesses the tools to be a quality international fullback.

Kofi Sarkodie – The former US U-17 member and Akron University standout could be this year’s breakout right back. Named the 2010 Soccer America college player of the year, Sarkodie will have some work to do to step into Houston’s starting lineup, but if he does, he might end up on the Gold Cup radar.

Gringos, know of any other MLS fullbacks Bob might be interested in?

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