USMNT: Top 3 left-backs for 2022 World Cup qualifying

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CHESTER, PA – MAY 28: Antonee Robinson #17 of the United States controls the ball during the friendly soccer match against Bolivia at Talen Energy Stadium on May 28, 2018 in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Gregg Berhalter is building a new era of the USMNT. But who are his best options at left-back ahead of the looming 2022 World Cup qualifiers? Here are the top three candidates at the position at present.

The qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup loom, somewhere in the distance. Quite when and where they will happen remains to be seen. The world is dealing with COVID-19. CONCACAF qualifiers, funnily enough, are not at the top of the agenda. But for Gregg Berhalter, plans will be still be put in place for the future of his U.S. Men’s National Team. But who are his best options at each position?

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Here, we count down the top three left-back candidates.

CARSON, CA – FEBRUARY 1: Sam Vines #13 of the United States of the United States passes off a ball during a game between Costa Rica and USMNT at Dignity Health Sports Park on February 1, 2020 in Carson, California. (Photo by Michael Janosz/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

3. Sam Vines

Likely because he has a normal name and plays in Colorado, but Sam Vines is very quietly establishing himself as one of the best full-backs in Major League Soccer, irrespective of age or nationality. In 2018, he played 29 games in the USL, recording four assists. He was then promoted to the Rapids MLS squad and immediately established as the starting left-back.

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In 2019, Vines made 26 appearances in MLS, totalling more than 2,000 minutes. He then played all 180 minutes of the 2020 season before the postponement ended play. He will turn 21 at the end of May and is beginning to reach an age when most young prospects would be hoping to break into the starting XI. This will be Vines’ third successive season with regular starts.

He has only played once for the USMNT, that being the January camp friendly against Costa Rica in which Berhalter named a team geared towards the Olympics — Vines would have played a key role in the under-23 team. That shows Berhalter’s belief in his talent and hope for his future. With more consistent starts under his belt, Vines will be pushing hard for more international opportunities.

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