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Friday, March 18, 2011
Depth chart analysis: defenders

By Buzz Carrick

Relative to the goalkeepers, the defenders depth chart is very complicated.

Right back, after the trade of Heath Pearce, belongs to Jackson. The tall, lanky, and fleet footed outside back is both a capable defender and a good attacker. His versatility means that in injury situations he has been called on to play other positions. If he does need to move, Zach Loyd is at this point the 2nd choice out wide.

FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman, however, believes Loyd is better in the middle and has looked for another outside back. FCD Home grown player Moises Hernandez saw a lot of time in preseason at both outside spots and Andrew Wiedeman has also seen time here. Neither is ready for an extended prime time run but could fill in in an emergency.

Left back is also ingrained with Jair Benitez locked into the spot. Like at right back, Zach Loyd is again the first option if something happens to Benitez. Loyd should get the nod on opening day with Benitez suspended for example. Again Hernandez could feature in am emergency as could Brek Shea if necessary.

Center back is where things get really interesting. On the surface Ugo Ihemlu and George John are the returning starting pair. Zach Loyd, in the coach's preferred role for him, is one backup with an eventually healthy Kyle Davies as the other. Depending on various factors like other injuries and availability, Jackson is a top choice to play in the middle, possibly even over Loyd or Davies.

The x-factor here is Brek Shea. Coach Hyndman has felt for a couple of years that Brek Shea was a world class center back in the making. The injuries this spring have given Hyndman a chance to play Shea at center back and the 6'3" Texas has done well there. He played so well that Hyndman will start Shea at center back this weekend against Chicago for the injured Ugo Ihemelu.

The thing is Hyndman would love to keep Shea at center back even when everyone is healthy, Shea being his secret first choice. If someone else can emerge at left midfield, then Hyndman can make his dream move and leave Shea at center back all season. The question then becomes who would sit or move. Ihemelu can play wide in the back and John can play some defensive midfield. If I had to guess, I might think John would sit as Hyndman loves athleticism and Ugo has it by the bag full, not to mention a lot more experience.

After those five names at center back you have last year's pick Edson Edward who unfortunately has a serious injury and is on injured reserve, likely for the season. Then comes first round pick Bobby Warshaw, who is really a midfielder but did play two seasons of center back in college, Andrew Jacobson, and Daniel Hernandez who can all play this spot in an emergency. FCD home grown midfielder Victor Ulloa could also play in this spot and might in various reserves game.

FCD also had a mystery trialist in camp this week and looked at sevearl other center backs during the spring. So they may be looking for another body to fill out the roster.

Defensive Depth Chart

Right Back
1. Jackson
2. Zach Loyd
3. Moises Hernandez
4. Andrew Wiedeman

Left Back
1. Jair Benitez
2. Zach Loyd
3. Moises Hernandez
4. Brek Shea

Center Back
1. (X-Factor) Brek Shea
2A. Ugo Ihemelu
2B. George John
4. Jackson
5. Zach Loyd
6. Kyle Davies
7. Edson Edward (IR)
8. Daniel Hernandez / Andrew Jackbson / Bobby Warshaw
9. Victor Ulloa