For all the advances in player development that’ve come down the American pipe in recent years, fullback remains a blind spot. For reasons that tunnel beyond the scope of this piece, MLS is still plagued by a general lack of fullback depth, and especially on the left flank. DaMarcus Beasley gradually became one of the best left backs in USMNT history over the past few years, and he was a converted midfielder who came of age abroad.
What follows is a look at some of the best fullbacks in college soccer - many of whom are tethered to MLS clubs - who could well break through at the next level. Five of them are left backs.
LB Andy Thoma, Washington: Washington plays with three at the back, and Thoma found a home as a wide left wingback in Jamie Clark’s system. Thoma is prototypical left back, with instincts, speed and touch off the flank. In the Huskies’ setup, Thoma is given license to live in the opponent’s third with assignment to track back to find possession. He’s a sturdy defender, but his real gift lies in his ability to get forward. Players this comfortable on the left don’t come around often.