Vukovic Spurs More Questions at Left Back

Shaun Francis will have to hold off a couple challengers to hold on to his job.

Now that Nemanja Vukovic is officially signed, the team now has two true left backs on the roster and there is real competition for the starting spot. Shaun Francis started in the opener and struggled like the rest of the squad. Carlos Mendes was scheduled to start in his place, but a balky hamstring kept him on the sideline. With Vukovic traveling to Columbus this week, Mendes getting healthy, and Shaun Francis struggling, Warzycha now has a decision on who the best option at left back is for Saturday and beyond.

It's unlikely that Vukovic will play as he is flying in to Columbus from Montenegro after being away from the team for a couple of weeks. There is precedent that he sees the field as Dejan Rusmir started, to disastrous result, mere days after he signed with the team last year. He does appear to have the tools to unseat Francis as the starting left back. He can attack from the fullback spot, which the coaching staff values.

Warzycha does have more options at their disposal now that Mendes is healthy again to go full speed in training. The former New York Red Bull was brought in to provide depth along the back line and Warzycha likes his veteran presence. Long term he's most likely the backup at all three. Adam Jardy reported that backup Josh Williams saw time at left back at practice today, but is a long shot to start.

Francis, the current starter, may have run out of chances. His play against MLS competition in Colorado was subpar. He did have a better weekend against Michigan State, that was against college competition, battles that he should be winning. He struggled during preseason and still looks raw, even now as a 3rd year player.

Francis may get another week at left back, the game in Toronto will be the big test. Vukovic will have had a full week of practice. Mendes will be fully recovered and fit. There will be plenty of options for improving the left back position.

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