In honor of the latest installment of MLSsoccer.com’s series “The Word” on Philadelphia Union center back Amobi Okugo, senior writer Jeff Bradley takes a look at five players who made a position change at some point in their career, and thrived after the switch.
A big, tall, strong striker at the University of Virginia, Albright began his career at D.C. United and was envisioned as a faster version of Brian McBride. Early problems putting away chances led to a switch to right midfield and then, ultimately, right back, where he carved out a long and fruitful career, including 22 caps and a call-up to the 2006 World Cup with the US national team in place on an injured Frankie Hejduk.
One of the early, creative acquisitions by D.C. United in the inaugural season, Sanneh was a striker at the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin and with the Milwaukee Rampage and Minnesota Thunder. He began his time with United as a defensive midfielder, but ultimately became a right back for the US national team, Hertha Berlin and Nurenberg.
A classic late-bloomer, Cameron was a midfielder with a flair for the attack in college and in his early days as a pro before head coach Dominic Kinnear put his passing skills to use on the Houston Dynamo backline. An MLS First XI center back, Cameron has shown even more versatility since moving to England, where he now plays right back for Stoke City (above).
The Sporting KC head coach was transformed from a striker to a defensive midfielder to a center back, all during his first season with the MetroStars. A striker on the US national team at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, Vermes had never played in the back before Metro coach Carlos Queiroz paired him with veteran Nicola Caricola in the middle of the inaugural campaign. Vermes went on to win the MLS Defender of the Year award with Kansas City's 2000 MLS Cup winning squad.
A speedy left-footed forward for UCLA, Bornstein was drafted as "a player" by then-Chivas USA coach Bob Bradley, who saw similarities between Bornstein and another slender left-footer, DaMarcus Beasley. Bornstein was utilized in multiple roles at Chivas USA, sometimes beginning games in the back and finishing up top, and was in the rotation of left backs for the US national team during Bradley's five years in charge.