When is a win-win situation not really a win-win situation? When it is a Nguyen-Wynne situation, which is exactly what happened last Saturday when New England Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen tangled with San Jose Earthquakes defender Marvell Wynne going after a loose ball, resulting in a hamstring strain for the latter.
The injury forced head coach Dominic Kinnear to bring in midfielder Cordell Cato to play at right back, a move that worked out for the remainder of the game against the Revs and perhaps serves as a preview of who will replace Wynne in the Earthquakes starting line-up against Real Salt Lake on Sunday if he is deemed unavailable for the nationally televised match (ESPN2, kick-off at 2:00 p.m. Pacific time).
"I still see Cordell as a player that plays outside right midfield for us," said Kinnear, "but knowing that he can play right back as cover is good. When he went back there (against the Revs), you saw that he could handle the situation well. He also played there a couple times last year, and I saw those games, so I know is he capable of doing that."
Cato has not figured in the Earthquakes starting lineup plans prior to this point in the season, but he did make a substitution appearance against the Chicago Fire a few weeks ago, in addition to his inclusion for Wynne against the Revolution. The 22-year-old Trinidad and Tobago native has made a total of 49 appearances for San Jose since joining the club in 2013, including 26 starts. That he might get the call at right back on Sunday is a welcome one for Cato, he realized that it was important to get some emergency minutes at that position in last weekend's game.
"Definitely," said Cato. "Getting in there and getting a feel for the game was good."
Wynne took control of the right back position in the preseason, but the Earthquakes two back-ups to Wynne are no longer with the team -- Pablo Pintos was cut in February and Brandon Barklage left the club my mutual agreement in March -- necessitating the move to include Cato as an defensive option.
"The defensive responsibilities will be a little more critical," said Kinnear. "He's handled it pretty well. If you were to go from any position to a new one, you are going to learn along the way. But if your attitude is correct, which his is, it makes it easier."
Cato will certainly be tested by the free-flowing attacking Real Salt Lake midfield, but he is looking forward to the challenge. With his playing time as a midfielder greatly reduced with such players as Sanna Nyassi and Matias Perez Garcia on the squad, Cato is ready to take on any task -- with the exception of stepping in as goalkeeper -- that Kinnear throws his way.