Is USMNT star Chris Richards no longer a defender? Man of the Match performance put in for Crystal Palace when filling unexpected role

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United States international Chris Richards may be about to change position for club and country, with the natural defender being moved up the field.

The 23-year-old has forged his reputation as a centre-half, allowing him to spend time with FC Dallas, Bayern Munich and Crystal Palace. He has earned 14 caps for the USMNT in a defensive berth, but is being nudged into midfield by Eagles boss Roy Hodgson and put in a Man of the Match performance during a 1-1 Premier League draw with West Ham.

Richards has told Palace’s official website of filling an expected role – in what was just his sixth start in the English top-flight: “I wasn’t expecting it, but I just want to be on the pitch – so whatever it takes! It was something! It was a bit more defensive than anything, so I enjoyed that aspect, but I just liked being on the pitch and getting a point. There’s a bit of similarity [to centre-back]. I’m just not used to the ball going over my head like that, so that was something that took a bit of getting used to, but I enjoyed it. I was kind of surprised to play it, but I feel like I did pretty well.”

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Richards was deployed in midfield after seeing Jeffrey Schlupp withdrawn from the Palace squad due to personal reasons. He completed the second-most tackles (five), interceptions (two) and clearances (four) of any player on the pitch and said on social media of being recognised as the Eagles’ star performer: “Proud to be voted yalls man of the match yesterday. Let’s get the 3 points on Wednesday.”

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