Anton Tinnerholm arguably was the best outside back in MLS in 2020. (Photo courtesy of MLS)

The most underrated position in soccer?

Outside back.

They don’t get as many scoring opportunities as a forward or midfielders.

They don’t get the credit of spearheading a defense as a center back.

And they certainly don’t get the glory of a clean sheet by a goalkeeper.

They do, however, get the blame when they allow their man to score or set up a goal.

Then there’s New York City FC right back Anton Tinnerholm, who had a marvelous season on both sides of the ball for the Major League Soccer team.

Always a dangerous part of the attack, Tinnerholm finished with four goals and four assists from his outside back position, playing in 2,001 minutes over 21 starts and 22 matches.

“He has been really, really good,” NYCFC head coach Ronny Deila said prior to the MLS Cup playoffs. “I can understand that he is among the best defenders in the in the league. “He closed his side down very good was good at speaking to the others around him. What he has given to the team offensively as well it’s been outstanding. He has done it consistently over the whole season. He has had a great season.”

Asked if he remembered a particular game or moment that stood out to him about Tinnerholm, Deila indicated it was about the defender’s consistency.

“There’s been a lot of times in like seven eight to 10,” he said. “One particular [game] I think it’s hard, but he has been very influential in the offensive play and score are important goals. That’s the one thing that stood out to me when I when I see the whole thing.”

Tinnerholm’s all-around performance garnered plenty of attention through the league, but not quite enough to secure MLS honors. He finished fourth in defender of the year voting as Nashville SC’s Walker Zimmerman won the award, receiving 28.37 percent of the votes cast by players, club officials and selected media members.

The 29-year-old defender just missed out on making the MLS Best XI as the No. 4 defender. The team had only three defenders, all of which were center backs.

So, we knew who was the best was outside back in the league, but he didn’t receive his just desserts, although many NYCFC supporters and observers knew better.

Tomorrow: Local story No. 6

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at