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Which defender will step up to fill the USMNT void?

Jimmy Conrad (

We are less than a month away from a pair of U.S. men's national team friendlies against fellow World Cup participants Slovakia and Denmark and it is growing increasingly difficult to project just who will be playing in central defense for the United States when those matches take place.

Oguchi Onyewu is out up to six months after surgery to repair a ruptured patellar tendon, while Jay DeMerit is out for at least a month following corneal replacement surgery. Throw in the fact that highly-regarded MLS defender Chad Marshall has now missed six straight matches with a knee injury and you realize just how tough a job Bob Bradley will have finding a centerback partner for Carlos Bocanegra.

The two defenders most likely to be called on are Jimmy Conrad and Clarence Goodson, who each impressed during the summer's Gold Cup (at least before Goodson's shocker vs. Mexico). Conrad has the experience, and is coming off another strong MLS campaign, while Goodson did show some signs of being capable of playing more in the Gold Cup.

Who else is there? Michael Parkhurst is one possibility, but beyond that the pickings are slim as far as defenders with previous national team experience. Geoff Cameron has impressed in central defense for Houston, but he isn't likely to get a call-up before January.

Who would you like to see get the call in central defense against Denmark and Slovakia? Hoping Conrad gets the nod? Think Parkhurst makes sense for at least one of the matches?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. It is all about Omar. He’s a beast, should be considered seriously for WC2010 and can only get better with experience at that level.

    All the knocks against Omar are the same ones Gooch received when he started. Players will rise to their expectations, unless they don’t. Give him a shot. He’s got as much potential as Gooch does, so start ‘im.

    If he’s not on the USMNT radar, then my faith in Bradley’s player development is gone for good.

    Did I mention we should try Omar Gonzales?

  2. What few have mentioned is that Parkhurst’s chances are probably helped by the location of the games. Heck, he played at Aarhus yesterday. If Bradley is looking for a little center back protection and he doesn’t want to upset the playoff runs of MLS players, he’s going to bring in locally based players like Parkhurst and Goodson rather than fly a rookie like Omar halfway across the world to sit on the bench or in the stands. Coupled with who played in the Gold Cup and that’s all you need to know about the center back depth chart. Conrad and Boca to start, with Goodson and Parkhurst on the bench/stands (assuming Marshall is either injured or still in the playoffs).

  3. IVES: Whens’ your part 2 questions coming out? I was hoping my question would get answered in it. it’s either from SAY or APsoccer.

  4. I personally think Conrad and Califf are B National Team players that should not be considered for a World Cup roster spot because they won’t really be able to contribute since they really haven’t done much in the past. I think it’s better to go with younger players and groom them.

    I’d rather “WASTE” a potential World Cup roster spot on a young guy than someone near the end of their career.

    Even though this wasn’t the exact case in the 2002 WC…it seemed like our surprise players were the youngins!!!

  5. A little surprised that no one mentioned Parkhurst favorably……. IF Bob wants to go with a 3 man backline. In a back 4 he would be a disaster and Bob knows it.

  6. I think Conrad will get the spot if Marshall doesn’t. I would like to see Gonzales called in though. I think he would be a great late game sub. It would get him some quality competition without extreme pressure. These games may be the best pre-world cup tests we will have.

  7. Ok, so I just compared all these guys in Football Manager, and Goodson is the obvious choice. He’s the best in the air, the best at marking, and the best passer. His decisions aren’t that great though.

    And just to throw Parkhurst in here, and support something I said earlier, he does have the best composure of any US international center back.

  8. I’m guessing it’s because Califf will never be a first choice center back for the national team (because he’s 29 and he’d have to displace Bocanegra who’s only a year older or Onyewu who’s two years younger)

  9. dangit, 150 or so comments late, I was going to weigh in with my “novel” idea and say Omar. TimberJ was there from the get-go. 🙂

    Omar it is.

  10. Adding on to other comments, I also like Orozco, though I think him, Bornstein, and Castillo will all fight for the same position (which is not central defense).

  11. Parkhurst never makes since.
    “the pickings are slim as far as defenders with previous national team experience.” True, but if you are naming a few with national team experience and then noobs like Parkhurst, why not throw Califf out there into the arena? Only Conrad has been brought into a comparable number of USMNT camps, but Califf has been brought into way more Bradley camps. Naming Parkhurst over Califf? Sheesh! If I were Danny, I would cry if I read this article.

  12. I’d like to see Conrad start, but Borchers called in. Every time I watch RSL I see him as a steady, do your job simply, sort of player. Rarely makes many mistakes.

  13. if u r playing FIFA 10 it should be clarence goodson who is overall 70. but in reality it should be omar gonzalez but in more reality it should be orozco.

  14. Ok, this is now my third Parkhurst related post, but when I see “patience or comfort on the ball” I think of Parkhurst. He’s a good passer, and has the best composure on the ball of any center back I’ve seen in MLS (although he’s not in MLS anymore and also that’s not all that impressive anyway).

    But, still he’s like 150 lbs and that’s just not good enough.

  15. I know what you guys mean. For the Nats, based on form and personnel, we’ve always played Boca inside when we can.

    I guess I just added that qualifier because he plays exclusively on the left for his club side.

  16. Parkhurst only played in two Gold Cup matches, and only looked overmatched for about 10 minutes in one of them (which I mostly attribute to the poor play of Jay Heaps).

  17. Conrad has more experience, while I believe Goodson is better. Goodson is taller than Conrad also.

    Conrad vs. one team.

    Goodson vs. the other.

    may the best man win.

  18. Omar doesn’t make those silly fouls that have plagued Gooch over the years either. He has made a few errors in early Galaxy games but has been ROCK solid the final 1/3 of the season.

  19. I think we will see something like this:

    Bornstein – Boca – John O’Brien – Cherundolo

    It’s the only move that makes sense.

  20. This is the perfect time to put to bed the notion that we must use defenders who are defenders for their club teams. We have a plethora of midfielders that everyone would like to see on the field at the same time. Try Bradley Jr and Ricardo Clark back there. We waste too many balls from the back because our defenders have no patience or comfort on the ball.

  21. Orozco, Goodon, and Conrad are all good enough choices. I think Dolo and Spector should be starting with Boca. I think we need to call in Castillo as well and use him as a sub to start getting him use to our team.

    I would love to see Whitbread, but I’m pretty sure he is injured.

  22. I’m going to have to go with Conrad. Although I think Goodson, and Parkhurst should be called into camp…as well as Orozco.

  23. One of the roles Onyewu plays for the US defense is to win balls in the air. He is better at that than any of the prospective candidates. Cherundolo, Bornstein are both on the small side and will not be able to help much in that regard. Spector is not bad in the air, but his speed on the right is needed, while Cherundolo is playing well, a fast attacker can simply run by him. Orozco is only 5’11″”, hardly an imposing figure to replace Onyewu’s aireal dominance. Bocanegra is solid in the air, but is just under 6′ and cannot replace the role Onyewu plays. Goodson at 6’4″, Marshall at 6’3″” and Conrad at 6’2″ are better equipped for that role. I am still a bit uncomfortable with Bornstein at LB, mostly due to small size, but partly because he is clearly more comfortable going forward than being 100% defenseive, that argues we might need to use a true defender there and unless Castillo can show he has what it takes(he has the same not 100% defender tendancies that J.B has) , Bocanegra may be needed at left back.

    All that argues that Goodson, Conrad and Marshall will be called in November and possibly Orozco and Castillo. The issue then is how to look at them in a meaningful way. Spector or Dolo at R.B. then probably Boca and one of the 3 big guys at CB and either J.B or Castillo at L.B. I think we certainly do not want 3 guys new to the team all at once. That argues one game with:
    Spector, Goodson/Marshall, Boca, Borstein, Which? Goodson or Marshall will probably depend on health and recent performances.
    and the other with
    Cherundolo, Conrad, Boca, Castillo

    That uses 7 different backs, but does not put more than 1 player who has not played with the others over the last year or so in at any one time.

  24. I’ll agree that bringing in a squad with an entirely new line-up is not the right choice, but if you don’t bring in new players to see how they slot in with the rest of the regular line-up and to just see what you have in reserve, when would you? I would say to at least bring in someone with experience like Goodson or Conrad and maybe a couple guys that might deserve a look or a shot to prove themselves.

  25. ONE mistake. Yes, it was a big one, but he’s not even 23 yet. He made ONE mistake. That shouldn’t kill his chances to play with the US, especially if he’s got the talent.

  26. As many have said – MLS playoff status matters in a big way. Forgetting this for the moment, my choice would be:

    1) Marshall, if healthy

    2) Cameron – comfortable on the ball, decent speed, decent size

    3) Conrad

    4) Spector

    5) Goodson

    6) Gonzalez

    7) Orozco

  27. What no one seems to have said on here is that Bornstein has played a lot of emergency centerback for Chivas USA this year.

    And Bob likes Bornstein a lot more than a lot of us do.

    I’m not saying it will happen, but stranger things have.


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