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Goodson, Ream form unique USA centerback tandem

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TAMPA – Last November, Clarence Goodson and Tim Ream started together for the first time. The unveiling of the tandem came in a friendly they helped the U.S. team win 1-0 by blanking an experienced South Africa side playing at home.

Now, seven months later, Goodson and Ream are in the process of forming a formidable pair in the heart of the U.S. back line. One that is as balanced as it is unique.

In their first major start together this past Tuesday, the duo helped the Americans shut out a rival Canadian team comprised of talented attackers like Dwayne De Rosario, Josh Simpson and Simeon Jackson in a Gold Cup opener. For the most part, Goodson and Ream were strong in their challenges and both looked comfortable despite having limited experience playing together.

Where they truly excelled was in distributing the ball to the midfield and forwards with precise passes, something that helped the Americans dominate possession in a 2-0 win and something rarely seen from U.S. centerbacks in the past.

"We feel that it's a good combination," said head coach Bob Bradley following the U.S. team's win. "They played together in the friendly in South Africa, and as we've gone through training, we feel like the balance between the two is good. Even the second half against Spain in terms of their understanding, a lot of positives. For us, that was certainly one of the highlights of the night because I think it was a good game from both."

With experienced alternatives available for the game against Canada (such as Jonathan Bornstein and Oguchi Onyewu), Bradley could have opted for a much different back four. But that he had enough trust in Goodson and Ream to hand them starts in such an important match speaks volumes of how much he rates their ability to pass out of the back along with the confidence he has in them.

That trust has also produced a sense of self belief in them.

"It's huge (for) confidence," said Ream after Thursday's training in Tampa. "Whenever you can get minutes in general in an important game, it gives you more confidence and something to build on and work at it."

Goodson and Ream will need to continue to improve as they have a challenging test on Saturday against a Panama side that poses problems on several levels.

"They have some pretty talented players, some quick players, some guys that are really talented on the ball and tough to get the ball off of," said Goodson, who played against Panama in the 2009 Gold Cup. "We know we have to be honest."

Defending will be their primary objective in the second Group C match, but what makes Goodson and Ream unique is their ability to link the defense with the attack with accurate passes. That was on prime display against Canada, and is something the partnership will need to replicate in order to help the Americans get a win and qualification to the knockout stages of the tournament.

With the way the tandem has played so far in the early stages of its introduction, things look to bode well for the United States.

"It's gone well," said Ream following the victory over Canada. "Over the past week-and-a-half we've been in and out together (in training), sitting down with the coaches, him and I talking to them and discussing certain things.

"And the biggest thing is just enjoying playing next to him. I think we enjoy playing next to each other. … Communication is a big thing, too, and we communicate really well and I think that's definitely a big part of it."


What do you think of the Goodson-Ream centerback tandem? Think they are capable of leading the U.S. team to the Gold Cup final?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. American CBs who are currently better than Tim Ream:

    George John
    Omar Gonzalez
    Chad Marshall
    Nat Borchers

    That’s my personal list, Ream is currently 42nd in the MLS Castrol index.

    John 7
    Gonzalez 6
    Marshall 16
    Borchers 4

  2. I agree with this.

    To me Ream and Bocanegra were the shakiest members of our team against Canada.

    George John is better than Tim Ream both now and most likely in the future. And although Ream was a rookie last year John is only a few months older than Ream.

  3. Any other option besides Goodson, Boca, DeMerit, and maybe Whitbread. So being the fourth/fifth best option probably means he isn’t completely ready.

  4. I love when people get on here and slam Ives when he writes a piece. What is fluff here? The tandem is unique. The USA has always had clear-first, no nonsense CBs, and now with the prospects of these two on the back line, there is a possibility for good tackling, positioning, and greater distribution?

    Were the quotes too fluffy for some of you?

    Now, to address the ridiculous statements above regarding Ream getting abused v Spain.

    I have often expressed my disdain with the responses from many of you, usually ridiculous anecdotes about what makes a good forward (never jogging in defense), how our midfield should be better, or how we need to bring in some obscure mid-league American player that nobody has hardly heard of or ever seen play to fix all of our problems. Oh, and let’s not forget the constant pining for Freddy Adu, who many have claimed is somehow our best offensive threat (see Dempsey please).

    Let me hash out some reality here, for those of you with delusional brains: United States soccer is a decent, respectable, mid-tier national team with a growing domestic league and a massive potential for improvement over the next couple of World Cup cycles. The midfielders are industrious and capable, although lack the inherent skill of the Argentines, Spanish, Brazilians, French, etc. While Michael Bradley and Stuart Holden may yet prove to be the best combination for the USA, the fact will still remain that they are players on mid-level competing European clubs. Nothing to disrespect. However, when the best players in the middle of the park play for clubs like Fulham, Bolton, and Aston Villa, the implication here is to not expect the possession of Barcelona or the flash of Real Madrid. There are some of you that speak of the way the Spanish play at the end of critiquing a USA match. This isn’t comparing apples and oranges. This is comparing apples with sand. One of them is not even fruit.

    As the game in America grows, and more youngsters start in soccer as opposed to football, baseball and basketball, so too will the American talent pool grow. The spirit of the American player is what makes him strong, forging an admirable career exemplified by professionalism, work-ethic, and a dedication to improvement (McBride, Reyna, etc.) Others have emerged with more skill, laying a firm foundation going forward, and helping establish a strong European respect for the abilities of these American exports (Donovan at Everton, Dempsey at Fulham, Bradley in Germany, Holden at Bolton, Jones at Schalke and Blackburn, etc.) Finally, American keepers hold the respect of the world, with players like Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel, and Tim Howard garnering international acclaim for their solid careers.

    All this being said, USMNT fans at large seem to have unrealistic expectations of their current stock of players. While none would blindly state that the USA can compete regularly with the top dogs of international football, whenever the boys play poorly, comparisons with the top 5 are often made. Why? Name one player on the current US team that stars on a Champion’s League caliber team. There are none. This is not to say that none of them could, but currently, they do not. Ergo, it is ridiculous to insinuate that when our boys play bad, they should look to emulate a vastly superior side, when we simply do not have the players at our disposal to do so. This is why coach Bradley plays the squad as he does: he maximizes on the talent he does have to play a style best suited to their strengths.

    At the core level, the USA should aspire to play like world beaters, but when push comes to shove, idealism is impractical. The USA is a 15th-25th ranking team, and will be for the forseeable future. It is time to start rating them as such when we watch them. Stop wishing for MB to pass like Xavi. It won’t happen. Stop wishing for Ream to be able to mark like Vidic. Not going to happen. Stop expecting our forward to knock in goals like Chicarito or David Villa because…you get the idea. Aspiration is one thing, judgment to an unfair standard is another thing entirely.

    Wake up, lads.

  5. Well said. And the fact that some people seem to think the Boca-Gooch combo didn’t give up a goal in the history of that pairing.

  6. Does anyone know if Boca has been playing at fullback (as opposed to CB) for St. Etienne?

    And if it’s CB, I imagine he’d still be above Ream/Goodson if we actually had a left back.

  7. I like this partnership. Should be the US central defense for the foreseeable future. Need more youth and speed at the outside fullback position though.


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