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USMNT Daily Update: Who should partner Cameron in central defense?

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Geoff Cameron may have only recently established himself as a starting centerback for the U.S. Men's National Team, but it is no longer a stretch to say that, right now, he is the national team's best centerback and a player who should remain a starter for a long time.

With that being said, the real question becomes just who will Jurgen Klinsmann partner with Cameron for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala. Carlos Bocanerga and Clarence Goodson both started games against Jamaica in September, with different results (though the circumstances for each player were also different).

On one hand you have Goodson, a younger option, and arguably a more technical option, a better passer who is playing more regularly on the club side. On the other hand you have the stronger and more experienced Bocanegra, who is still better in the air and more of a threat on set pieces. He has faced tough matches on many more occasions than Goodson, and he is a different enough player that you can argue he complements Cameron better.

So who will Klinsmann turn to as Cameron's centerback partner? Let us consider the opposition they are set to face:

Antigua & Barbuda has some speed up top that can give the U.S. trouble on the counterattack, as we saw when Pete Byers toasted Oguchi Onyewu in the qualifier in Tampa in June. It is a safe bet that the faster and more athletic Cameron would likely be matched up against Antigua & Barbuda's best forward, which would leave the other American centerback to play the role of organizer as well as support for Cameron. Bocanegra handled this role fairly well against Jamaica in Columbus, and stood up to the few challenges Jamaica was able to mount.

Goodson didn't have quite as successful a turn against Jamaica, but he also had to face them in Kingston, in a game where the 'Reggae Boyz' had more of the ball and attacked more often. Goodson can be a steady centerback, but he can also get bullied. Of the matches remaining in qualifying, you could argue Antigua & Barbuda would be a better match-up for him than Guatemala, with the physical and tricky Carlos Ruiz.

If you are Jurgen Klinsmann, do you risk playing the 33-year-old Bocanegra in two straight qualifiers, or do you rest him for the first in Antigua before trotting him out in a home qualifier against Guatemala, where he will be rested and ready to neutralize a player he knows very well in Ruiz?

This is why we might see Klinsmann split the starts again. Guatemala could be playing for their lives, and might wind up needing a victory to advance, not quite the circumstances you want to put an older centerback who hasn't been playing regularly into.

That said, Klinsmann also has to know that a win against Antigua & Barbuda would leave the USA in great shape heading into the group finale in Kansas City. That makes starting he best possible lineup the ideal scenario for the Oct. 12th qualifier in the Caribbean.

So who do you start? Bocanegra or Goodson? If it were me, I would start the more experienced Bocanegra, who looked impressive in the win against Jamaica (and who also scored a goal against Antigua & Barbuda in the June meeting). Let the veteran start, and secure the win, then if he isn't able to go 90 against Guatemala you bring in Goodson.

When 2013 rolls around, and assuming the U.S. is in the Hexagonal, Klinsmann can begin to seriously question what role Bocanegra should still have at his age, but we saw against Jamaica last month that he can absolutely still play at a good enough level to stay on the field for matches as important as the ones coming up later this month.


What do you think? Who would you start against Antigua & Barbuda? Would you start Bocanegra in both qualifiers, or would you split the starts beween Bocanegra and Goodson?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Goodson – Omar in the future and Parkhurst at right back if Callenor not in the squad – MP brings versatility as he runs the wing back attack and is great crosser of the ball and is a natural center back.

  2. Omar is the best aerial threat I’ve ever seen as an American, along with his other developing skills. The air dominator does not grow on trees, very unique skill set Omar has, growing distribution game. He needs to stay healthy so the rest can happen. Is the perfect replacement for Boca, with upside much higher

  3. Why exactly has Cameron been anointed an automatic starter? What happened to the Goodson-Bocanegra partnership? I’m still not all that confident in Cameron.

  4. I would like to see this roster:
    GK T.Howard
    RB G.Cameron
    RCB J.Jones
    LCB C.Bocanegra
    LB F.Johnson
    RDM D.Williams
    LDM M.Bradley
    RAM L.Donovan
    CAM C.Dempsey
    LAM G.Zusi
    ST H.Gomez

  5. You may be right about Cameron but he is the best of what is available right now.

    Name me who you had in mind that you can prove is a better option? The others got hurt (Gonzo), or lost form ( Ream) or where more interested in a transfer at the time (John).

    Whatever the reason, Cameron was who was left standing and he has done well. I love Jay and he is a superior man marker to Cameron and a more uncompromising defender.

    If you were going to put ten men behind the ball and put two banks of four in front of the US goal then Jay is your man.

    Unfortunately, he is not that fast anymore or mobile and he is not very good either on the ball or passing it. Boca is already fairly immobile. The US can’t afford two statues in center of the defense. Jay at his best is Gooch-lite and we already have phased Gooch out.

    JK wants defenders who are more than defensive specialists so Cameron wins that battle. He fits in better with what the team is doing.

  6. Actually it is the other way around.

    These guys need to make a splash and give the USMNT a reason to look at them.

    For a variety of reasons, where they are now has not been reason enough for them to get a call so far. Therefore, they should be doing things that tells JK they are trying to improve and trying to make an impression. It is a “what have you done for me lately” kind of thing.

    Believe it or not the US will be just fine without all four of those guys so it is up to them to show why the US would be even better with them.

  7. Have you actually seen Packwood play and if so could you explain why you are so high on him for those of us who have not seen him?

    And if you haven’t seen him play could you explain why you are so high on him?

  8. When you marrying an American, it’s three years but because of the built in waiting periods it still comes out to nearly four years.

    How old is Nagbe? If he ever gets his citizenship he’ll be focused on 2018.

  9. thats kinda sad saying im not quite sure if he is a cb, i was really impressed with him against arsenal playing the holding mid, i would kinda like him to play where williams did against jamaica

  10. It should be pretty clear to everyone that JK favors versatile players. This is the guy who played Torres at left back ( and I was betting JK was going to move Cameron to left back for that game, Edu at center back, Fabian at right back and Danny Williams on the right wing,after all.

    JK is well aware of how versatile Cameron is since Cameron did this Swiss army knife stuff at Houston. It’s good for an emergency but I can’t see JK playing Cameron anywhere but center back.

    The USMNT has been looking for a Gooch replacement for a while now and JK needs stability in his back four.

    JK will be looking, of course, for qualified back ups or replacements,particularly for the older Dolo and Boca, but absent that, Johnson, Cameron, Boca and Dolo are JK’s preferred starters and that is how they will line up in the World Cup if we make it.

    If JK wants to convert a center back to right back he can do that with Parkhurst who probably has a lot more experience at right back than Cameron and is probably better at it. And he also has Edu to do the Swiss army knife business.

    I’m sure it’s a lot of fun for fans to be moving these guys all over the place but stability at some level is necesary to promote the kind of teamwork and cohesion this edition of the USMNT still lacks, especially in defense.

    Cameron has been great but he is still quite inexperienced internationally and it shows.
    Having said that, the plus side of playing midfield is it is a great way to increase Cameron’s soccer IQ under pressure. By playing midfield he has a much better idea of how the entire team works, where everyone is supposed to be and so on. I’m sure he is learning a lot.

    Still, it would probably be best for the USMNT and easier on Cameron if JK just told him:” You.Center back,left side,go!”

  11. “George John

    THE best American defender”

    ?? Since he has never played for the US and hasn’t really even been in camp John does not deserve that title.

    You might as well give it to Brede Hangeland.

    There is no evidence that John will do well with a group of guys he doesn’t even seem all that interested in training with.

    His performances for Dallas are evidence he MIGHT do well with the US but until he actually bothers to show up, the US has plenty of alternatives who are actually interested in the USMNT for real.

  12. “With that being said, the real question becomes just who will Jurgen Klinsmann partner with Cameron for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala. …

    So who will Klinsmann turn to as Cameron’s center back partner? “

    Klinsmann just recently said he wasn’t experimenting during these qualifiers so other than an occasional exceptional situation (i.e. Gatt) he’s not going to call in Gonzalez, John, Hines, Eddie Pope, Alexi Lalas, Marcelo Balboa or anyone else who has not been part of the recent mix at this point.

    Nor should he especially at center back, just about the worst place to slot in a newbie in a World Cup Qualifier.

    That means most likely Boca starts both with Goodson, Parkhurst and Edu as backup/alternate starter options. The only other candidates might be shifting one of the midfielders such as Jones or Beckerman, though that seems unlikely. It’s amusing that people disqualify Beckerman on grounds of his speediness or lack thereof, as if Boca was a burner. If you look at the semifinalists for the World Cup final they all had variations of the mobile CB + savvy vet/ cerebral CB pairing ( example mobile Pique, the Spanish Cameron, and savvy vet/ cerebral Puyol ( with two arms).

    Cameron is the mobile guy.

  13. This is fun subject to talk about but only the voice that counts has already decided this one. JK left Boca home against Mexico, didn’t start him against A&B and even used an excuse about club playing time no one beleived. Goodson would have certainlty started in the second Jamaica match if he were available because he & Cam gave up nothing in Kingston. Tim is the new captain and it’s Goodson & Cam in the middle….all done, nothing else to see here.

  14. i agree it has to be Boca. my 23 (yes, i’m taking it there), i’m including two defenders that won’t likely be there though, i bet you can guess who:

    GK: Howard, Guzan
    D: Johnson, Chandler, Lichaj, Parkhurst, Dolo, Cameron, Boca, Goodson, Spector
    M: Zusi, LD, Jones, Bradley, Williams, Corona, Dempsey, Shea, Torres
    F: Jozy, Boyd, Gomez

    personally, I don’t think Edu, Beckerman, Fiscal, or another keeper should be called in. the chances of that actually happening? slim to none. i think it’s pretty obvious Lichaj won’t get a call and who knows about Chandler. if those two are out, i think JK will have Edu and Beckerman for sure. i didn’t even bother listing Kljestan because JK isn’t going to call him. people can complain about Spector but he’ll be there because he plays 90 minutes and is versatile. Omar needs to stay with LA and just finish out the year and get called in November. my main dude Gooch just isn’t getting any love in Spain, so obvious no. Mix and Bedoya would be interesting call ups. I highly doubt either will get the call though. Same goes with Beasley, but he probably has a better chance than those two.

  15. dude, he was being sarcastic and pointing out those were all things USMNT fans said at some point in regards to each of those players.

  16. In response to each of the above. He shouldn’t and probably won’t get a call up because he can’t even get minutes with Stoke. So it’s beside the point to discuss him right now.

  17. Unquestionably Bocanegra for a reason not yet mentioned (I think). The man can score goals off set pieces. He has excellent production for a defender. We’re going to get a lot of those set pieces in both games and he can make them count.

  18. although edu should be considered, he can make very rash tackles. i’m not sure i want him in a position where he’ll be spending more time in our box.

  19. +1
    yes..yes..yes. I think what hurts him is the Danish league reputation, a point/fact that people seem to have that is totally wrong because it’s a stronger, more technical and better league than MLS,and the fact that people dont watch him on a regular, but the USMNT needs a player like Parkhurst

  20. In other USMNT news, Aron Johansson got called up by Iceland today for their next qualifiers; was expected so not a big loss

  21. We have defenders proving themselves everyday but no one seems to notice because of the fact that we are fixed on regulars….Goodman, Gooch, Gonzalez, Orozco etc
    Demerit put forth a man of the match performance with MLS allstars at centerback, one of the reasons Allstars won that game……
    Parkhurst put on an excellent performance with Nordsjaelland vs chelsea at RB, confident and composed in the back….
    Frank Simek has been in league 1 and playing full time regularly…..(if we can pick from MLS, we can select from league 1 in the EL for at least our camp)
    The”new” Tim Ream…..Bolton (hey you never know until you try it…again….he’s getting professional training and besides thats why it’s called camp)
    How about someone from the defense that has allowed the least amount of Goals Against in MLS Matt Besler and lawrence Olum….(Olum is Kenyan)
    We need to start thinking outside the Box….especially since our “box” is not that big

  22. Agreed, I thought Edu and Cameron looked good against Mexico. Give him another run out there especially with Danny Williams coming on now and MB coming back, the midfield is stacked. Run edu and cameron for the Antigua match and then Boca or Goodson vs Guatemala to deal with Carlos “The Fish” Ruiz’s shenanigans.

  23. LOL don’t make me laugh… plus, he snubbed the Nats already…. i would not call him ever… unless he is tearing it uip like last year ….

  24. Yeah, the one time switch only applies if the player hasn’t played any official, Fifa recognized ‘A’ competitions. Subotic played for Serbia in the WC, so he’s locked in for good. Jermaine Jones, for example, was able to file his one time switch because he had only played in friendlies for Germany.

  25. De Merit will live in NATS folklore for years for his amazing run in 2010, but if you are rating him higher than Cameron right now I simply don’t know how to respond to you, for you must be a bit unhinged.

  26. It’s taken this long for somebody to mention Parkhurst? He’s a far, far better option than either Ream (not yet good enough for international level) or Gonzalez (not enough international experience). Besides, Bocanegra is getting older and might not be around for 2014. Start grooming Parkhurst *now* for 2014.

  27. So the one time switch doesn’t apply? I thought he never capped as a senior US player and don’t really know the ins and outs of the switch rule…

  28. This might be the worst story ive ever read. Since when is cameron a no-brainer in center defense? Hes not that great, hes a good player but not an automatic starter. Also with his club hes played holding mid and right back, and a stunning total of 0 games at cb. I wouldnt like to see the USMNT start cameron when he hasnt played cb since the last qualifiers. Furthermore, I think gonzalez, john, and ream are very good cbs, even demerit to be honest. I would expect to see bocanegra and goodson start at cbs in antigua.

  29. He hasn’t for his current club. but neither some national CBs that play DM for their clubs. I think Cameron will be just fine.

  30. Edu’s future at national level IS the CB position. He is tall enough at 6’1 and very fast, faster than both BOCA and Cameron. Too bad he doesn’t get the playing time at club.


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