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USMNT Daily Update: Surveying the centerback depth chart

GonzalezBesler (Getty)


There were some pretty nervous U.S. Men’s National Team fans not too long ago, when the roster for March qualifiers were announced and long-time captain Carlos Bocanegra was left out. His absence meant an inexperienced group would be responsible or trying to accrue valuable points in the CONCACAF Hexagonal.

Two games and four points later, the feelings about the U.S. centerback pool are much, much different. Omar Gonzalez has the look of a defense anchor for years to come while Matt Besler’s showing against Mexico has him looking like a perfect long-term centerback partner for Gonzalez. Throw in Clarence Goodson’s admirable showing against Costa Rica in the snow and you now have centerback looking like it is a position with a variety of options.


The centerback pool has its share of veterans, as well as a promising crop of younger players who could be pushing Gonzalez and Besler before long in the race to lead the next generation of central defenders.

Then you have a prospect like German-born John Anthony Brooks, who is playing regularly for Bundesliga 2 leaders Hertha Berlin and attracting attention from the German Youth National Team set-up.

With the summer stacked with national team matches, from World Cup qualifiers to the Gold Cup, there will be a plethora of opportunities for players in the centerback pool to boost their stock and move up on the centerback depth chart.

Here is a closer look at where the top centerback options stand on the USMNT central defender depth chart:



His considerable improvement in recent qualifiers have him looking like a sure-fire World Cup starter. The big question now is just where he will be playing a year from now. His MLS contract is up in January and he won’t be lacking for options.


Still a first-choice option at centerback when the regular right back choices are healthy, Cameron sure did look solid at right back, which makes you wonder if Klinsmann might consider a move there if Matt Besler keeps impressing. One way or another, Cameron is a starting defender.


Climbed up the charts with his head-turning outing against Mexico. Some might think Clarence Goodson should still be ahead of him, but Besler’s handling of ‘El Tri’ has to have Klinsmann thinking about keeping Gonzalez and Besler together for June qualifiers.


Was outstanding in the snow vs. Costa Rica, and his selfless act of pulling himself out of the lineup ahead of the Mexico match because of a gimpy leg earned him considerable points under Klinsmann. The question is whether he’ll ever get another chance to start in qualifying. It might be tough to stay ahead of Bocanegra on the depth chart, let alone staying ahead of the surging Matt Besler.


Omar Gonzalez’s rapid maturation has left Bocanegra looking like less of a necessity. He is still a viable option when he’s playing regularly, and his experience is invaluable, but if the younger options impress in June, Bocanegra might be on the outside looking in for good, though a role as leader and captain of the Gold Cup team could await him if he doesn’t feature in qualifying. Don’t go ruling him out of the HEX just yet.


Still a high-level defensive midfield option, though he didn’t exactly shine vs. Mexico. If injuries decimated the centerback pool the way they did left back, you can bet Edu would get the call to play there.


Collecting big bucks to ride the pine for UEFA Champions League quarterfinalist Malaga, Onyewu is someone Klinsmann has to consider for the Gold Cup in order to get a long look at him. In fact, don’t be surprised if Klinsmann takes a look at him in the May camp ahead of the June qualifiers. He may not be getting regular minutes, but when healthy he’s still a solid USMNT option.


Off to a great start to the 2013 season, John has been a bit of a forgotten man when it comes to the USMNT, but if he keeps playing the way he’s been playing lately, he will absolutely merit consideration for the Gold Cup.


First thing’s first. We don’t even know if he’s ready to commit to the United States. Secondly, despite what some might tell you, he is NOT ready for the senior team (not yet anyway). What he does have is great potential and if he plays for the United States in the Under-20 World Cup it would go a long way toward establishing him as someone who could climb up this list significantly over the next year.


He’s just 22, and still learning the centerback position, but anyone who has watched him play regularly for the Union at centerback over the past year can tell you he has the tools to be a special one. Now that it looks as though he will remain in central defense for Philadelphia, he should only continue to improve, and a Gold Cup roster spot is a very realistic possibility if he keeps playing well.

OTHERS TO CONSIDER: Michael Orozco Fiscal, Matt Hedges, Chris Schuler, A.J. Soares, Austin Berry.


What do you think of the current USMNT centerback pool? Who should be higher on the list? Who didn’t make the list that you feel should be on it?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Absolutely no need to include Onyewu and, by extension, anyone below him on this list. Ream, on the other hand, deserves the blurb written about the older, slower, more injury-prone CB.

  2. I told everyone Ream sucked, but when I got on here everyone was taking up for him. He made very dumb mistakes and my opinions were formed from that.

    • Ream is like Boswell without even the same level of defending ability. In a flat back 4 I think slow CBs are a suicidal choice, and will get exposed eventually. Ream is calm on the ball but then makes calm mistakes…..people confuse calmness with correct

      Ream does not tick off the main two CB boxes to me, which are the ability to defend well, and the ability to win headers. People emphasize ball skills but to me that’s gravy, and if you’re not getting people marked out of games and winning 50/50s you’re going to struggle to win big ones even if the defender is composed on the ball and occasionally does something nifty. You need defense most nights but most defenders praised for “going forward” only accomplish something every few games.

  3. Does anyone know if John Anthony Brooks would be cap-tied if he played for the U-20 team in Turkey this summer? Having him on that squad would be an incredible boost for the back line and it sounds like he’d be a sure-fire starter on that squad, but if it doesn’t get him closer to making the permanent switch to the US it’s a big gamble to deny other player that opportunity.

    • Absolutely correct, PD. It’s really time to put guys who truly want to wear the shirt at the front of the line, and not give preference to those players whose preference is to play for another country or are still sitting on the fence.

      • in response to you and big poppa above:

        wow. usually when folks are simply posting on a “if I ran the world” vibe they at least try to dress it up with a bit more false logic, but you really just lay it out there, doncha?

        “… I just can’t imagine that most of these guys will ever play with the heart that an American flag loving home grown player will. I want somebody on the field who is committed as I feel for the USA.”

        I’m sorry you have such a limited imagination, but am sorrier still that you have such little empathy. I’ve known folks who have immigrated to this country and become citizens, and I know a fair number of ex-pats who live abroad. To a person, their passion for the country burns white hot, mainly because they have the context of knowing first hand what it’s like to live in another system or culture. Not that they necessarily think the system other system is bad, but they appreciate the difference because they have lived it firsthand.

        Many folks who are born here (in my own experience) have never stopped to appreciate what an opportunity they lucked in to through genetics and geography. Sure they get it intellectually, but they haven’t LIVED it. For you to assume that a native born person is across the board more patriotic, more fervent, more american… it’s just ignorant. I would go so far to say that chances are folks who were born abroad and come into their american-ness by choice probably feel more proud of the opportunity than you can ever imagine… though by your own words it doesn’t seem too hard to believe that you couldn’t imagine it.

        I don’t care if the player has bloodlines from Germany, Mexico, Columbia, Argentinia, Haiti, Ghana, Nigeria, Greece, Hungary, or is just a down-home a cracker-a$$, blue blooded WASP, or Indigenous American (I guess you’d call them an “Injin”) if they’ve made it to the 23, if they play hard for 90+ and if they are positive ambassadors for the game and the jersey, I’ll welcome them with open arms. The competition only makes us stronger.

  4. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gooch, Boca, and Goodson get more chances but on recent form they don’t deserve it. In Gooch and Boca’s case they strike me as “find someplace to play and we’ll talk” types because I don’t know how you can expect a benchrider in pro play, at an age where fitness is important, to just turn on the switch internationally.

    Yes, you could find their PT in Gold Cup, and in Boca’s case perhaps that’s worth the risk. But you would then be squeezing out up and coming talent, at which point my thought is the position is being played so shoddily most US games that incumbency is naive. I don’t know how you fix that picking from the usual suspects.

    We could really use for some players to step up and seize the position. Reward success, not pecking order. I think Gonzo and Besler played well, though they need to continue to do so. I think Cameron’s Stoke gaffe last weekend suggests he’s vulnerable centrally…..remember he’s a convert from RM. I think Goodson and Gooch are jokes, and Boca is not playing up to his standard because of age and fitness.

    I would like to see Brooks in action, Gold Cup or something.

    Ream is massively overrated to the extent he’s being mentioned. I’m a big believer in being good at the prime directive for your position, and he’s just not that great a defender. And for someone praised for ball skills, he had 2 of the 5 gaffes of the year on his way out of MLS, eg, square passing it right to the other side, things like that. And he’s slow so he can get beaten by fast players.

  5. I’m personnaly not a big fan of looking for talent in Germany to play for our national team. We don’t need to look overseas. Its a lazy fix. Jones has had some good outings that can’t be denied but I just can’t imagine that most of these guys will ever play with the heart that an American flag loving home grown player will. I want somebody on the field who is committed as I feel for the USA.

    • wow. usually when folks are simply posting on a “if I ran the world” vibe they at least try to dress it up with a bit more false logic, but you really just lay it out there, doncha?

      “… I just can’t imagine that most of these guys will ever play with the heart that an American flag loving home grown player will. I want somebody on the field who is committed as I feel for the USA.”

      I’m sorry you have such a limited imagination, but am sorrier still that you have such little empathy. I’ve known folks who have immigrated to this country and become citizens, and I know a fair number of ex-pats who live abroad. To a person, their passion for the country burns white hot, mainly because they have the context of knowing first hand what it’s like to live in another system or culture. Not that they necessarily think the system other system is bad, but they appreciate the difference because they have lived it firsthand.

      Many folks who are born here (in my own experience) have never stopped to appreciate what an opportunity they lucked in to through genetics and geography. Sure they get it intellectually, but they haven’t LIVED it. For you to assume that a native born person is across the board more patriotic, more fervent, more american… it’s just ignorant. I would go so far to say that chances are folks who were born abroad and come into their american-ness by choice probably feel more proud of the opportunity than you can ever imagine… though by your own words it doesn’t seem too hard to believe that you couldn’t imagine it.

      I don’t care if the player has bloodlines from Germany, Mexico, Columbia, Argentinia, Haiti, Ghana, Nigeria, Greece, Hungary, or is just a down-home a cracker-a$$, blue blooded WASP, or Indigenous American (I guess you’d call them an “Injin”) if they’ve made it to the 23, if they play hard for 90+ and if they are positive ambassadors for the game and the jersey, I’ll welcome them with open arms. The competition only makes us stronger.

  6. everyone is saying not to rush Besler into the starting XI but he is 26 years old and has been pro for 4 years now; only a year younger than Cameron and two years older than Gonzalez, Now is his time!

    I say keep Besler-Gonzalez together through qualifying and Gold Cup; they make a great lefty-righty, lightning-thunder combo if you know what i mean… I like what I see with John, id bring him in as the 3rd CB asap.

    I prefer Cameron as a RB, he seems more comfortable and its nice knowing that at least one of our wings is well covered at all times. Chandler and Dolo are probably still better, but if we want proven and reliable for the next 2 years Cameron is a mile ahead of those two. LB; johnson, chandler, dmb, whoever they all are okay in defense but better going forward its good to have 3 stay at home defenders and 1 wild card; especially on the road.


    then again; we never get the “best” lineup with injuries, etc — always the day of line up..

    • Agree, beto, that Besler and Gonzalez look promising after the great showing against Mexico. But it is still too early to carve their names in stone as the starting center backs through qualifying and the Gold Cup. But I have no doubt, would gladly risk a 25-cent bet (Chris_TheBassPlayer 🙂 that Klinsmann will be starting them together May 29 against Belgium for further evaluation. And if they pass the test, we will see them starting against Germany and then Jamaica and then Panaman and on and on and on. Exciting.

      • Nah, I can’t take the bet, I agree with you. We need to see how they look against Belgium and hopefully Germany.

  7. Did anyone else notice the expression on Besler’s face when the national anthem was played at Azteca. Kind of a serene spaced out Mona Lisa smile…. It was so unusual, I thought man, this is going to be real interesting, the dude was a loose as could be.

    It’s a big plus that he is a lefty and an organizer. I’d like to see another organizer in the CB pool to have some depth. Goodson’s a little closer than the others, Cameron’s a tweener, Omar is not an organizer yet. It will be interesting to see if Brooks is brought in for a look this cycle. At this point though, I don’t see a lot of other candidates joining the group with just over a year to go. Best case scenario is we settle on the starting CB pairing by summer and play them together for a full year.

  8. “Cameron sure did look solid at right back”

    Are you serious? He had several big give aways vs Costa Rica that nearly cost us the game. And they were because of his poor decision making, not the snow. I love Cameron as a center back, but as a right back he was a decent option while missing our best options. Solid? No. Shaky at best.

    • he did make one bad turnover, which could have cost a few points, but otherwise played a strong game. vs Mexico I don’t recall a single error and that was against Guardado, right there with Landon as Concacaf’s best winger. Every Stoke game I have watched, more than a few, he has played well at RB.

  9. I saw an RSL guy, Chris Schuler, how about a Nat Borchers as well? Good solid center back coming back from injury on Kreis’s back line.

  10. Regardless of why it’s a shame that Ream has all but disappeared from the discussion. If the buildup to this past week (or our run in SA) has proven anything it’s that you cannot have too much depth and any position. Injuries will take any team from liking it’s odd to messing it’s pants.

  11. Some observations based on other comments. When evaluating players you need to also consider their club careers. At the national level they may play only a few times a year and everyone can have a good or bad game on occasion. So while it is early to rate Besler and Gonzalez for the national team, don’t forget that they have both won important awards for their play in MLS and have been improving every year. Regarding Onyewu, people don’t seem to know that he played for Malaga in most of their CL games in the group stage. In the game I saw he was outstanding and got raves from the English match announcers. He has the misfortune of having two extremely good internationals in front of him. Malaga is one of the best defensive teams in La Liga and in the Champions League, don’t forget. It may be premature to write him off. Bocanegra finally got back on the pitch and played 90 and his team didn’t give up a goal, so he might be on his way back, too.

  12. Can I just bring Tim Ream back into the discussion for a moment to dispel some dread common knowledge.
    1. The idea that Ream was “getting all the call ups.” He had a grand total of EIGHT CAPS.
    2. He is soft on defense. Having great distribution doesn’t necessarily make you soft. It is true that as 23-year-old MLS rookie, he didn’t exactly inspire fear in opposing forwards. That might change after time in Britain.
    3. He was a disaster in his USMNT starts. Not true. He did have one howler, where he was completely lost, but I honestly don’t remember the game of the opponent or the tournament.

    I think it’s premature to write off the 25-year-old defender after eight performances, one of which was forgettable. I thought the CBs did terrifically well against CR and Mexico. But wouldn’t it be nice if we had a CB who could hold the ball and not force MB to retreat to the final third to take the ball off the defenders’ feet?
    Just a thought.

    • Ream had more than just 1 bad performance. He had a weak gold cup in 2011, and a complete nightmare in his substitute appearance against Ecuador in which he lost his mark from a throw-in and cost us the game. Those 2-3 bad performances out of his 8 total caps doesn’t make him seem like a quality defender.

  13. Right now, my CB depth chart for Brazil would be
    1. Geoff Cameron
    2. Omar Gonzalez
    3. Matt Besler
    4. Clarence Goodson
    5. Carlos Bocanegra
    6. Maurice Edu
    7. Michael Orozco Fiscal
    8. Danny Williams
    Other options in no particular order: Michael Parkhurst, George John, John Anthony Brooks, Oguchi Onyewu, Amobi Okugo, Matt Hedges, Austin Berry, Chad Marshall, Tim Ream, Zak Whitbread, Jay Demerit (if he’s back from his Achilles)

    Cameron has to be #1 right now because he’s the closest thing we’ve had to an ever-present in the back 4. However I do think that our best option, meaning the one that would be ideal, is a Gonzalez-Besler partnership. But if we had everyone healthy and World Cup 2014 started tomorrow, I’d feel most comfortable with Omar and Geoff paired between Fabian Johnson and Steve Cherundolo.

    As for the bottom of the depth chart, I would have Orozco Fiscal and Williams ahead of the likes of GJohn, Onyewu, Brooks, and Okugo because I’ve seen them perform with this national team relatively recently. I have a hard time believing that any of those 4 could be ahead of MOF, Williams, or Parkhurst considering we’ve seen all 3 of those guys recently and all of them have been at least passable performers. If we needed to play one of them slightly out of position in a pinch (ie top 6 aren’t healthy) I’d feel just as confident as when Mo stepped in for the friendly at Azteca and when DMB filled in at LB for the last WCQ. There is no chance in hell I’d feel more comfortable with GJohn/Gooch/Okugo than with Fiscal/WIlliams/Parkhurst filling in at CB in an important match at this point. But maybe that’s just me.

  14. Chandler at RW.

    Landon at LW.

    Back line of:
    Johnson – Besler – Gonzalez – Cameron/Dolo

    I would like to see this in a match soon.

  15. Gonzalez, Goodson, Besler, John, Hedges , Okugo, not sure about Parke and Okugo is a comverted mid but they say he is playing well.

    It is time to get serious. Journos dont have to follow Klinsi around like lambs bleating “cameron” when they know he doesnt play cb for club.

    Because they play together at their clubs I would like to see John/Hedges and Okugo/Parke pairings for the gold cup.

  16. I would have to say that the CB depth is pretty stable.

    One player to keep an eye on is Chris Schuler who plays for RSL. Physically imposing at 6’4″, good pace, good in the air, reads the game well, and has very good feet for a big guy. He plays LB on occasion for RSL as well.I really think he could be a starter for the Gold Cup team this summer.

    You would have to say Gonzo and Besler have really good chemistry.

    With Chandler moving more into a winger position for Nuremberg; one has to wonder if he will be moved to winger for the Nats with Cameron and Dolo as the RB’s.

  17. It seems to me that Gonsalez and Cameron are both more comfortable on the right and pairing them causes one to play on the left where he is not comfortable. Besler seems more comfortable on the left.

    • that’s his position and strong foot.

      most impressive thing to me was that he stepped up so well in the situation when called. it can help springboard him and his confidence to the next level, great chances to display it on SKC. they are a fun team to watch btw

    • He can never stay healthy, and has never been a part of the USMNT set-up. I suppose he could still merit a look, but with so many younger options coming up the pipeline it’s tough to envision him having a late-bloomer run at some national team time.

    • Maybe if he came to MLS and proved himself. But since he’s lived most of his life Over There, and established his pro career there, he probably has the same syndrome Americans Abroad get where they’d rather spin their wheels abroad than carve out a niche, because we’re seen as a come-down.

  18. Just cause. 4-2-3-1


    Fabian——- ———Chandler

    That’s right Clint on bench. Sometimes he just pisses me off with his slow dribbling, spin move, flopping, not passing killing off attacks by holding the ball toooooo long bs.

    And gold cup in my dreams/ or better yet just for fun not gold cup


    Fabian———- ———Chandler


    Adu, Clint, Bradley, Cameron, Williams, Agudelo

      • Dribbles too slow, but Olds ball too long then flops to try and keep possession. I’ve been screaming about clint doing this for years now. He’s not a cam. Jozy gets zero service from our crap defensive miss while clint gets goal off of jozy’s hold up play, layoffs and Shit deflection. He should just be played to to with jozy and a true cam behind them otherwise he’s a sub to me. We would be a better team with a true cam ie mixx, adu, Benny, corona. I not too mention we would be a lot better too watch.

      • Sorry, sent response from phone and auto correct added some choice words in there not me, as well as just some dumb ones.

  19. I wonder how good this guys’ll look when we are playing a quality opponent and and we don’t have the luxury of defending with 9 players.

  20. George John is THE American marquee 1v1 defender in MLS, he’s also as dominant in the air as Gonzalez, quicker/faster than Besler, boasts the highest pass completion percentage of the three this year at 88%!…….all while being as vocal and organized as you like…

    Dont believe me? just watch!

    Captain obvious says get him in the same camp as Gonzalez, Besler, Boca, and Cameron and select the two who rise to the top.

    For Fun,
    Fifa 13 ratings of our Pool:

    Omar – 73
    Cameron – 72
    John – 71
    Edu – 71
    Oneywu – 70
    Bocanegra – 69
    Brooks – 68
    Besler – 67
    Goodson – 67

  21. Are there any recent news on Brooks ?, hopefully he goes commit to the US, he is a player for the future, for sure.

  22. At first glance it seems like an impressive stable…but then you think that:

    1. all those below #6 Edu are pretty speculative,

    2. two of the top 6 (Boca and Goodson) are past their prime and speed challenged

    3. three of the other top 6 are very new to the USMNT, and

    4. Edu isnt really a CB.

    So there are positives and negatives and lots of work to be done.

  23. If Brooks commits I believe JK will have to give him a shot. If a MLS CB is ready for the USMNT then I have to believe that a CB on the top BL2 team would be deserving. also with Brooks and Omar we wouldn’t have to worry to much about corners.

  24. Just curious since I don’t watch Stoke. Has Cameron ever gotten any PT at left back? If so it would be nice to see a backline of Cameron-Besler-Gonzalez-Cherundolo with Fabian Johnson getting experimented in a more advanced left wing role.

    Just a thought.

    • He’s a natural righty, fairly one footed, and IMO more athlete than pure soccer player, to the extent you’re thinking about such a switch.

      I don’t think he’s been quite the same as a defender since he hurt his knee.

  25. I actually have my cb depth chart a little different
    1. Gonzalez
    2. Cameron
    3. Bocanegra
    4. Goodson
    5. Besler
    6. Onyewu
    7. Ream
    8. John
    Also, Brooks, DeLaGara, Marshall, Whitbread, Demerit, Berry, Hines and Okugo in the mix

      • I’ve seen a little from all of them but have heard exceptional things of brooks, hines would have to get an american passport, but his father is an american citizen

  26. In the past, being a very good MLS defender didn’t necessarily translate into being a good national team defender. With the increase in skill and talent in MLS we’re finding being a top defender can make you a good national team player. (Gonzalez, Besler, Cameron was recently in MLS). By the way I never considered Tim Ream a top MLS defender, just average.

    • it’s kind of cool to see the MLS and those players get some validation like this. Got to keep it up of course, stay hungry, represent heart and soul, and kick ass

  27. In my opinioin the vets (Boca, Gooch, & Goodson – despite his performance in the CR Qualifier) are all trending down. Not to say the won’t or shouldn’t get looks over the next 9 months…but I think come May 2014 I believe most of them will have fallen out of favor.
    The one omission to the list (or mention) I feel is Seb Hines. I think he should at least be on the “To Be Considered” list. He’s said he is willing to file his FIFA paperwork if asked….He’s physical enough to bump and grind, Has good passing/distribution, and has the recovery speed needed to play a high defensive line. I’d like to see him called into the Gold Cup this summer and paired with an MLSer (George John) or a vet (Goodson/Gooch) to see where he stacks up.
    Otherwise a good list….with high potential for the future if not quite ready for right now.

  28. If Chicharito scores on that header that he typically scores 9/10 times, nobody would be talking about Gonzalez and Besler in the same way. Yes, they have lots of potential. Yes, I think they are the most likely CB pair for Brazil. Yes, they had an overall great game against Mexico. No, all of our weaknesses are not gone. I hope JK plays them together in both the Gold Cup and qualifiers (sorry LA and KC) this year. They need plenty of international games together to get ready for 2014.

    • Well, I agree that the hype would have been toned down a bit, but lets be honest, coming out with a 1-0 loss still would have been incredibly impressive for a CB pairing that was dealing with what they had to deal with. Would it have changed the way the performance was talked about? Sure, but it wouldn’t have changed the quality of the performance.

    • it’s possible if Hernandez scored there it would be different, but who knows? We know that Besler never stopped busting hard on that play to pressure him, and they all ended up crumpled into the back of the net in a heap after the miss

      • Yeah….. I think that scoring chance has been overstated. When Twellman was going off about it, I was guesstimating that on his best day, he’d put 10 out of 10 of those into the seats. Honestly, that would have been a very difficult, amazing goal to execute. Not that JH isn’t capable, but more often than not, it’s a miss. Was a dangerous run, that put a scare in me, that’s for sure, but Besler was right on his inside shoulder running him into the net and forcing Chicharito off balance and into an awkward position. It was well defended. Which of course, is kind of the point.

    • You’re overlooking that sometimes what defenders do well is get in the way and make people miss. Everyone notices when they’re off their mark and something happens, or when they win the ball. But the subtle thing is a defender up with the attacker, and the attacker can only put a weaker shot on net, or misses.

      I personally felt Mexico’s approach played into our hands because they were crossing balls into a taller defense. So I’d like to see how they handle other styles of attack. But when a forward who often scores, doesn’t, and is struggling for chances, you did your job.

  29. I think after what you saw v. Canada and v. Mexico, the Besler-Gonzalez pairing works.

    Therefore, until Cherundolo is healthy, I think Cameron is moving out of the CB equation and is our starting RB, and once ‘Dolo is back, I think Cameron gets a look as depth at CB, RB and CDM. Same goes for Edu in my opinion.

    The only true ‘depth’ I need at CB is Besler-Gonzalez, and keep Edu and Cameron in the mix if one gets hurt.

    • Cherundolo’s a better RB than Cameron, but the fact is he’s 33 and not getting any younger. If Cameron is able to handle Guardado, we need to stick with him. It doesn’t make sense to screw with the backline any more, especially since Cameron’s been the only rock in that backline for close to a year now.

      • it would be good to have them both available on the right, actual depth at that position would be nice

      • Depending on how Dolo comes back from his knee surgery I rate the RB depth chart as follows: Dolo, Chandler, Cameron, Lichaj, Betisure (sp?), S. Williams/Alston, TBD…

    • I don’t think Cameron is playing well, and I don’t know if it’s knees or just form. But right now Klinsi will go with the hot hands, and if someone is consistent they will lock it up.

      Re “fullback,” Chandler and Johnson were out last game, and with a longer camp this summer for the June qualis, Cameron will have competition. I could easily see Cameron being the odd man out……Chandler/Besler/Gonzo/Johnson.

  30. Great discussion. Omar has done with the US Nats exactly what he did at the Galaxy. Struggle in the first preseason and first few games and gradually get stronger after that. When he returned last year from injury (delivered by an erstwhile US Nat), the Galaxy went from mediocre at best to dominant defensively.

    For a young player he shows terrific leadership and seems to rise to the challenge in big games. Barring injury, or a stupid decision to go to the wrong team in Europe, I think Omar can become one of the top central defenders the US has ever produced.

  31. I would think that you need to start looking at CB’s who can play other positions, like cornerbacks,.eg,. Cameron, Onyewu or other positions that can play Center back or Cornerback (Edu, Beasley) for consideration to the WCQ and WC (if we make it) team.

    Having utility players who can play competently in another position id worth its weight in goal.

  32. Onyewu should be no where near anyone’s list of international CBs. He is at Malaga cause he has an impressive CV and showed in the previous round of qualifying injuries, lack of PT and form have turned him into a shadow of his former self. Can anyone point me to a game for the US after his injury that he played well? I’d much prefer MLS guys in form go to the Gold Cup (someone like Nat Borchers, etc.) I also want to write something negative about Edu but I already feel like a hater and I will admit he played well in the Azteca friendly.

      • In his prime he was the best defender in the pool. If he can find a steady club situation, he could definitely be a starter next summer. Don’t rule it out.

      • Yeah but his prime was 4 years ago, and two knee surgeries. That’s a long way back. Best to focus on players with a more realistic chance of contributing in 2014. Not saying the door is closed (anything is possible) but for me he remains an after thought and someone who gave us a series of world class preformamces in 2009.

      • Wrong. ‘Dolo was the best defender in the pool during Gooch’s prime. Gooch was the best head-the-ball-out-of-danger(er) during his prime.

        Every time we played against a quick-passing attack, Gooch looked like an elephant on ice skates.

      • Have to disagree. Not trying to take anything away from Dolo. He has been steady as they come at right back for us, but at the peak of his powers, I think Gooch was better. Both are still good enough to start for us next summer assuming they are healthy and playing.

      • Gooch was great in absolute bunker situations, everything else in open field play outside the box wasn’t so great.

      • In his true prime, just before he blew the patellar tendon, while he was with AC, his foot work was showing a lot of improvement. Before his move to AC I was also holding my breath when he was with the ball. But the improvement was pretty drastic and rapid. I was looking forward to watching him continue his development at Milan.

        Personally i would like to see both he and Boca on the Gold Cup roster. Having some veteran back ups come 2014 could prove important. the best way to see what they have left is to see what they have left.

    • Gooch was in great form before being sent to Malaga on loan. he was getting back to his form in the Confeds Cup. that’s why Malaga looked at him. but unfortunately it just had not worked out. we’ll see what happens with him after this season ends.

    • The fact that Gooch is still on the Malaga squad, the last I checked anyway,tells me that the guys who pay him money still feel he can come in and do the job if the starters get hurt.

      Otherwise, there is no reason to keep him around.

      I’m fascinated that you almost take it personal that Gooch is in “consideration”.

      In the first place it was Ives that said that not JK so for all we know Gooch is done. Second, it costs the US nothing to think of Gooch as an alternative. If he never gets off the bench then it’s unlikely JK calls him in. But if he has a run of a couple of games, and that can happen anytime, then a guy with his CV should not be ignored.

      If there is an injury crisis JK will need to know what Gooch might be able to bring to the table, if anything.

      • +1
        GW…is that you????? A voice of reason???
        “tells me that the guys who pay him money still feel he can come in and do the job if the starters get hurt.”……paying him 3,500,000 Euros to be exact……lol. Good post man…..

      • Are we really going to consider a guy with 1 domestic league start for the USMNT? That performance deserves a top 10 position on a depth chart? And sorry, I don’t believe his preformamces at Sporting were near his 2007-2009 form. In fact his national team call ups when he was at Sporting pretty much proved this (Antigua and Barbados anyone?).

    • Totally agree on Gooch. He is completely out of his depth when asked to play possession out of the back. Terrifying to watch his hesitation followed by the inevitable ball back to the GK.

      • The bigger rap on Gooch is he couldn’t stop Antigua’s Byers. When he was pitching shutouts I don’t think people cared about the distribution. But a big, physical guy who can no longer stop people and can’t play the ball? He’s probably bottom of the call sheet below Ream now.

  33. We’ve gone from “the sky is falling” v. Honduras in February to “things are looking good” in March.

    Defense, in general, is looking like a real strength for the team. With Beasley and Cameron able to play outside backs, we have some real depth across the line. I would say Beasley has played his way back onto the squad, and will be in consideration for starts at the LW position. EJ, Beasley, Shea, someone ought to step it up from that group and start scoring goals and take the starting spot. Beasley has shown he can defend the left flank, and he’d also have FabJo behind him.

    And, of course, if Mr. Donovan comes back…

    • I think the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction. The sky is certainly not falling anymore, but the makeup of the team is still very unclear. The CB pairing is still far from settled. Gonzo has the inside track at this point, but the job is still up for grabs. Same goes for basically the entire attack. Can Jozy turn his club form into national team goals? if not he might be replaced. How will the return of Landon Donovan alter our formation/approach? Will anyone make a statement for more PT in the Gold Cup? there are countless more questions left to be answered. The only thing that is almost certain is the base of our midfield will be Bradley and Jones and Tim Howard will be in the net.

      • I think the spine of the team is being settled. The goalies & outside backs are strong, and at CB we now have any combination of Gonzalez with Goodson, Besler, and Cameron, all of which have shown well. I’d say those’re the 4, and they’ll only get stronger with more games together.

        Then, you’ve got MB90 & JJ, so we’re at a solid back 7 at this point.

        Next? Figuring out how to transition and score at the top over the next 7 games.

        I’d say the team picture is becoming clearer.

  34. Would love to see what Cameron could do in the holding/d-mid role, allowing Gonzales and Besler to pair at CB. I know Jones maybe a ‘lock’ with some, but he needs to show a consistently high level.

    • “he needs to show a consistently high level.” Smh. He’s a starting holding mid on a champions league team. Some times the things people say just baffle the ish out of me. No way Cameron is a better cdm than Jones. Not as good on ball, not as good a passer, worst vision, hence he’s a defender and a mls caliber cdm. Don’t get it twisted.

      And people jumping out of their seats for besler to start are just hilarious. Good player but better options are available and in time we will all se that. But seeing how long people called for Ream I wouldn’t be surprised if they never do.

      • because its their best position.
        …and if said player can’t win a starting spot then he is on the bench or off the roster. Simple stuff really

  35. If these were truly honest rankings (I kid, sorta), spots 1 and 2 would be vacant and Cameron would be #3. Beisler’s had one truly memorable match, but that was against an opponent that played into his strengths. Gonzalez was poor at best against Honduras. I’m interested to see how he does against a Jamaican side that is as big and as athletic as he is.

    Boca is clearly on the way down, no shame in that; it happens to all of us. I’m just glad he’s dropped soon enough to avoid becoming his cycle’s Agoos. The Hex and Gold Cup will give us clarity on who’s on top of the center back pile.

    • This is maybe the dumbest thing I’ve ever read. I get that you’re trying to make a point, but the fact is when you rank a list of available players, you don’t start at #3 no matter how depleted your options might be.

  36. Chad Marshall and Whitbread need to be on the ‘others to consider’ list before the guys you’ve listed. Marshall put in a lot of good shifts for the nats. Orozco as a LB – yes, but as a CB – no way.

    • Agreed! Zak Whitbread should be 8 or 9 on this list. Can definitely compete for a top 4 spot with Goodson, Besler, and Boca.

      • And RB isnt CB is it? And Orozco has always played LB for the Nats so what exactly is your point?

      • Orozco has never played LB for the USMNT..what is YOUR point? Might want to check your facts, man.

      • Are you confusing Orozco with Castillo? You must, because Orozco Fiscal isn’t a left back. Never has been. He’s been a centerback.

    • Marshall’s days with the USMNT are done, and what makes you think Whitbread is a realistic USMNT option? And say what you want about Orozco-Fiscal, but Klinsmann rates him, and not as a left back (which he doesn’t play anywhere).

      • I favor Whitbread because he’s starting for Leicester City, a team better and facing higher caliber competition than Racing Santander, Brondby, and Sporting KC. (I’ll say it’s a wash with LA Galaxy.)

  37. I’m optimistic with the recent performances, but the sample size is small. I’d like to see Omar, Besler and Goodson against some mid to high level Euro or South American competition. Another thing to factor in is the positive impact MB has on the back line when he plays deep…takes a lot heat off the CBs ands provides distribution.

    • Yep, if Hernandez was just a tiny bit sharper that night, I think the story would have been different. It wouldn’t have changed the fact that Omar and Besler had good games, but the hype would be subdued.

      • can’t argue with that, other things went our way too. historic point yes, and for a change plenty of good fortune was ours in Azteca, thank goodness

        Omar and Gonzo looked good together. having watched Gonzo for many years now with different partners, it’s with AJ he and the Galaxy are their best (was also tough with Berhalter).

        Besler has the chance because of his cerebral and technical approach to complement Gonzo and the entir team well. we’ll see

      • That’s a fair point but if you watch the game again one reason Hernandez was not a “bit sharper” was because he was very well chaperoned.

        Everyone on both sides was tired. Mexico just came back from 100 degree Honduras. So even though he did get free just for an instant a couple of times our guys did just enough of a job on him that he couldn’t take advantage.

    • Have to agree. We are all excited about how well the D fared in the last 2 matches, but calling anyone a “sure fire World Cup Starter” at this point is pretty daft. Gonzalez has put in a couple good performances, but I’m not ready to crown him yet. Same goes for Besler. They have the inside track at this point, but a poor performance or 2 from them and we would be back at square one. Any combination of the guys listed above could be our World Cup center backs.

  38. Perfect Ives, you are just a fan like everyone else. Mr Knee jerk. Besler plays two matches, Omar plays 2-3 and they are the answer. Just another fan man.

    • a bit harsh, but not too far off the mark… there have been plenty of standouts for a game or two with the USMNT that have fallen off over the years-let’s have thse young guys put in at least a half a dozen games before they’re “locks” for the World Cup.

      Klestjan scored a hat trick versus Sweden B team and he was the next big thing, Heath Pearce was once a “lock” at LB after a decent game, while Beasley was “done” after a a terrible Confed Cup, Spector was the RB of the future, Dolo was “old news”-guess who is still playing for the USMNT and who isn’t…players need to show consistent excellence before they’re anointed top of the depth chart titles…

      if OG gets through Germany and Belgium without completely losing the plot, then he’s closer to being a lock-same goes for Besler….

      • one correction: sacha klestjan was the never ‘the next big thing’. i think ea sports was the only one who thought that.

    • Gonzo has actually had two seasons of professional experience, Besler has two. They also managed to keep out the Mexicans, in Mexico for 90 minutes – something most of our fearless defenders of yore couldn’t do.

      While it’s too early to call them the next DeMerit and Gooch (what a pair in their prime), they deserve the attention. I actually favor trying them out again. Cameron is a decent CB, but the more time he gets at RB, the worst off he’ll be as a CB against quality opposition. The two positions require a different mentality, and we have seen Cameron turn off a couple times.

      Now is the time to build the chemistry between our two CBs for Brazil.

      • agreed. Sadly Cameron will not break into CB at Stoke with Huth/Shawcross there. So if he’s playing all that time at RB we might as well use him there too

      • Yep.

        You could argue that a lot of the blame was on Cameron’s shoulders in the Honduras game, not just Omar.

        I think that its obvious that Besler and Gonzalez communicate much better and hold up their line, which is essential to beating a dangerous attack.

      • no arguing about it, Cameron was much to blame, and don’t forget Howard in that mess. triple breakdown on that play

      • A few years ago around 2008-2009, Gooch and Demerit, were the pairing of choice and Chad Marshall, Goodson, Boca, Califf, Parkhurst, even JImmy Conrad were around and there was talk of moving Spector and Pearce into the middle.

        So it looked like the US had plenty of options going into the 2010 World Cup. Fast forward to 2010 and the pool had grown so thin due to inury and loss of form that BB felt the need to start Demerit, who was coming back from a serious eye injury and was not what he was, and Gooch, whose knee was not fully healed and it showed, in that World Cup.

        I would prefer that JK not be in that situation if the US make it to Brazil.

        We’re a year and a few months out and you can choose to ride the Gonzo – Besler pairing if you like. Frankly, the chemistry is already there. They can only get better and I would be perfectly happy if they were the centerback pairing in Brazil.

        Or you can be sensible and keep looking for good alternatives so the US does not have to start two recently-returned-from-injury veterans.

        These last two games were very good but everyone is getting way ahead of things. There is a long way to go and a lot of injuries and loss of form to plan to cover for.

    • Like Bob/Michael Bradley have been saying for years. Don’t get too high when you win or too low when you lose. As fans, we are still falling into this trap. Gonzalez and Besler looked fantastic against Mexico (Gonzo against CR as well). Lets not get too far ahead of ourselves though. We need to see more than a couple good national team performances before calling one or the other “sure fire starters” for next summer. Either of them could suffer a dip in form and be on the outside looking in just by the end of this summer…

      • To be fair to Ives we are kind of mincing words there. If Gonzalez continues his play at this level he will be starting, as Ives said. Just don’t like our tradition of crowning guys after a handful or good performances

    • Actually, I suppose you’re calling Klinsmann Mr. Knee Jerk since, you know, he’s the one who actually started Gonzalez in Honduras and Besler in Azteca. He clearly rates these guys, so having them high on a depth chart is far from “knee jerk”, whether you personally agree with the judgments of those players or not.

      Please do better next time. Otherwise don’t bother commenting.

      • Ives, Ronaldinho’s comment was totally balanced, lighten up man. You are the one who defends Jozy even when he doesnt produce for the nats.

      • Shane, I wasn’t responding to Ronaldinho. I was responding to Euroman’s initial comment, but way to throw a random jab for the heck of it. Maybe you should read more carefully.

      • How bout the high road Ives. After all this is a site for discussion. Remember what they say, “never let them se you sweat.”

        I do love your site and visit it a couple of times a day to check out news. Thanks

      • Sure, discussion is fine, but when people’s comments are based on things Ives didn’t actually say, I can get why he gets frustrated. He didn’t call anyone a sure fire starter, he said Gonzales “looks like a sure fire starter,” which is nothing more than a comment on his current form and relative rank in the positional pool. Right now, Gonzales certainly looks like a sure fire starter, because he’s playing the position as as well or better than anyone else in the pool. That’s not, in any way, Ives saying that he’s a lock, which is how some are trying to frame his statements.

      • What does “high road” even mean?

        If you write something dumb or stupid then you should be prepared to stand behind it..

      • you’ve never heard of ‘taking the high road’? as in, don’t lower yourself to the level of those you’re dealing with?

    • Right, and I’m worried about global warming, but we’re talking about centerbacks right now. I think the first five players on the list are basically right where they should be at the moment. Remember when Chad Marshall was going to be “the next big thing”?

  39. What’s going on with Tim Ream? Starter in the premier league for Bolton but can’t get a game in the championship…

      • The acclaim was similar and they are similar players, but Besler showed up in an international game in a way Ream never did.

      • Having to deal with clowns like Rafa Marquez and Hans Backe didn’t help his development either although he hasn’t done much at Bolton.

      • Ream got props b/c of his calm on the ball and distribution. But he was never an impressive defender–that was part of his game he needed to grow. Besler OTOH is an excellent defender.

      • Random question and serious blast from tha past, what happened to Chad Marshall? Is he no good with Columbus?

      • I’ll answer as best I understand. he had a series of injuries/concussions that was serious. Always a good player, plays with heart, tough in the air, smart

      • He had a bit of a down year last year. He’s been excellent this yr. But he’s one concussion away from retirement.

      • Completely different. Besler has proven himself over a season and is a different kind of CB. Ives and other critics were putting Ream on the shoulders of other CBs because of his percieved technical ability which was very high. Unfortunately, those critics didn’t look at his defending and even in his first season, he was found out. Lucky for him, he got enough national team appearances for someone to take a gamble on his. Unlucky for him, he was a fish out of water in the PL. He should have given himself another season to learn the physical side of defense.

        I think Ream’s biggest roadblock is his menality. From reviews, it seems he has loss confidence, which is understandable. Others say he should be a DM. I see him similar to Kitchen: Technically solid, good positioning, just not a CB.

      • That’s all fair, but Kitchen is far more mobile has quicker feet (a huge asset to succeed in midfield). Ream still has time to develop professionally, but certainly needs to move from Bolton. If he figures out how to deal with the physical aspect of the game he’ll be fine. Besler, while certainly a classy player with the ball, is not a softy.

      • Not completely different. Rather the same, actually: new guy arrives, does a bit right, everybody talks like he’s the answer or a done deal, then before you know it, nobody’s even talking about him anymore. Tired of this cycle.

      • Ream never did anything onm the Nats after numerous runouts as the anointed one

        Besler got called due to injury in the cauldron of Azteca and showed up big time

        if you can’t see the difference then I can see why you’re tired, but it’s different

      • Ream hailed as next big/sure thing.
        Besler hailed as next big/sure thing.
        Agudelo hailed as next big/sure thing.
        Lichaj hailed as next big/sure thing.
        Chandler hailed as next big/sure thing

        There have been more. The pattern is hard to miss. Again we’re constantly looking for savior-type players to come in and sort of be magic pill answers to whatever the problem or situation is.

      • Placing Agudelo, Chandler, & Lichaj in the same boat as Ream/Besler is a bit harsh and not really fair.
        Chandler Plays in a top 5 league and has played well with his club. He had 1 bad NT game and everyone has given up on him. He’s still under 24 and has time to continue to develop.
        Lichaj played well in the last GC…has had some good games for AV (more bad than good) and is still under 25. He has the ability…just needs to be more consistent.
        Agudelo is 20 and has had some success with the NT if not his club. If/When he gets consistent he’s arguably a top 10 prospect @ striker for the US.
        Ream/Besler are 25+ and have a skill set needed (Distribution) but need some time to learn the international game.

      • I think you’re helping support my point.

        I’m not putting any of these players in the same boat in terms of their abilities or performances or the leagues they play in or any of that. I’m saying they’re in the same boat in the way that everybody gets so pumped up about them early on and hypes them as if they’re sort of ready-made solutions to this or that positional question and then they just as quickly fade from the picture so that we can do it all again with whoever is the new flavor of the month.

      • I was always surprised at Ream’s quick ascendence into the USMNT. I always felt that Gonzalez was a better player, but Ream seemed to get the call ups.

      • That is not accurate. Ream was already getting call ups before Gonzo tried the brief “Landon loan” to Germany – where Jermaine Jones blew up his knee in practice.

      • I’m pretty sure you’re thinking of Timmy Chandler, seeing as Gonzalez was on trial at Nuremberg, not Schalke.

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