Skip to content

Who is this year’s U.S. national team breakout player?

Jan 28, 2013, 7:30 AM EST

2012 MLS Cup - Los Angeles Galaxy Training Session Getty Images

At this time last year Geoff Cameron was a fringe figure around the U.S. national team. An intriguing figure, sure, but he was mile and miles from an elevated role in Jurgen Klinsmann’s designs.

Now look at the guy. He’s a presumptive starter for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers. (Those start in just a little over a week, you know.)

Most years will create a breakout player or two, and these surging men frequently launch that breakthrough in January in California during the year’s initial national team camp.

For 2012 it was Cameron foremost. Graham Zusi elevated his place, too, although not quite to the former Houston Dynamo defender’s level. Brek Shea was the guy back in 2011.

Here we are in 2013; the team traveled Sunday in Houston, where they meet Canada on Tuesday at BBVA Compass Stadium.

A good question to ask now as the U.S. gets set to line up for the first time this year: Who is this year’s Cameron or Zusi? Who is the USMNT breakout man for 2013? Some possibilities:

Omar Gonzalez is the obvious top candidate. Barring injury or something unforeseen, we can expect him to start Tuesday, probably alongside Matt Besler, who seems to be catching the coaches’ eyes.

Gonzalez clearly has all the physical elements in his game. What he must show Tuesday is the ability to organize, direct and lead. As I’ve said before, the need exists. The ability exists. It’s on Cameron now to run with this thing.

(MORE:  U.S. defense could have a relatively easy night ahead)

(MORE: Opportunity factor high in January for Gonzalez)

Or perhaps even Besler himself: The Sporting Kansas City man has been on a mostly steady rise since arriving into MLS in 2009, and he was a worthy Best IX last season. That put him in position to get into a national team camp, and reports say he has taken full advantage so far, looking slick and quick in Home Depot Center workouts. Trouble is, there are two other center backs in camp, so Klinsmann may want to look at someone else in this one.

Tony Beltran has a chance, if only because of Steve Cherundolo’s advancing age and the need to build more depth at the right back position.

Mix Diskerud seems to have an increasingly bright future, although he plays a position (central midfield) where the U.S. is already fairly deep. (And getting deeper thanks to Sacha Kljestan’s increasing contributions to the program, and with Stuart Holden perhaps re-inserting himself into the conversation.) Still, Diskerud is young (22), skillful and versatile.

(By the way, I am excluding Benny Feilhaber from this conversation because he has already “broken into”  the national team, as it were.)

Latest Posts
  1. Europa League last 16 draw: Everton head to Ukraine; Spanish, Italian clubs clash

    Feb 27, 2015, 10:00 AM EST

    The Toffees get a tricky test in Kiev, while Italy dominates the last 16 with five clubs.

  2. Jack Wilshere undergoes latest surgery, as Arsenal return is delayed

    Feb 27, 2015, 9:20 AM EST

    Wilshere AP

    Gunners midfielder goes under the knife once again.

  3. Report: Chelsea join Manchester United in chase for Nathaniel Clyne

    Feb 27, 2015, 7:37 AM EST

    Queens Park Rangers v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Will Clyne stay at Saints or move to one of the big boys?

  4. Toronto FC unveil new primary jersey for 2015 MLS season

    Feb 26, 2015, 11:37 PM EST

    Photo credit: MLSsoccer.com Photo credit: MLSsoccer.com

    It’s red — lots of red — and “All For One.” Do you dig it?

  5. Ahead of Capital One Cup final, Thibaut Courtois admits he’s never been in a PK shootout

    Feb 26, 2015, 11:10 PM EST

    Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea FC Getty Images

    Petr Cech has been in plenty of PK shootouts for Chelsea, but Courtois has never done it.

  6. CONCACAF Champions League: D.C. United battered by Alajualense, 5-2

    Feb 26, 2015, 10:32 PM EST

    Andrew Dykstra, D.C. United Andrew Dykstra, D.C. United

    *sigh* Another MLS team gets hammered in CCL, and we’re (probably) down to one last hope.

  7. Keller, Hejduk, Conrad headline 13 new eligibles for National Soccer HOF

    Feb 26, 2015, 8:15 PM EST

    Kasey Keller & Frankie Hejduk, USMNT Kasey Keller & Frankie Hejduk, USMNT

    It’s a who’s-who of USMNT, USWNT and MLS stars who are now eligible for the U.S. Soccer HOF.

  8. World War II bomb found, defused near Borussia Dortmund stadium

    Feb 26, 2015, 6:51 PM EST

    Signal Iduna Park, Borussia Dortmund Getty Images

    A 550-pound British bomb was found near Dortmund’s stadium on Thursday. That’s a little bit crazy.

  9. Chelsea signs five-year, $300-million Yokohama jersey sponsorship deal

    Feb 26, 2015, 6:13 PM EST

    Juan Cuadrado, Chelsea FC Juan Cuadrado, Chelsea FC

    Five years, $300 million — the going rate for prime real estate on a top PL team’s jersey.

  10. Europa League roundup: Tottenham, Liverpool out; Everton, La Liga sides advance

    Feb 26, 2015, 5:05 PM EST

    Romelu Lukaku, Everton FC Getty Images

    The Premier League’s nightmare week in European competition continued on Thursday.

  11. Besiktas 1-0 (1-1) Liverpool: Arslan makes, Lovren misses final PK as Reds go out of Europe

    Feb 26, 2015, 3:44 PM EST

    Atiba Hutchinson, Joe Allen AP

    It took kicks to settle the UEFA Europa League tie between Besiktas and Liverpool after both clubs won 1-0 home legs.

  12. Fiorentina ousts Tottenham from the Europa League with 2-0 win at the Stadio Artemio Franchi

    Feb 26, 2015, 2:59 PM EST

    FBL-EUR-C3-TOTTENHAM-FIORENTINA Getty Images

    The shots may’ve been even, but Spurs had 2/3 possession for much of the night.

  13. Scottish teen star gets in trouble for throwing muffins at McDonald’s

    Feb 26, 2015, 2:36 PM EST

    Hearts v Hibs - Scottish Championship Getty Images

    Cummings’ manager is backing him up, too, and the Scotland U-19 forward has 11 goals in 23 matches for Hibs this season.

  14. Strike season? Real Salt Lake owner calls free agency “go nowhere conversation”

    Feb 26, 2015, 1:46 PM EST

    Chivas USA v Real Salt Lake Getty Images

    If you believe the words from Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen on local radio last night, you probably want to prepare for a work stoppage in MLS.

  15. Serbian player threatened at gunpoint after missing late penalty

    Feb 26, 2015, 12:42 PM EST

    http://www.novosti.rs/ http://www.novosti.rs/

    It had to be a terrifying incident for the team, let alone the player.

  16. Pontius, DC United represent lone U.S. team left in CONCACAF Champions League

    Feb 26, 2015, 11:50 AM EST

    DC United v Real Salt Lake - 2013 U.S. Open Cup Final Getty Images

    Kickoff is at 8pm ET, with the return leg in DC on Wednesday.

  17. Southampton’s Koeman calls winter World Cup wrong, quips “Maybe I’ll be English manager”

    Feb 26, 2015, 11:05 AM EST

    Koeman AP

    Koeman, like many of us, thinks it’s a little wild to keep talking about 2022 in 2015.

  18. Cancer-battler Jonas Gutierrez set to return to Newcastle United side this weekend

    Feb 26, 2015, 10:16 AM EST

    chroniclelive.co.uk chroniclelive.co.uk

    Gone for now is the trademark ponytail due to the cancer battle, but Jonas’ spirit has been and will be a big boost for the Magpies.