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. Premier League Playback: Should Liverpool fire Brendan Rodgers?

    Nov 24, 2014, 5:30 PM EST

    Crystal Palace v Liverpool - Premier League Getty Images

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an in-depth look at the PL during Week 12.

  2. Aston Villa 1-1 Southampton: Nathaniel Clyne secures point for Saints

    Nov 24, 2014, 5:11 PM EST

    Aston Villa v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Aston Villa led at halftime but a Nathaniel Clyne strike ensured a point for Southampton at Villa Park.

  3. Adam Lallana says Liverpool are ‘fighting for their lives’

    Nov 24, 2014, 4:32 PM EST

    Crystal Palace v Liverpool - Premier League Getty Images

    Struggling in England, the Reds need a result midweek to remain in the Champions League.

  4. At the half: Agbonlahor gives Villa 1-0 lead over Saints

    Nov 24, 2014, 3:54 PM EST

    Aston Villa v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    It’s a rare halftime lead for Aston Villa as they look to shock Southampton.

  5. Schake’s Di Matteo plays down Chelsea reunion ahead of UEFA Champions League clash

    Nov 24, 2014, 3:00 PM EST

    Germany Soccer Champions League AP

    Schalke is three points back of Chelsea despite drawing 1-1 in the Stamford Bridge portion of group play.

  6. Tesho Akindele brings FC Dallas its first MLS Rookie of the Year award

    Nov 24, 2014, 2:23 PM EST

    Tesho Akindele AP

    The league announced Monday that Akindele edged Steve Birnbaum of DC United and Harry Shipp of the Chicago Fire for the honor.

  7. Watch live: Aston Villa vs. Southampton (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Nov 24, 2014, 2:05 PM EST

    BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 19: Jose Fonte (R) of Southampton tackles Gabriel Agbonlahor (L) of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Southampton at Villa Park on April 19, 2014 in Birmingham, England. Getty Images

    The second-placed Saints need a win to keep pace with a Chelsea team threatening to run away with the Premier League.

  8. Young American defender Will Packwood leaving Birmingham City on short-term loan

    Nov 24, 2014, 1:17 PM EST

    bcfc.com bcfc.com

    Packwood is a promising defender who can be a big part of the US U-23 picture and onward.

  9. Lukas Podolski is “not some clown” and sounds like a man ready to leave Arsenal

    Nov 24, 2014, 12:36 PM EST

    Arsenal Training Session Getty Images

    Seven of his eight appearances have been substitutions, all in the 76th minute or later.

  10. Yikes: Suspended Bradley Wright-Phillips, teammates, Petke “didn’t know rules” of card accumulation

    Nov 24, 2014, 11:35 AM EST

    Bradley Wright-Phillips AP

    No one told Wright-Phillips another yellow card would keep him out of an MLS Cup Playoff game. Pretty unsettling if you’re a Red Bulls fan.

  11. Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta “shocked” at loss to Manchester United, rues “lack of ruthlessness”

    Nov 24, 2014, 10:45 AM EST

    Arsenal v Manchester United - Premier League Getty Images

    Arteta felt they were dominating the game before an own goal from Kieran Gibbs changed the temperature and, at the risk of losing something in the language, doesn’t think highly of the Red Devils.

  12. England women set attendance record in loss at Wembley Stadium

    Nov 24, 2014, 9:46 AM EST

    England v Germany - Women's International Friendly Getty Images

    It wasn’t quite a number that rivaled top American matches, but women’s soccer in England can take an extra bow.

  13. Americans Abroad review: Boyd bags brace, Johannsson heads home (video)

    Nov 24, 2014, 9:09 AM EST

    Dutch Eredivisie - "AZ Alkmaar v Vitesse Arnhem" Getty Images

    A trio of American attackers scored goals and a bevy of defenders and netminders worked good shifts in the own end.

  14. FIFPro’s World XI five goalkeeper shortlist includes… Iker Casillas???

    Nov 24, 2014, 8:20 AM EST

    iker_casillas Getty Images

    Certainly keepers like David De Gea, Tim Howard, Wojciech Szczesny, Hugo Lloris and Salvatore Sirigu are scratching their heads.

  15. Premier League Preview: Aston Villa vs. Southampton

    Nov 24, 2014, 7:30 AM EST

    http://www.avfc.co.uk/ http://www.avfc.co.uk/

    Two teams on very different form meet on NBCSN to finish off the weekend’s Premier League action.

  16. La Liga and Serie A roundup: Valencia, Napoli falter in Champions League bids; Milan derby a stalemate

    Nov 23, 2014, 10:20 PM EST

    FBL-ESP-LIGA-LEVANTE-VALENCIA Getty Images

    Catch up on all of Sunday’s action and movement in La Liga and Serie A.

  17. Inside Look, MLS Cup Playoffs: How Revs, Galaxy built very different one-goal leads

    Nov 23, 2014, 8:15 PM EST

    Jermaine Jones AP

    The Revs and Galaxy may both hold one-goal advantages, but they’re very different leads built in very different ways.

  18. Video: Warnock delighted with “old fashioned cup tie” from Palace

    Nov 23, 2014, 7:45 PM EST

    Warnock Getty Images

    The Crystal Palace manager hailed his side’s “Neil Warnock performance” as they pull themselves out of the relegation zone.

  19. Recap: LA Galaxy grab 1-0 lead over Seattle Sounders in Western Conference Championship

    Nov 23, 2014, 7:14 PM EST

    Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy - Western Conference Final - Leg 1 Getty Images

    The Galaxy find themselves just 90 minutes from the third MLS Cup final in four years after a narrow victory over the Sounders.

  20. Halftime, MLS Cup Playoffs: LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders in 0-0 Western Conference Championship stalemate

    Nov 23, 2014, 6:05 PM EST

    Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy - Western Conference Final - Leg 1 Getty Images

    Zeroes on the scoresheet, but plenty of action in the first half. Sounders very patient, but Galaxy getting close.

Featured video

Week 12: PL Sunday recap