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. Pep Guardiola on Bayern’s stunning loss to Wolfsburg: ‘They were better at the right moments’

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:59 PM EST

    Germany Soccer Champions League AP

    Bayern Munich head man Pep Guardiola sees where his squad went wrong in its 4-1 defeat against Bundesliga opponent VfL Wolfsburg.

  2. Premier League Preview: Manchester United vs. Leceister City

    Jan 30, 2015, 9:08 PM EST

    Leicester City v Manchester United - Premier League Getty Images

    Preview of a previously eye-catching match, Manchester City v. Leicester City, tomorrow morning on NBCSN.

  3. Burnley adamant that striker Danny Ings isn’t headed to Liverpool

    Jan 30, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

    danny_ings

    Danny Ings looks poised to stay at Burnley due to a certain transfer rule that would block his departure to Liverpool.

  4. US international Joe Gyau has second surgery, could be out for rest of year

    Jan 30, 2015, 6:05 PM EST

    2012 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying - Day 3 Getty Images

    United States and Borussia Dortmund II’s Joe Gyau underwent another surgery on his torn meniscus, and he could be done for the season.

  5. With Cristiano Ronaldo suspended, Gareth Bale takes center stage against Real Sociedad

    Jan 30, 2015, 5:20 PM EST

    Real Madrid's Ronaldo celebrates a goal with team mate Bale against Galatasaray during their Champions League soccer match in Istanbul Reuters

    Real Madrid midfielder Gareth Bale will replace Cristiano Ronaldo as the current world’s best player will serve a two-match ban coming from last week’s tilt vs. Cordoba.

  6. Premier League Preview: Hull City vs. Newcastle United

    Jan 30, 2015, 4:35 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Preview of Hull City vs. Newcastle on NBSCN this Saturday morning.

  7. Juan Agudelo’s return an excellent occurrence for New England Revolution

    Jan 30, 2015, 3:45 PM EST

    Juan-Agudelo-New-England-Revolution-Getty-Images Getty Images

    Juan Agudelo is back with Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution, and amidst a few possible issues, there is no reason his addition cannot help guide Jay Heaps’ side to victorious ways in the East.

  8. Premier League transfer needs: What’s been done and what’s left to do by Monday?

    Jan 30, 2015, 3:07 PM EST

    ACF Fiorentina v SSC Napoli - Serie A Getty Images

    Let’s take a gander at how things may’ve changed since JPW checked the needs earlier this month.

  9. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 23

    Jan 30, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every PL game during Week 23, here.

  10. Saturday’s Chelsea-Manchester City match expected to break viewing records

    Jan 30, 2015, 1:48 PM EST

    Chelsea and Man City will square off early in the season. AP

    If my math’s right, and it probably isn’t, close to 10 percent of the world’s population will watch Manchester City visit Chelsea on Saturday.

  11. Asian Cup final preview: Can Australian hosts deny South Korea’s first title since 1960?

    Jan 30, 2015, 1:06 PM EST

    FBL-ASIA2015-AUS-KOR Getty Images

    The Socceroos have received a single goal from nine other players in a bid to become the first hosts to win the Asian Cup since Japan in 1992.

  12. Geoff Cameron predicts Super Bowl XLIX win for his New England Patriots

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:52 PM EST

    USA Training & Press Conference - 2014 FIFA World Cup Getty Images

    Cameron talks about his love for the Pats, growing up in Boston and more in his latest dispatch from England.

  13. VIDEO: PST Extra – Costa’s suspension, and how will Frank Lampard be received at Stamford Bridge?

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:22 PM EST

    Lampard Getty Images

    PST’s Joe Prince-Wright and Mike Prindiville sit down to talk Lampard vs. Chelsea in this week’s PST Extra, with a little Diego Costa suspension talk as well.

  14. Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Manchester City, Arsenal, Saints to win

    Jan 30, 2015, 12:02 PM EST

    Pablo Zabaleta Pablo Zabaleta

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor predicts the winners and losers in Week 23.

  15. Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Manchester City

    Jan 30, 2015, 11:40 AM EST

    Chelsea v Manchester City - Premier League Getty Images

    There are big ones, and there are bigger ones… and this one’s a doozy.

  16. Manchester United signs youngster from Scholes-, Giggs-owned semipro side

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:54 AM EST

    www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/ www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/

    There’s quite a bit of saccharine in this perfect PR story, but it’s a cool tale nonetheless.

  17. San Francisco 49ers brass announced as investors in Sacramento Republic

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:19 AM EST

    sacbee.com sacbee.com

    “We have more 49ers season ticket holders in Sacramento than we do in San Francisco,” the 49ers CEO said

  18. Man City’s Pellegrini hopes stamping ban will change “top player” Costa

    Jan 30, 2015, 9:33 AM EST

    FBL-ENG-PR-WEST HAM-MAN CITY Getty Images

    The Manchester City manager made the comments during the pre-Chelsea press conference on Friday.

Featured video

Chelsea v Man City: Lampard the hero?