Feb 24, 2013, 2:00 PM EST
The top thee center backs in Major League Soccer are fairly predictable and fairly interchangeable in terms of Nos. 1, 2 or 3.
After that? It’s a lot tougher to cobble together a real ordering, with about 10-15 above-average MLS center backs who could probably fill any of the next seven spots on our Top Ten.
And what to do about tandems that work in perfect balance, forming a central duo that’s more than sum of its skillful parts? Chicago is the perfect example, with veteran Arne Friedrich supplying the veteran know-how while MLS 2012 Rookie of the Year Austin Berry holds the role of talented understudy.
Disclaimers aside, here’s how we see Major League Soccer’s Top 10 in center backs:
1. San Jose’s Victor Bernardez (pictured)
2. LA Galaxy’s Omar Gonzalez >
At 24 years old, the two-time MLS Cup winner is about to launch his fifth professional season. As he is now (apparently) the first choice U.S. center back, Gonzalez’s stock remains on the rise. He still has room to grow – and think about that for a second.
3. Sporting Kansas City’s Matt Besler >
Not blessed with Gonzalez’s size, the SKC man does it with expert positioning and outstanding technique, with just the right amount of applied tenacity. Like Gonzalez, he impressed U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann in the extended January national team camp.
4. New York Red Bulls’ Jamison Olave >
Staying healthy is the trick for Olave, who had five outstanding seasons at Real Salt Lake. With speed that belies his big frame, the Colombian defender cleaned up more messes than a lot of people might realize in his days at Rio Tinto.
5. Vancouver Whitecaps’ Jay DeMerit
6. FC Dallas’ George John
7. Sporting Kansas City’s Aurelien Collin
8. Colorado Rapids’ Jeff Parke >
In Seattle, Parke had the league’s best midfield protector in Osvaldo Alonso. No reason to think he can’t do the job in Philadelphia, but that seems worthy of pointing out, at least. Parke is certainly thrilled to be in Philly, near where he grew up.
9. Chicago Fire’s Arne Freidrich
10. New York Red Bulls’ Heath Pearce >
He’s a difficult one to slot, because he would probably be one of the league’s top left backs … except that Red Bulls manager Mike Petke is loaded at the spot and probably needs Pearce to play centrally.
Dec 13, 2013, 4:56 PM EST
His second trade in four months, the veteran midfielder is on his way back to Texas…for the other side. In the other direction goes a proven goalscorer coming off a season of struggle.
Dec 13, 2013, 4:15 PM EST
A move in the works for a few days is completed, but it’s just the first step in Toronto FC’s offseason master plan.
Dec 13, 2013, 3:27 PM EST
The Chelsea manager was amused at the links of Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney to London in January.
Dec 13, 2013, 1:55 PM EST
Can Arsenal break through City’s splendid home form?
Dec 13, 2013, 1:16 PM EST
The Dynamo will honor Brian Ching with several unique on-field features.
Dec 13, 2013, 12:57 PM EST
Mullins, Tshuma lead Maryland into a surprising Friday final four in Philadelphia.
Dec 13, 2013, 12:30 PM EST
Where to watch all the action ahead in a blockbuster weekend of PL match ups:
Dec 13, 2013, 12:01 PM EST
History says there are goals a-comin’ in Saturday’s match-up at St. James Park
Dec 13, 2013, 11:30 AM EST
“Average” play of midfielder more troubling during subpar start for Red Devils.
Dec 13, 2013, 11:08 AM EST
Sure there’s science behind the Brazuca, but what good is that without video of the ball shattering dinner plates and other housewares?
Dec 13, 2013, 10:35 AM EST
David Moyes reveals RVP will face yet another spell on the sidelines after aggravating a thigh injury:
Dec 13, 2013, 9:22 AM EST
Gunners aim to go eight-points clear by winning at the Etihad, Wenger plays it cool:
Dec 13, 2013, 8:52 AM EST
NBC News’ Ben Popken gets the lowdown on the new World Cup ball. Good news… a Jabulani, it is not:
Dec 12, 2013, 11:00 PM EST
Unless a player lifts his shirt over his head, you may never see Intel’s contribution to Barcelona’s uniforms.
Where They Stand: Europa League’s 32 knockout round teams (and their potential effect on UEFA’s coefficients)
Dec 12, 2013, 10:05 PM EST
Italy and Ukraine could see big boosts to their coefficients, with each federation placing four teams in Europa’s knockout rounds.
Dec 12, 2013, 9:04 PM EST
How close is PRP to blood doping? Close enough to get the Premier League’s attention.
Dec 12, 2013, 8:02 PM EST
The two-time Defender of the Year rejoins former Crew boss Sigi Schmid in Seattle.
Dec 12, 2013, 7:09 PM EST
The Dash join the Portland Thorns as MLS-backed teams in women’s league.
Dec 12, 2013, 6:17 PM EST
Recovery timeline could leave Portland winger passed over by Costa Rica.
Dec 12, 2013, 5:31 PM EST
Like other notable quality American outfielders (e.g. Clint Dempsey), Cameron is a late-developer who has really evolved.
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