Skip to content

Major League Soccer positional Top Tens: CENTER BACKS

Feb 24, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT

San Jose Earthquakes v Seattle Sounders Getty Images

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.

(MORE: entire roster of ProSoccerTalk’s Major League Soccer previews and predictions)

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Chelsea mind games – Jose Mourinho: “It’s easier to manage Manchester United”

    Apr 18, 2015, 8:20 AM EDT

    Chelsea Press Conference Getty Images

    “The Special One” is fueling the fire ahead of Saturday’s massive clash vs. United.

  2. WATCH: Premier League live online via NBC Sports Live Extra – Week 33

    Apr 18, 2015, 7:30 AM EDT

    Live Extra

    Where and how to watch every single PL game live online or via the app during Week 33.

  3. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho supports Pellegrini in face of City’s struggles

    Apr 17, 2015, 10:10 PM EDT

    FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-CHELSEA FBL-ENG-PR-MAN CITY-CHELSEA

    Jose Mourinho provided his backing for fellow PL manager Manuel Pellegrini, who could be terminated as Manchester City’s manager at the year’s conclusion.

  4. Bayern Munich president Franz Beckenbauer thinks FCB is failing in Champions League run

    Apr 17, 2015, 8:01 PM EDT

    'Erdinger-Talk 2013' Getty Images

    Beckenbauer on Bayern’s year-end winning aspirations: “They are far away, far, far, far away to win the Champions League.”

  5. Joe Hart: Manchester City players have “let down” Manuel Pellegrini

    Apr 17, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT

    Arlo believes Hat's mistakes have been too much of late but expects him to bounce back. Getty Images

    Hart: “[Pellegrini] has got principles that we work to, that we train to and, like I say, we’ve let him down…”

  6. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s four-match suspension reduced

    Apr 17, 2015, 5:38 PM EDT

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint-Germain FC Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint-Germain FC

    PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic had his four-game ban reduced today.

  7. Premier League Preview: Everton vs. Burnley

    Apr 17, 2015, 4:50 PM EDT

    Everton Getty Images

    Preview of Everton-Burnley tomorrow morning: Can the Toffees extend their solid form?

  8. As exit to MLS looms, Steven Gerrard returns for Liverpool’s FA Cup effort

    Apr 17, 2015, 3:40 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

    Steven Gerrard will hope to exit Anfield with one last crown, an FA Cup trophy, and Aston Villa stands in the way.

  9. Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Manchester United

    Apr 17, 2015, 3:14 PM EDT

    Manchester United v Chelsea - Premier League Manchester United v Chelsea - Premier League

    Chelsea and United do battle at the Bridge on Saturday. Watch it live on NBC and online at 12:30 p.m .ET.

  10. Brek Shea’s USMNT return includes a personal, artistic touch

    Apr 17, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    Shea Getty Images

    The US left-back appears to have returned to the national team picture after a prolonged hiatus, and he’s brought with him a special flair.

  11. Wayne Rooney may play in midfield: How will Chelsea, Manchester United line up?

    Apr 17, 2015, 2:10 PM EDT

    How will the Blues and Red Devils line up on Saturday? Here’s a quick gander…

  12. VIDEO: Top 5 memorable matches – Chelsea vs. Manchester United

    Apr 17, 2015, 12:20 PM EDT

    FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-MAN UTD Getty Images

    As two giants of English soccer collide on Saturday, here’s a trip down memory lane at some scintillating past encounters.

  13. WATCH: NBC Sports’ Premier League TV schedule – Week 33

    Apr 17, 2015, 11:35 AM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every single PL game live during Week 33.

  14. Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks: Red-hot teams will keep rolling

    Apr 17, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT

    Fellaini AP

    Here’s how PST’s Lead Writer and Editor sees things panning out in Week 33.

  15. Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers warns Sterling, Ibe about shisha pipe, nitrous oxide incidents

    Apr 17, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-NEWCASTLE FBL-ENG-PR-LIVERPOOL-NEWCASTLE

    After alleged smoking of shisha pipe, inhaling nitrus oxide, Liverpool’s youngsters called into Rodgers’ office.

  16. MLS Week 7 preview: RSL vs. Whitecaps, Galaxy vs. Sporting KC in the wild West

    Apr 17, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Javier Morales, Real Salt Lake Javier Morales, Real Salt Lake

    The Western Conference is the place to be this weekend, as it so often will be this season. The East ain’t awful either.

  17. Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany could miss rest of the season

    Apr 17, 2015, 8:29 AM EDT

    Crystal Palace v Manchester City - Premier League Getty Images

    City’s skipper could miss the rest of the campaign with groin injury.

  18. Injury crisis for Manchester United as four key players to miss clash vs. Chelsea

    Apr 17, 2015, 7:35 AM EDT

    VanGaal Getty Images

    Red Devils will be without four regulars for their trip to Stamford Bridge this weekend.

Featured video

PST Extra: Previewing Chelsea-Man United