Feb 24, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT
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.
Aug 31, 2014, 1:37 AM EDT
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Aug 31, 2014, 12:53 AM EDT
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Aug 31, 2014, 12:20 AM EDT
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Aug 30, 2014, 11:11 PM EDT
Red Devils’ boss was happy with the opportunities his team generated at Turf Moor.
Aug 30, 2014, 10:51 PM EDT
A late goal from Robert Earnshaw snaps FCD’s unbeaten run.
Aug 30, 2014, 9:52 PM EDT
Igancio Piatti’s first two goals give the Impact their second win in three games.
Aug 30, 2014, 9:23 PM EDT
Three superb games are coming your way on Sunday. Here’s a look at what to expect from all three.
Aug 30, 2014, 9:01 PM EDT
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Aug 30, 2014, 8:46 PM EDT
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Aug 30, 2014, 8:17 PM EDT
HSV is close to landing the 19-year-old on a year-long loan.
Aug 30, 2014, 8:10 PM EDT
NBC Sports was on hand for a memorable day in Liverpool, when Chelsea were pressed to preserve the team’s early lead.
Aug 30, 2014, 7:28 PM EDT
A disappointing performance from the Reds saw the Revolution back into the East’s top five.
Aug 30, 2014, 6:39 PM EDT
Twenty-four goals across the day’s seven games made for a highlight-filled open to the Premier League’s weekend.
Aug 30, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT
Clint Dempsey’s second half goal pushed Seattle five clear at the top of the standings.
Aug 30, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT
Second half goal from Benedikt Höwedes gave Schalke a point at home.
Aug 30, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
The young Swans manager is hoping to get “to the 40-point barrier as fast as possible” after the hot start.
Aug 30, 2014, 3:35 PM EDT
Both managers react to a crazy second half at Goodison Park.
Aug 30, 2014, 2:57 PM EDT
All the action from a sensational Saturday of Premier League action.
Aug 30, 2014, 2:35 PM EDT
Real Madrid could be the deepest attacking side in the world right now, and they just may get deeper.
Aug 30, 2014, 2:25 PM EDT
One of the greatest games in Premier League history played out at Goodison. Relive it, here.
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