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U.S. national team in evolution; just look at the center backs

Mar 29, 2013, 4:10 PM EDT

Geoff Cameron

Jurgen Klinsmann was always going to be an instrument of change for the United States national team.

But to see the extent – perhaps more in personnel selection than in tactics, as we all suspected initially – it helps to take a step back. Only they can we truly gauge the scope of the roster Klinsmann-inspired churn.

In fact, if we can draw a tight circle around the center back position, the evolution is truly dizzying.

Consider for a moment what the United States depth chart looked like at center back about 14 months ago, around the time Klinsmann was settling into his first winter camp. That January (of 2012) Klinsmann was taking his first extended look at some of the younger players – including a couple of “discoveries” now forming the backbone of his team.

The center back depth chart of that time looked something like this:

  • 1. Carlos Bocanegra
  • 2. Oguchi Onyewu
  • 3. Clarence Goodson
  • 4. Michael Orozco Fiscal
  • 5. Tim Ream
  • 6. Jay DeMerit
  • 7. Michael Parkhurst

If we take a look at it now, the evolution over just 14 or so months turns that list into something unrecognizable.

Klinsmann says Carlos Bocanegra is not necessarily finished with the national team. But the former U.S. captain does turn 34 in May, and it would seem that only through injury would Klinsmann try to stuff ketchup back into the bottle on this one.

It may be conceivable that Onyewu could grind his way back into the mix – but it seems like a stretch. Given his limited playing time and even more limited passing ability, all parlayed with the coach’s disdain for center backs who feel most comfortable hoofing the ball forward, I wouldn’t wager a paycheck on it.

Tim Ream may as well be part of the witness protection program far as Klinsmann and his staff are concerned. And DeMerit, bless his heart, is out for a long, long time. It’s difficult to see a road back to the national team there.

Meanwhile, look where the center back depth chart has landed today. Three of the guys at the top weren’t even on the list 14 months ago.

With the caveat that this list is just a guess at what Klinsmann’s chart looks like, this will probably resemble the central defensive pecking order at next year’s World Cup. And how about them Brazilian apples?

  • 1. Omar Gonzalez
  • 2. Geoff Cameron (pictured above)
  • 3. Clarence Goodson
  • 4. Matt Besler
  • 5. Maurice Edu
  • 6. Carlos Bocanegra
  • 7. Michael Orozco Fiscal
  1. dws110 - Mar 29, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    Personally, Center Back Depth Chart 2.0 fills me with far more confidence than the old one ever did.

    • revansrevenant - Mar 29, 2013 at 6:48 PM

      Total agreement.

    • joeyt360 - Mar 30, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      Yeah, we were having a “generational crisis” at the position, where a bunch of older players should be giving way, but new ones weren’t necessarily stepping into their shoes. We will have to see with further games, but we may have dodged a bullet in that the gap between the older and newer generation occurred in 2012/2013 rather than 2013/2014.

      • schmutzdeck - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:24 AM

        This reminds me of the run up to the 2010 World Cup

        There is about a year and a few months to go before rosters are finalized, assuming the US makes it.

        At about roughly the same point in 2009 the US had Onyewu, Demerit, Ihemelu, Califf, Parkhurst, Chad Marshall, Jimmy Conrad, Goodson, and there was talk of moving Boca, Spector and Pearce inside. Everyone thought we had too many centerbacks.

        Fast forward to a year later at the start of the World Cup and, because of injuries and loss of form, Demerit, recently back from a serious eye injury and Gooch , not fully recovered from a bad knee injury, are the starters. Bradley seemed compelled to use those two who were not at their best and it showed, for the World Cup.

        My hope is that JK won’t have to undergo the same ordeal.

        This far out , that depth everyone is so happy with is an illusion, a mirage.

        If it’s still like this a day before rosters are to be set, then I’ll believe it. Until then I hope JK is continuing the search for depth and cover at all positions.

  2. pjbowmaster - Mar 29, 2013 at 11:32 PM

    I’ll third that. And I’ll also say that I like Goodson. But I really want to see more of Gonzo and Besler together.

  3. jdfsquared - Mar 30, 2013 at 1:10 AM

    Has anyone started a petition to make that crest the permanent crest?! It’s SO MUCH BETTER than the standard one!

    • btrocco - Mar 30, 2013 at 9:59 AM

      Completely agree!!! How can we make this happen?

      • joeyt360 - Mar 30, 2013 at 12:08 PM

        I would add one thing: a motto, like E Pluribus Unum or something.

      • wandmdave - Apr 1, 2013 at 2:33 PM

        I’d sign that in a heartbeat. I keep looking for petitions or announcements its been made permanent.

  4. seanb20124 - Mar 30, 2013 at 7:27 AM

    Onyewu has become invisible of late

  5. changofeo - Mar 30, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    Onyewho? Seriously, we can criticize his tactics but we can’t argue the fact that he’s brought in new, younger blood that will be the face of this team in the years to come. I’d say the future is bright.

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