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United States national team depth chart: First choice center backs are clear

Jun 23, 2013, 8:04 PM EDT

Matt Besler

Five U.S. matches over the last month has generated significant movement on the U.S. depth chart – perhaps more shuffling than in any month-long stretch in Jurgen Klinsmann’s time in charge, which is now approaching two years.

Over the next few days we’ll continue to examine the U.S. depth chart, making our best educated guesses at how things stack up on Jurgen Klinsmann’s big board inside the manager’s Home Depot Center offices.


There’s not muddle in this middle. Not at the top, at least.

Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler have emerged as the clear, top choice men in the middle of Jurgen Klinsmann’s back line.

There are still some debates to be had here – and who doesn’t love them some depth chart debate? Especially when debates signals … they are going to Brazil! (Go ahead and Rosetta Stone yourself into Portuguese fluency, because this thing is going to happen.)

One back line debate is not quite as obvious as the other. I’m proposing that Besler may have lapped Gonzalez as Klinsmann’s No. 1 go-to in the ordering. The Sporting Kansas City man isn’t as physically blessed as Gonzalez, but his instincts, positioning and technique are frequently picture perfect. Not bad for a man barely in the U.S. picture at this time last year.

We’ll keep Gonzalez at the top for the time being. Not that it really matters who is 1 and who is 1A’; two center backs are required, after all. Still … debate … fun, and all that.

Perhaps there is something of a muddle past the first two or three, but not much of one. It seems logical that Geoff Cameron would make a return into the middle if Besler (pictured) or Gonzalez were to become injured. Then again, where Cameron plays at Stoke City this year (right back, left back, holding mid, right mid … there really is quite a menu to choose from with the big fellow these days) could have something to say about it.

Clarence Goodson has been a third-choice man for some time now, or somewhere thereabouts, and that’s probably where the veteran will land for Brazil 2014. It’s not an awful place to be.

The interesting names are further down this list. Maurice Edu can and has performed along the back line. But there’s a hitch here: presumably Klinsmann would want him playing first-team soccer at an acceptable level for that to be a viable option, and Edu needs to sort out his situation at Stoke this summer.

Michael Orozco keeps hanging around, keeping a chip in the big game. And after that … wait, what is this, 2008 all over again?

Carlos Bocanegra could be an option under certain parameters (which we talked about in the look at U.S. left backs). And Onweyu will almost surely get a CONCACAF Gold Cup call-up, so this is his chance to climb the ladder anew, although he needs to find a club where far more playing time is an actual option.

U.S. CENTER BACK ordering

  • 1. Omar Gonzalez
  • 2. Matt Besler
  • 3. Geoff Cameron
  • 4. Clarence Goodson
  • 5. Maurice Edu
  • 6. Michael Orozco Fiscal
  • 7. Carlos Bocanegra
  • 8. Oguchi Onyewu

In review:

U.S. goalkeepers

U.S. right backs

U.S. left backs

Coming up tomorrow: Holding midfielders and linking midfielders


  1. John D. Halloran - Jun 23, 2013 at 9:26 PM

    It’s hard to criticize someone who always answers the call for their country, but Clarence Goodson has no business ever being called up again. His performances have always been, at best, average, but over the past year they have gotten even worse. I’m all for loyalty, but how many chances is it going to take before Klinsmann sees that Goodson absolutely cannot get it done at the international level?

    • Steve Davis - Jun 23, 2013 at 9:46 PM

      I hear ya … but there IS something to be said for guys who answer the call, don’t make waves when they don’t start, etc. At some point, you are trying to assemble a “Team.” So, the math does sometimes get tricky that way.

  2. midtec2005 - Jun 24, 2013 at 1:11 AM

    Steve, I remember one of the announcers (Ian Darke I think) saying that Besler was the fastest player on the roster? Do you know if there’s any truth to that?

    He kind of reminds me of an old school USMNT player, in a good way. Not flashy but he gets the job done.

    • wfjackson3 - Jun 27, 2013 at 8:02 AM

      There are regular debates between Besler and Kei Kamara about who is the fastest player for SKC, so it wouldn’t really surprise me for him to be one of the fastest on the USMNT.

  3. bigdinla - Jun 24, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    Besler’s speed is why I like him paired with the bigger Omar. He really does an awesome job covering.

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