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U.S. World Cup roster examination – Who is going to Brazil?: DEFENDERS

Oct 16, 2013, 4:10 PM EDT

Bruce Arena took eight defenders to World Cup 2006. Bob Bradley took just seven to South Africa four years later – although Ricardo Clark or Maurice Edu could both man a center back spot in a pinch.

Something interesting this year is that versatile men like Geoff Cameron and Fabian Johnson give U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann some similar latitude – although perhaps in reverse. Cameron plays right back for Stoke City, remember. Johnson spent most of his early appearances as an outside back, but has gradually drifted further forward.

He is better on the left, but who can also play right back (where he started in the World Cup clincher vs. Mexico). Either way, he’s on the charter.

Here we go:


(Estimated number of spots available: 7-8)

Start making plans, guys … you’re going to Brazil!: Fabian Johnson, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, DaMarcus Beasley.

Besler and Gonzalez are the central defensive pairing until further notice. Klinsmann says Cameron’s best spot is center back, and he did fine last week against Jamaica, even if it wasn’t the most worthy test.

source: Reuters

We will add Steve Cherundolo to the list as soon as he gets into a U.S. game again, maybe one of these November dates in Europe. Clearly, the right back spot remains an issue, which is why we’re still talking about a 34-year-old defender who has been a bit brittle recently, and who hasn’t been in a U.S. match in months.

Left back remains an issue as well, although Beasley has shown he can handle it adequately.

Clarence Goodson is very close to this list “Going to Brazil” list, proving time and again that he can be trusted when called upon. The problem for San Jose’s newly established central force is that John Brooks, the talented young German-American who was so solid in his recent debut, may have more upside. Brooks may get the opportunity over the coming months to lap the veteran Goodson.

If Goodson / Brooks take a spot, and if Cherundolo remains in the mix, then there may be just one little, itty bitty spot between Edgar Castillo, Brad Evans and Michael Parkhurst. All have had their moments, especially Castillo lately. But all have deficiencies, either in one-on-one defending (Castillo) or in ability to get up the flank consistently to impact the game (Evans and Parkhurst).

Where does that put Michael Orozco, scorer of a couple of pretty huge goals? Well, injuries do happen, but he appears to be behind four or perhaps even five center backs at the moment.

You might notice that Timothy Chandler’s name has disappeared from the conversation. It’s just a hunch, but I get the feeling that Klinsmann has finally moved on, just not convinced that this guy – who has lost his starting spot with FC Nürnberg is serious about having an international career.

On the bubble: Clarence Goodson, John Brooks, Steve Cherundolo, Brad Evans, Michael Parkhurst, Michael Orozco, Edgar Castillo

Still in the conversation … but just barely: Tony Beltran, Justin Morrow

(MORE: Where the goalkeepers of the U.S. player pool stand) 

(MORE: Where the goalkeepers of the U.S. player pool stand) 

(MORE: Where the midfielders in the U.S. player pool stand)

  1. danielofthedale - Oct 16, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    Any chance for a someone like Chirs Klute or Yeldin makes an 11th charge at RB spot? I think they both higher ceilings than say Brad Evens but the bust potential is probably greater too.

    • medic0nduty - Oct 16, 2013 at 6:14 PM

      At this rate I’d say it’s only a matter of time before Yedlin or Farrell gets a go at the RB spot. That battle is going to be a good one to watch over the coming years.

    • ameritoon - Oct 16, 2013 at 7:07 PM

      I believe Klinsmann said none of the current youth players have a real chance of getting into the senior team right now, so I doubt Yedlin does. But I would like to see Klute given a chance, maybe he can make an impression in the January camp.

    • talgrath - Oct 16, 2013 at 7:48 PM

      Unlikely to happen, Klinsmann seems to want to see them get a little more experience before putting them on the world stage like that. I would definitely expect to see them make appearances for the USMNT before the 2018.

  2. braxtonrob - Oct 16, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    I desperately hope Jay DeMerit gets healthy (and consideration) sometime early next year, because he is my idea of what a great American defender should play like!

    • danielofthedale - Oct 16, 2013 at 7:48 PM

      Jay was a great servant for the US but his days with the national team are done. His pace was always and issue and now he just does not have the legs to cover top class forwards. He is just not as good as Besler, Gonzalez, Cameron, Brooks, Goodson, or Orozco.

      • braxtonrob - Oct 16, 2013 at 10:22 PM

        I agree he’s not fast, but he is an enforcing tenacious defender.

        Do you think how he positions himself (as an INSIDE back, mind you) is as good as anyone else we’ve got?

    • midtec2005 - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:16 AM

      Jay is a warrior, I’d love to see him get a chance to show what he has. Tenacious is the perfect word for him.

      • bear06 - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:05 AM

        He’s done with the U.S. MNT.

    • bear06 - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:06 AM

      What is up with some people wanting old, slow and way out of their prime players back with the national team? You people need to seriously move on.

      • braxtonrob - Oct 17, 2013 at 3:25 AM

        Tim Howard and Nick Rimando are both (as old,) technically older than DeMerit, so I assume you’re saying you’d start Guzan?

        Also, is 34 really THAT old, and does intelligence and style of play count for nothing??

        We’re not sending a team to the Olympics, this is the World Cup; I’m thinking youth isn’t everything. Or are we about to have to learn that adolescent lesson the hard way?!?

    • bear06 - Oct 18, 2013 at 2:35 AM

      Ummm GK’s can still play at their best when they’re in their mid 30’s unlike defenders.

      • braxtonrob - Oct 18, 2013 at 3:43 AM

        I’ll let England know that you’re ready to cut Frank Lampard (35) and Steven Gerrard (33), since age apparently accounts for 50% of a player’s ability.

    • bear06 - Oct 19, 2013 at 2:42 AM

      Lampard and Gerrard are quality midfielders who have shown that they still have a few years left in the tank. You really don’t know what you’re talking about.

  3. talgrath - Oct 16, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    Castillo would definitely be high on my list after that game in Jamaica, he’s exactly what you want in a left back; good in defense, quick and able to get forward to launch a counter attack.

    • bear06 - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:08 AM

      I wouldn’t say he’s good on defense but he is good at attacking and taking players on.

  4. hildezero - Oct 16, 2013 at 7:54 PM


    No. Orozco is not better than DeMerit.

    • bear06 - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:10 AM

      Yes, he is.

  5. Randy Meeker - Oct 16, 2013 at 8:08 PM

    Chandler hasn’t lost his starting job at Nürnberg. He has started in the past 4 Bundesliga matches and 5 of the last 6. Granted, his team hasn’t been great defensively in the past couple of matches, but he’s definitely still the starting RB for them. It will be interesting to see how well he does under their next manager, as soon as they name one.

    • bear06 - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:09 AM

      Hopefully he gets called up next month.

  6. g3td0wnrootchakra - Oct 16, 2013 at 9:03 PM

    No mention of Eric Lichaj anywhere? I don’t understand how Klinnsman can keep avoiding him, when he’s starting and playing well in the Premier League. Much better than any other option at RB unless Chandler starts playing w/ the U.S. again

    • danielofthedale - Oct 16, 2013 at 9:08 PM

      What EPL team is Erch Lichaj starting for?

    • bear06 - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:11 AM

      Championship players aren’t automatic call ups to the national team anymore.

  7. braxtonrob - Oct 16, 2013 at 10:27 PM

    Also (beside DeMerit), I like Jonathan Bornstein.
    I realize I’m gonna catch a lot of heat for that choice, so … go ahead, tell me again (specific detriments) why he is a poor choice?

    • danielofthedale - Oct 16, 2013 at 11:20 PM

      Bornstein has played in nine games the last three years, at least according to his wiki page so that might not be totally accurate. As for why he is a bad choice to play for the US, he is an awful crosser of the ball and he constently gets caught out of position and give up bad fouls in bad spots. He is half the player Edgar Castillo is and that might be very generous to Bornstein.

    • bear06 - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:12 AM

      I rather have a traffic cone over Bornstein who can’t even make the bench for Tigres anymore.

  8. bear06 - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:18 AM

    Ummm Chandler hasn’t lost his starting spot for Nuremberg. He has started in the last 4 Bundesliga games and has done pretty well. He should definitely be in the bubble because when he’s on form he’s the best natural RB in the U.S. pool.

    Also Klinsmann hasn’t moved on from Timothy, he’s just making him step his game up.

    “Chandler is still there”

  9. hildezero - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    XD Na, he’s not and you know it. Don’t lie.

    • bear06 - Oct 18, 2013 at 2:38 AM

      He’s not what? You’re like a little troll.

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