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Klinsmann’s center back plan far from settled before send-off matches

May 26, 2014, 10:11 PM EDT

Harry Kane, Geoff Cameron AP

The presumed Matt Besler-Omar Gonzalez center back combination for the 2014 World Cup is far from certain.

The first part seems a lock, but’s Nick Firchau is reporting that Jurgen Klinsmann has been experimenting with plenty of defenders alongside Besler during the run-up to Tuesday’s friendly with Azerbaijan.

John Anthony Brooks, Geoff Cameron and Gonzalez are getting their looks with Besler, and versatile Stoke City defender Cameron may end up playing in the middle for the U.S. after all.


Perhaps the biggest move on Tuesday — and potentially later in Brazil — could be the insertion of Cameron into a center back position with Besler amid lingering injury concerns for Gonzalez, who battled lingering knee problems that limited his training when camp opened earlier this month.

“Geoff’s a smooth player, and he’s comfortable playing center back,” Howard said. “He’s always wanted to play center back, and so if that’ the case, hopefully he gets a chance.”

Besler’s been relatively consistent, while Gonzalez has had a bit of “feast or famine” to him (regardless of health). Many thought Klinsmann saw Cameron as an outside back, even a holding midfielder, but using the 28-year-old Potter with Besler would have a natural feel. But why did it take until now?

  1. mikeevergreen - May 26, 2014 at 10:53 PM

    If Omar’s knee comes along too slow, don’t be too surprised to see Goodson back in camp.

  2. ndnut - May 27, 2014 at 12:59 AM

    A weird theory was posted on r/ussoccer that JK knows that Omar’s knee will be slow, and that LD would get the call-up. It motivated LD and might work.

    FYI: I personally do not buy it., but found it interesting enough to point out.

  3. mknow406a - May 27, 2014 at 1:44 AM

    Why did what take so long? I can only assume you mean for ‘everybody not paying attention’ to finally figure out that when JK said from day 1 that Cameron was a CB, he meant it… The only time of late that Cameron has been used as a RB was against Ukraine when Evans was unavailable, Chandler was hurt and JK was evaluating Gooch. If you want to make a legit assessment of the RCB, you need a competent RB so that the CB can concentrate on their task at hand. Yet, some saw that for what they wanted it to be: JK FINALLY looking at Cameron as a RB. That was never the case…

  4. mrstev - May 27, 2014 at 3:19 AM

    It’s mind-boggling that JK is still “tinkering” with the back line and continues to try to play guys out of position (Cameron). This should have been sorted long ago, and probably with Goodson next to Besler. Forget Omar’s knee…he has too much of a tendency to fall asleep at the wheel. Also, Cameron should be the starting RB.

    • guerojose - May 27, 2014 at 9:18 AM

      Yeah, in PerfectWorld, where no one gets injured, and the coach has access to all of his international players for many months, so that he can play them together and “sort everything out”.

      Some minds are more easily boggled than others, I guess.

      • lyleoross - May 27, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        Or possibly that our back line options are all relatively weak, and JK is mixing and hoping that some combo will actually look decent. Our back has been bad for some time.

    • steves4 - May 27, 2014 at 11:37 AM

      Also, Cameron himself admits that his best position is centrally, not out right.

  5. eddie0710 - May 27, 2014 at 4:14 AM

    Cameron at CB is the best choice. The US doesn’t need him to play RB when chandler and yedlin are available. Johnson.. Besler.. Cameron.. Chandler.. Should be the backline

    • rafibomb10 - May 27, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      If only we had a true left back. Fabian Johnson is right footed. My preference would be to keep him on the right.

  6. scrummymustard - May 27, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    this guy isn’t lying… I did this and made $14 billion dollars yesterday alone.

    I only had to give them my social security #, bank account # and my first born to do it.

  7. midtec2005 - May 27, 2014 at 10:46 AM

    Between this and the inexplicable exclusion of LD, the U.S. better perform well in Brazil. If it were up to me, Klinnsmans job would be in jeopardy right now.

    • lyleoross - May 27, 2014 at 11:15 AM

      Really? Gee, and we could go back to the pack it in defense, and long ball play that so bored us to tears for the ten years before Klinsmann. There is no way that the U.S. performs well in Brazil, it’s the whole GOD bracket thing. And no JK’s job is not in jeopardy, I believe he just signed an extension. Probably because U.S. soccer realizes that the path JK is on is where all of soccer is going, and that he has brought some excitement to U.S. soccer, has widened the pool of credible U.S. players extensively, and may just possibly be the best thing to have happened to U.S. soccer ever.

      While U.S. soccer has always been well attended at the youth level, it has never delivered. After JK came in, both the numbers and style of play in youth soccer changed. There was a huge boost in total numbers, and more and more clubs and development leagues are redirecting towards technical play. We are finally getting it that hard nosed, long ball play will only take you so far, you need to play like the Brazilians to succeed. LD is a reflection of the old style – speed, muscle, and long ball play. He did good with it, but he couldn’t take it to the next step. That’s why CD is there. He is just as slow, and just as unmotivated as LD, but he understands what is needed to go the next step. That means he will nurture it in the young guys up front.

      • midtec2005 - May 27, 2014 at 11:24 AM

        I agree with you about what Klinnsman has done, there’s no need to even try to counter any of those points. But leaving LD off is massively stupid. If you think he only likes to play long ball then I don’t know what to tell you. All you need to do is watch him play with the Galaxy. Donovan has better vision and off the ball movement than anyone on this team. Then not having a settled back line is pretty poor as well, although I understand that Gonzales has made that job difficult because of his inconsistent play.

      • midtec2005 - May 27, 2014 at 11:56 AM

        I replied but it’s not showing up for some reason, so maybe I will have two replies soon…

        But basically, I agree with you about what JK has done, I’ve been thrilled. I wouldn’t even want to counter any of those points. But to say LD is a long ball player is ridiculous. Go watch him play… he has better vision and off-the-ball movement than anyone on this team. His quickness is just an added bonus. Quite frankly, leaving him off is incredibly stupid, easily the dumbest decision in USMNT history. And that’s not even considering the potential locker room problems it may cause. Then not having your back line sorted is also pretty undesirable, however Gonzales’ inconsistent play has made that a tough situation.

      • lyleoross - May 27, 2014 at 1:10 PM

        midtech2005, I agree, but it seems to me that while LD is not a long ball player, he relies on it in other players. His greatest successes seem to come from fast break play instead of highly technical play. If you’re a speed player, and rely on the breakaway, what happens when you lose a step?

        Technical play requires more than vision, it requires knowing how to play tactically with your team. To be part of that team. I’ve never been impressed with LD in terms of that anyway, and skipping out on your team during qualifying (and the issues LD had even before JK came on board) did not say team player.

        I hear a lot about LD’s vision, his speed, his positioning, and for a guy who gets all those compliments, he’s had a remarkably small impact on the game. Yes, I know, he’s got all them goals, but where and when? Guys at the top, lets say the top fifty or seventy-five strikers in the world, have a much larger impact on their teams than LD has had on our NT. When we’re so desperate for a superstar that we’ll elevate LD to that level, we’re a little too desperate. CD, while short lived, had more of an impact game to game. Michael Bradley is a substantially better player than LD in terms of team tactical play IMO.

        JK has a system and it has certain requirements. You can make a great argument that LD is still our best striker, but I’d be hard pressed to say that he’s the best fit for what JK is trying to achieve.

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