USMNT Daily Update: Should Klinsmann stick with Gonzalez or turn to Cameron?

CameronGonzalez (ISIPhotos.com)

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By IVES GALARCEP

When Jamaica takes the field on Friday night against the U.S. Men’s National Team you can bet that their attack will look to go after one player.

That player is Omar Gonzalez.

Sure, they could also try and test relative U.S. newcomer Brad Evans, but if the ‘Reggae Boyz’ watched the U.S. team’s two most recent friendlies it is tough to picture them not trying to test the LA Galaxy centerback every chance they get.

That would only be natural after Gonzalez struggled both against Belgium and Germany, but the natural question then becomes why would Jurgen Klinsmann stick with Gonzalez?

Klinsmann has stated repeatedly that he wants his defense to gain a rhythm and familiarity, particularly in central defense. Gonzalez has started all six USMNT matches in 2013, with very mixed results. He has enjoyed truly dominant performances, like he did against Mexico and Costa Rica in March qualifiers, but he has also had his share of forgettable outings as well, and his two most recent efforts left plenty to be desired.

You can see why Klinsmann wants to groom Gonzalez. His dominant in the air and he can be the perfect complement to the more technical Matt Besler or Geoff Cameron. That said, he has been making mistakes far too frequently in 2013, for club and country, which has raised questions about whether Klinsmann would be taking a risk starting Gonzalez against Jamaica.

So should Klinsmann take that risk and stick with Gonzalez, or should he turn to Cameron to start alongside Matt Besler?

As much as it might seem like a gamble, the fact is Klinsmann set up a pair of tough challenges in Belgium and Germany to test his team and prepare them for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against lesser opponents. Gonzalez struggled, but part of the point of those tests was to push him and challenge him.

That Gonzalez struggled doesn’t change the fact that his past two World Cup qualifiers were strong efforts. Gonzalez knows he has to do better, but he also knows he has the confidence of his coach, who is giving him a long leash.

Just how long? If Gonzalez struggles against Jamaica there is a very good chance Klinsmann will have to consider a change, and that possibility could be why he went into the most recent camp eager to have Cameron to return to training as a centerback rather than as a right back.

Right now Cameron’s biggest knock is the fact he has a limited number of games played at centerback. In fact, he has played the position just once in this calendar year, during the U.S. team’s 2-1 World Cup qualifying loss to Honduras in February. He never played centerback at Stoke City and his three other USMNT matches this year have all been at right back.

Gonzalez has been playing centerback all year, has plenty of matches under his belt both in MLS play and international play, and while he has made his mistakes, he has a solid partner in Besler to help cover his weaknesses.

Jamaica could also offer Gonzalez a favorable match-up if Portland Timbers striker Ryan Johnson starts for the ‘Reggae Boyz’. Johnson is a physical forward who Gonzalez is well-equipped to handle and that reality might even force Jamaica to consider starting speedy Vancouver Whitecaps striker Darren Mattocks as a change-of-pace option.

Whoever starts for Jamaica at forward will likely be someone Gonzalez has experience dealing with, which should give him some confidence, especially playing behind the pairing of Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones, who are well-equipped to shut down the passing lanes for Jamaica’s midfield. If they can succeed at smothering the middle of the field, and Jamaica is forced to work wide and pump long balls to their forwards, that will very much play into Gonzalez’s strengths.

Could Klinsmann consider playing Gonzalez and Cameron together as he did vs. Honduras? That is possible, but it is tough to envision Matt Besler not getting the nod. He offers a complete tandem when paired with Gonzalez than Cameron does. Besler is a more natural centerback who reads the game better at the position and is quicker.

Clarence Goodson is another player who shouldn’t be ruled out altogether. He started for the U.S. in Kingston last September, and while he still feels like he’s the fourth option among the four centerbacks, he does have experience and could slide in if things get out of hand on Friday.

It will be up to Gonzalez (and Besler) to make sure that doesn’t happen. Gonzalez had two friendlies to work out the kinks, and test himself against some top-level competition, but now the matches mean much more and any mistakes he makes in the coming three weeks won’t just be written off as part of the learning process.

If Gonzalez seizes the moment and rattles off three great games, he will take a major step toward solidifying his place as a regular starting USMNT centerback with a year to go before the World Cup. If he struggles, he could lose his starting place and there is no guarantee he will get it back.

——–

Which centerback tandem would you start if you were Jurgen Klinsmann? Cast your vote here:

  • Besler-Gonzalez
  • Besler-Cameron
  • Gonzalez-Cameron
  • Goodson- Gonzalez
  • Goodson-Besler
  • Goodson-Cameron

 

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110 Responses to USMNT Daily Update: Should Klinsmann stick with Gonzalez or turn to Cameron?

  1. bryan says:

    i really can’t wait for this game. i think we see how Omar and Besler do. i hope they excel. should be an intense game.

    • YesItsNate says:

      It’s going to be exciting for sure. Seeing the same back four as last weekend will be exciting as they’ve now how well over a week of training and that key friendly together.

      If you would of told 2010 yesitsnate that in the middle of the 2013 Hex that Evans and Beasley would be the respective right and left backs, I would be losing my mind.

      But in the immortal words of Herm Edwards “HELLO! That’s why you play the games!”

      • bryan says:

        lol no joke

      • bottlcaps says:

        A lot of people don’t realize that Gonzales has been paired with AJ De La Garza for over 6 years. (2 with the University of Maryland and 4-1/2 with the Galaxy)

        Having been paired so long with the same center back you almost automatically assume the other player plays a certain way, covers a certain way and passes a certain way. Stick in another player and there is a period of adjustment. You need to communicate more and assume less. If Gonzales has had problems, it most likely the result of assuming his fellow defenders will cover players a certain way.

        That is why Besiler was (is) a good choice. They were able to play and train together early in the season at the Natz training camp enough to get a good sync going. When you shut out Mexico and beat Germany you must be doing something right.

        Yeah Gonzo has made some mistakes, but no more than the other centerbacks. The mistakes stand out more if you are a centerback because the mistake ends up as a shot on goal or a goal. Against Belgium Gonzo was left naked when the Belgium’s got around the cornerbacks and exposed the back. When that occurs you need to make a decision fast. Unfortunately for Gonzo, he guessed wrong and was scored upon.

        On the last German goal, there was blame on Gonzo, but it was Howard who punched the ball to a German player that allowed them to score.

        IMHO the best pairing at centerback right now is Besiler and Gonzo. Besiler plays similar to De La Garza, he is quick and positions good. He may be not as fast as De La Garza but his larger physical presence pay better dividends

    • Goalscorer24 says:

      I can’t wait either, but I am not going to see it thanks to it being shown on a Chanel I don’t get!

    • Sam says:

      Then Cameron at right back and Beasley at left back

  2. Josh says:

    We need to stick with Gonzalez. He has played a about 9 games for USMNT no reason to quit on him now. Klinnsman needs to make a call on CB pairings, whether its Gonzalez and Cameron or Gonzalez and Besler, and let they play together. Make a pick and trust it to grow. Even in the article lets not forget that the 2 best Gonzalez games are ones that mattered and were not friendlies.

    • YesItsNate says:

      +1

      The only way he is going to become consistent and get to the level we would like to see Gonzo at with the nats (especially in building key chemistry with Besler) is to continue to stick with the pairing through the Summer. It will pay off next summer in every way including making it to Brazil if Klinsy shows confidence and consistency in his CBs

      • OPMG says:

        Yep, Gonzo has made some mistakes but the goal has to be prepping him for Brazil with the idea that with enough experience he’s a better option than Cameron at that time. If tomorrow was the WC, yeah, I think I’d want Cameron. Jamaica should challenge Gonzo without overwhelming him, and I think that’s what we want while he figures this international competition stuff out.

    • TomG says:

      Normally I’d agree. Consistency should help, certainly, but I worry that these mistakes are just Omar being Omar. He’s had a tendency with LAG to make one or two howlers per match and be locked in the rest of the contest. That seems to be pretty much the way he is with MNT.

      That being said, for the physicality of this match and all the reasons mentioned above, this particular match seems well suited to OG’s skill set. I’d also be curious to see a BeesCam pairing b/c their superior speed might offset the Reggae Boyz athleticism to some extent. This is a tough call.

      • CJinOC says:

        Interesting point. I actually don’t get to watch much of the LAG (for various reasons unfortunately), but you make it sound like it’s a consistent lack of ability to stay focused the whole game. His mistakes in those qualifiers did seem like mental lapses, lending credence to that assertion. I hope he fixes that b/c otherwise, I like his skill-set.

    • Barack Obama says:

      ‘games that mattered.’

      Yeah, he did such a great job in Honduras, huh?

  3. Josh D says:

    You stick with Gonzo in my mind. As much as Klinsi sees Cameron as a CB, the fact is at CB his positioning is poor. He just doesn’t understand how to play the position at the top level. Unfortunately, he’s been moved so many times he hasn’t specialized in any and has weaknesses in all.

    Gonzo has poor moments, but he’s a monster in the air and he’ll grow. Usually, a player will go through these motions at the club level. But going from MLS to international is too big of a leap to compensate for everything (concentration, positioning, speed, anticipation, etc). So he’s learning the ropes by playing for the US.

    We also want to help him get a good transfer so he can properly prepare for Brazil.

    • Drew says:

      I disagree… Gonzo had one good game and that was in Mexico. Cameron has EPL (top level) experience and look a lot better against Belgium than Gonz. Gonz gives up on plays and pretty much gave up an own goal.

      I’m personally am in the group that says Gonz/Besler and Cameron at RB… Go with a Ricardo Clark on Gonz… If he messes up big time, shift Cam over to CB and put Evans at RB and Gonzo comes out

    • Jason B says:

      When has Cameron not understood how to play cb at the international level?

    • Al says:

      Here is the perfect example of a FIFA 13 Soccer Fan…UNBELIEVABLE!! He just sat there and said Cameron is a poor CB lmao…

  4. say dude says:

    Cameron/Besler no doubt

  5. SanFran415 says:

    Tough call.

    We can’t see how they perform in practice or where their minds are–definitely trust the coaching staff to figure out which is more ready at the time. It’s tough because there is no sign or fair-warning in practice that a player will have a mental breakdown in a game and they’ve both had lapses recently.

    I think the answer might lie in how the coaches plan on utilizing them long term as to which player is worth the risk at the moment. Gonzalez is young in center back years and essentially a youth player on the international stage. He has a lot of catching up to do. Is he in the long term plans provided he can cut down on mental miscues? If so, play him.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      hey, we agree! even if it’s on the fact that it really just comes down to who the coaches think is better for this match. whoever they pick–if the CB plays well, klinsmann looks good. if they play poorly, klinsmann looks bad.

      i think cameron’s in a hard place because he’s got the talent, just not the recent experience at CB that gonzalez has. and if we were playing against a more finesse-based attack, i could still see cameron starting over gonzalez.

      i wonder if this might push cameron to seek a move to a place where he’ll get time at CB. i think it’s clear that, for now, he’s pretty far back on the RB depth chart.

  6. Cool Hand Luke says:

    Cameron and Besler. CONCACAF away games are all about minimizing mistakes, if nothing else.

    If Klinsmann sticks with Gonzalez and it doesn’t go well, then all ire should be directed at the coach.

    • SanFran415 says:

      Possibly, but Cameron has not been Mr. Consistent recently either. He’s had a run of quite poor form.

      Sometimes it’s really just a player’s fault. Nothing a coach can do about a keeper letting in a howler or a striker missing a wide open net or a starter blowing an assignment.

      • Cool Hand Luke says:

        But we know CB is Cameron’s favored position, as well as the one he’s been practicing at all camp.

  7. Old School says:

    Right now: Cameron
    The future: Gonzalez

    Gonzalez, at times, doesn’t appear to have the pace or ability to think quickly at the international speed. There’s a lot to like about this game, don’t get me wrong, but he’s often appeared as the weakest link on the CB line, no matter his partner.

    IF…we’re committing to him permanently, I think he and Besler need to remain a tandem, each game they’re both available. Hopefully with more chemistry and a general feel/understanding with Besler, Gonzalez will find his comfort zone and be able to come into his own.

    Until then? It’s been Mike Seaver-style Growing Pains each match with him in there. Five plays that remind you why he’s called and one play that reminds you why he still needs to improve.

    For my money, I prefer Cameron because I favor his distribution, athleticism and I think he is more confident at this stage in his career.

    Either way, Besler needs to be the partner. End.of.story.

    • GW says:

      Right now Cameron’s confidence looks shot.

      If Gonzo sits then put Goodson next to Besler.

      He fits better with Besler than Cameron does.

      • Old School says:

        “Right now Cameron’s confidence looks shot.”

        I would agree….at RB (which he should never be playing for the Nats).

        At CB, he’s looked like an entirely different player. In fact, his distribution from the backline, as opposed to on the sideline, improves dramatically.

        He’s athletic, big and can defend…so slotting him at RB may seem logical but it’s simply not a good fit. He’s a CB or destroyer in the midfield.

        • GW says:

          Whatever the choice is, it should be one of Gonzo, Cameron or Goodson with Besler.

          I have hopes for Besler ultimately replacing Boca as the de-facto sweeper. He is a more athletic, faster, version of Parkhurst. Unfortunately his semi-Reamish showing against Germany showed he still has much to learn.

          Still the kid has to play because,short of a miracle revival by Boca, and that may happen who knows, Besler is going to Brazil if they make it.

    • Wispy says:

      First Kindergarten Cop and now Growing Pains? Pop Culture Reference Day today, huh?

    • Bird says:

      So he has played against mexico in Mexico, against Belgium, Germany, at Honduras and Costa Rica in the snow, Chile, Brazil and Canada. Those are all extremely difficult matches, outside of the Canada match. 7/8 of those are against world class opposition or in difficult environments, in Honduras etc. And 5/8 he has been paired with someone different. Gonzo has made a couple of mistakes, but he hasn’t looked out of place or completely overwhelmed in any of the matches. I don’t see where everyone is making an issue out of this. To me he is well on his way to developing and getting the experience required to play in a World Cup and he has all the tools to be a great player. Look at that list of caps again and keep everything in perspective people. Does anyone here think Boca, Goodson, Cameron or any other CB would not have made any mistakes and looked great against those same opponents? Now think about how much older and more seasoned all those other players are and compare that to Gonzo. Does it all make sense why he is starting now?

  8. YesItsNate says:

    No.

    He’s in the prelim roster for the Gold Cup and will surely be Capt. on that squad. He’s working hard to try and make the A squad for the fall qualifiers. It remains to be seen if he will be on good enough form for Klinsy to recall him.

  9. Shane says:

    We will need Omar’s aerial defending against Jamaica, Besler can hopefully clean up any mistakes he makes on the ground. Plus we can have Cameron at right back.

    • Eurosnob says:

      Jamaica is more known for its speed rather than its aerial ability. They made Mexico look slow at Azteca. If the USMNT sits back and defends trying to catch Jamaica on a counter, Gonzo is a good fit. But if they try to play an attacking game with a high defensive line, Cameron is a better choice as he is faster and a better passer than Gonzo.

      • Gary Page says:

        What Jamaica did was to bring the ball down the flanks and then hit crosses, unless they thought they could fast break. They thought they could overpower Mexico in the air. Gonzalez is dominant in the air, so if we play them they may not try it. However, I think his dominance in the air is important so that we should keep him in and rely on Jones and Bradley to clog the middle.

        • Eurosnob says:

          Your strategy makes sense if we sit back and defend. But if the USMNT adopts the attacking approach and plays the high defensive line, Gonzo’s dominance in the air will be of no help if Jamaican strikers pr midfielders leave him in the dust on the counter.

  10. dude says:

    Gonzalez for one more game. If he proves he’s ready now, then it’s great for the backline. If not, Cameron.

    We don’t need to a different back four every game, that’s the wrong way to do it.

  11. Mig says:

    I don’t know, it’s a tough call.

    But IF Klinsman’s scheduling two friendlies immediately before 3 qualifiers was actually to ‘challenge’ players or whatever he called it, then clearly Omar failed. I’m a fan of Gonzalez so this ain’t hatin on him but most agree he didn’t play very well.

    However, if JK was trying to develop continuity (which is hard to credit given the number of pairings he has used), then it doesn’t matter as much that OG was pretty sketchy for two games because they were intended by JK as practice.

    The truth is probably in between somewhere and with JK making full (nearly unparalleled) use of coach-speak, we really won’t ever know what he intended. (this isn’t JK criticism but instead criticism of the soft questions asked of him by the journos)

    • GW says:

      JK’s use of coach speak is fairly minimal. For the most part every decision he has made is consistent with what he has said.

      Where the upset seems to come is when people extrapolate from what he says and jump to conclusions in the absence of any facts. In other words no one really believed him when he said Evans was a good player.

      He ‘s not that hard to figure out once you realize he doesn’t worry about what anyone thinks, he believes in what he is doing and he likes to take a risk every once in a while.

      • Mig says:

        Actually, I disagree with you in part. When you say “every decision…consistent with what he said” I would respond with “any decision would be consistent….”

        I used “coach-speak” but maybe I should have been more precise and said “meaningless clichés”. Again, I criticize JK all the time but not for this…he just says silly, imprecise things like any coach and the press gives him a pa$$. I am generalizing a bit but not too much, I think.

        cheers!

        • GW says:

          You’re right .

          What I should have said is if you read over his interviews very carefully, and I have done, you will find that what he usually says is wide and long in scope and short and narrow in specifics. And he always reserves the right to resort to qualfiers and that is a given in sports. .

          Given that,you won’t catch him in a contradiction.

          I think part of that is the langauge barrier and part of that is the press are still so used to BB who at times made Belichik look expansive, informative and engaging.

  12. mikeandike says:

    Omar’s strength does not work well with the overall team strategy… when US plays a bunker, counter-attacknig style, the mids are packed in and force the opponent to go to wings and cross it in-this is where a tall, strong centerback helps to clear the ball and boot it upfield (think Gooch vs Spain in 2009)…

    BUT, Klinsmann wants to play on the ground, which cause a problem in that Gonzo is not a very skilled paaser so not adding much value there and furthermore, playing on the ground adds to the potentinal of midfield turnvers 9seen plenty with U.S.) and opponent coming back at you through the middle, this is where Gonzo physical and mental speed leave him exposed… Besler and Cameron are stong enough in the air without Gonzo and abit faster-though they have made mistakes of their own as well- not one on this backline is ashoo-in for 2014 right now, which is very scary…paging Gooch and Boca….

  13. papabear says:

    There’s been far too much shuffling around back there. Stick with this pairing for now. If it doesn’t start clicking a change will have to be made, but now is not the time. Cameron’s own mistakes are at least partially to blame for him not already being one of the first choice CB’s. He had some mistakes at RB too that seem to have cost him the chance to establish himself there. Either way there needs to be some continuity.Klinsman needs to pick his back four and stick with it for the time being. It’s almost Mid-way through the HEX. Klinsman has had plenty of time to see all the candidates. It would be one thing to make the occasional change based on a tactical decision related to a specific opponent. It’s another for Klinsman to still be what appears to be experimenting with different combinations. I know injuries or just plain not having a player available have forced his hand, but I still would like to be in a position where there weren’t quite so many unknowns position wise.

    Also, I’m a huge Cameron fan, but ever since injuries forced him to CB for the Dynamo I’ve been disappointed that he hasn’t been able to stay at that position. The Dynamo, partially out of necessity, tried to mov him back into the midfield. Injuries also kept him off the field for a while too. When he moved to Stoke I hoped he would get to play CB exclusively. Instead, he hasn’t played the position at Stoke hardly at all. Cameron’s versatility is his biggest weakness right now. It’s odd to think how little playing time Cameron has gotten at what is IMO his best position since being named to MLS Best XI in 2009 as a CB. I’ve said for a long time that Cameron could be a very good midfielder or outside back, but he could be a great Centerback…if he could just focus on playing there.

  14. the original jb says:

    I think at this point you stick with Gonzales. We finally have a chance to trot out the same starting 11, and coming off a mostly impressive (team) performance as well. You give Gonzales his “learning curve” moments from the friendlies and give him another chance in the game that matters. If he struggles again or gives up a bad goal that costs us, then maybe that’s the time to start Cameron next match.

  15. Vic says:

    Klinnsmann should go with Besler/Cameron. Gonzalez has made too many mistakes and the upcoming games are too important to risk. Let Gonzalez get another chance in a friendly.

  16. Bean says:

    I actually like Klinsmann, but I cannot make any sense of what he’s saying a lot of the time.

  17. APK says:

    Probably, but you’re not the player the U.S. really needs right now: a maestro in the middle, one who can orchestrate, dictate, set the tempo, the rhythm, slow things down when they need slowin’ and composure under pressure. The U.S. has this, sometimes, in Donovan. But Reyna, for my money, was the man when it came to this kind of player.

    • MN Footie says:

      +1 on Reyna.

      But let’s not sell Dempsey short, or say we don’t need him. Our creative needs in the middle of the field shouldn’t have anything to do with the plusses or minuses of Clint Dempsey.

      • apk says:

        Sure, but teams aren’t built around players like Dempsey… I wonder where Jose Torres has been. Sure’d be nice to get him onto the pitch. We might see glimmers of the beautiful game.

  18. Bean says:

    I’m not sure how Gonzo has surpassed Cameron at CB, besides the fact that Gonzo is playing CB at the club level. It’s interesting to note that Klinsmann stated that Cameron needs to steal Huth’s position at Stoke before he’ll get a shot at CB. Cameron has been a solid RB for Stoke, but then Klinnsman contradicts himself, and puts an untested midfielder at RB into the line-up.

  19. Turd Bradley says:

    dont sub in brad davis he is worthless now

  20. Travis says:

    Barring any major mistakes you need to go with Gonzalez, make a decision and stick to it. Give a set CB partnership a chance to develop instead of constantly changing it. I’m not sold on Gonzalez but I think that constantly shuffling isn’t the answer either. Plus I am not sure what people see in Cameron to make them think he is a big upgrade, he doesn’t play CB at the club level and seems to lose his mark fairly often defensively.

  21. rainORshine says:

    beasley——————————-fabian
    ———besler–goodson–cameron——-

    in a 4-4-2 id go with goodson

  22. David says:

    I don’t know that Jamaica will go after Omar, but they should certainly try to go at Brad Evans. He doesn’t have the speed to match up with dribblers like McLeary. Once he gets beaten, then Omar or Besler will get drawn out of the middle to cover. That’s where the defense will get stretched. Beasley on the other side might have to play safer and stay back, letting Fabian Johnson do much more of the attacking. I’m actually hoping we can press the Jamaican backs when they have the ball to make errors, because they aren’t the best skilled back line in the hex by some distance. Altidore, Dempsey, Zusi, and Johnson should be able to force errors, maybe not like the OG in the Germany game, but enough to create turnovers in the attacking end of the field.

    • beachbum says:

      we see much the same things David; can’t get over run on the flanks, best to keep higher pressure to not allow buildup play through the middle

      • Gary Page says:

        I don’t see Jamaica as being particularly skilled at buildup play through the middle. That’s more Mexico’s style while Jamaica seems like they rely more on quick strikes.

  23. w says:

    no more MLS players in WC qualifying matches.

    Just sayin

    • Travis says:

      So who do you want to play at CB then? Cameron/Goodson? Shoot me now

      • w says:

        Play Cherundolo with Cameron.

        but no more MLS.

        Besler, Gonzalez, John need to be in EUROPE

        • Travis says:

          what? cherundolo at CB? are you off your rocker?

        • Brett Bates says:

          MLS haters.. Jamaica and Honduras both beat us in Qualifying and they are loaded with MLS players. It comes down to talent, coaching, and development.. not if they play in La Liga or EPL.

    • MN Footie says:

      Once upon a time, I would agree with you. But I think that’s changed. Looking at the quality of the available players – who would your backline be, if we can’t use MLS players? Cut Besler and Gonzalez out of the picture. So we’re saying, what, Johnson – Cameron – Goodson – Beasley? I dunno. I, for one, like Besler back there (and I’m not ready to get rid of Gonzalez, either).

      Anyways, my point is that there are alot of MLS guys out there now who can play, and fill roles on the national team, and do well. I would prefer to have a national team of players who ply their trade in the Premier League, and Bundesliga, and La Liga, but we don’t have those players – and to the extent that we do, the guys in question have shown that they aren’t as reliable as some of the MLS guys. Danny Williams over Matt Besler? No thanks.

      • rainORshine says:

        in a 4-4-2 our 2 best CBs right now are bocanegra and goodson

        obviously boca not available, but that is just poor roster selection

        • Travis says:

          How do you figure this? Boca has barely played this year and at least half the time I see Goodson play for the USMNT he doesn’t look that great at all. In fact he was quite bad in the Belgium friendly I believe it was. Stop the irrational hate of all things MLS related.

          • rainORshine says:

            bocanegra has been starting every week – 10 games since the end of march. i think he is better than besler at this point.

            gonzalez has proven to be pretty unreliable thus far. i think goodson is a safer bet at this point.

            this is irrational hatred of all things MLS?

            • Travis says:

              at some point you need to give youth a chance, if you think besler is anywhere near Boca at this point (which I think he is) you go with youth in hopes that it develops. sticking with the old guard for to long can hurt unless you have no other options. i like goodson ok but i dont see him as much better than gonzalez at all, they both seem to shut off randomly at times

    • Gary Page says:

      About half of the Honduras team and several from Costa Rica and Panama are in MLS. Do you mean them, too? Did you consider that our MLS players thus have the benefit of knowing how they play? Generally, however , I think European based players are going to be better.

  24. Brad says:

    I see a lot of parallels with how Klinsi is bring Omar through despite the growing pains, just like he did Per Mertesacker for World Cup 2006. Very inexperienced (Per was 21 or 22 with only a few seasons with the full side) during the build up to the tournament. Took some early lumps but eventually became a very crucial part of the backline that only let in one or two goals all tournament.

    • beachbum says:

      Ives, your breakdown of the challenge was spot on imo

      the concern is with closing down the flanks and applying high pressure in this game in this matchup, whoever gets the call; create turnovers up the field and convert those opportunities into quality chances while not allowing build up play from the midfield. At least that’s my take, and there’s no substitute for developing cohesion in the back line from the GK thru the DMs, that trust and understanding between the players that comes with experience in playing together

      • beachbum says:

        sorry Brad, didn’t mean to post this in reply to your post

        that said, you make some good points man

  25. chris thebassplayer says:

    I think it will be Omar in the middle with Besler for this game…although I would prefer to have a Besler/Cameron combo long term. If JK intends to play Fab at LM, we’ll need somebody stout at LB. Of course with JK, it’s best to expect the unexpected.Cameron? Maybe he gets real crazy and flops Evans to LB and Cameron to RB…or he could really fool us by simply having Fab start at LB. I can’t wait to see how it shakes out….as long as it doesn’t involve Beas or Castillo at LB.

  26. Creige says:

    What ever happened to Cameron/Edu as the centerback pairing? They were developing some chemistry. It’s clear we need options at this position.

    • Gary Page says:

      Edu has really disappeared and yet he started just about every game in Turkey except when he was suspended. Wonder why he doesn’t get any more Klinsmann love?

      • Nate Dollars says:

        he’s been coming off an injury, hasn’t he?

        that said, it doesn’t seem that he really figures into klinsmann’s plans. was maybe more of a stopgap.

    • Old School says:

      How many games did they play together (Edu/Cameron)?

    • Johnny says:

      I’m not a fan of Edu in the midfield but I feel he could do well at CB.

  27. fischy says:

    Probably the same. Santos wanted him gone.

  28. Tim S. says:

    What a difference 9 months makes! I could not believe the differences in the line-up we used in Jamaica less than a year ago. The entire back line will be different (it was Parkhurst, Goodson, Cameron, and F. Johnson last time) and only Howard, Altidore, and J. Jones will be playing the same position (Dempsey was playing behind both Altidore AND Gomez last times, and Fabian was at left back). I know it will not be easy, but I am liking the US chances of FINALLY getting 3 points at “The Office” with this group, especially after the Germany match.

  29. bizzy says:

    If you can stop Podolski, Bender, Draxler, a goal seeking Klose, a hungry Kruse you’ve made a point, stopping an attack that unlocked Ecuador’s defense early is battle tested enough…….Evans, Gonzalez, Besler, Beasley should be our back line going into the Hex….Cameron is playing at a higher level but the best players don’t always make the best team……

  30. biff says:

    I think Omar Gonzalez us being unfairly accused of being the prime culprit in the 2nd-half comeback by Germany. I just looked at the goals again on the highlights….

    link to soccerbyives.net

    The first goal was a headshot by big and powerful Heiko Westermann on a corner kick. It does appear that Gonzales was responsible for Westermann, but stuff happens on corner kicks and there were others in the box.

    The second goal (5:30) from Max Kruse is interesting. In the lead-up, Kruse breaks away from MB, who does not follow him, and takes a pass and Gonzalez goes over to defend Kruse near the touchline. Kruse passes and a few seconds later the man MB is guarding passes to Kruse and instead of going after Kruse MB just sort of stands there as Kruse cuts in and Gonza coming from the touchline tries to help but no go. There is no way in heck that Gonza is (solely) responsible for Germany’s 2nd goal. MB does not look good on that play either.

    As for Germany’s third goal (6:29) Brad Evans and Tim Howard are responsible for this one. A cross sent over to Sidney Sam and Castillo is sticking on him like a fullback should. Sam gets the shot off and Howard is positioned perfectly, but is unable to hold the shot and the ball squirt lose and oncoming Draxler runs past a relaxing Evans and puts the ball in the net. And you can see that Evans realized too late that he should have been defending against Draxler. Taylor Twellman after the goal said that was ball-watching, but does not mention Evans by name. A case could also be made here that MB could have done more on the third goal also. He seems very lackadaisical when the ball is crossed over to Sam, could have moved over more quickly to help out Castillo.

    So Gonzalez was possibly responsible for Goal 1, but not Goals 2 and 3.

    • Ives Galarcep says:

      Who ever said he played a part in the third goal? He was clearly beaten on the first and played a key part in the second. To say Gonzalez couldn’t do more on the second goal is a stretch.

      You’re being way too hard on Bradley in these assessments, as well as Tim Howard, who was screened on the third goal by Besler. Generally if a defender is screening the keeper that way, chances are they should block the shot, but in that case Besler turned to protect himself on the shot, and wound up missing the ball because of it. Howard reacts late because he sees it late, again, because he was screened.

      • biff says:

        First, just want to note that in no way am I implying that you specifically are being too harsh on Gonzo, but rather just in general that he is taking a lot of heat for defensive lapses when the blame, I think, could be spread around a bit more. I think these sorts of thoughtful articles are great.

        I agree that Tim Howard was quick to react on the last goal and that it took great skill to make the initial stop. But we have seen him in the past hold on to shots like those. As for Evans, he was ball-watching and should have been marking Draxler.

        But all that said, it was hot, late in the game, Klinsmann is not subbing the guys out in a friendly like Germany was doing and they are tired, especially our two defensive midfielders. And unlike the German defenders, many of whom I still contend are C-Teamers who we will not see again for a long time if ever, the German attackers, such as Draxler and Kruse, are very good players who we will definitely see on future Germany rosters. So three goals is not so bad if looked at in that context. We have seen Germany score a lot more goals than that in the past. Plus, in the end, we won.

        • GW says:

          The media coverage of the Germany game centered on Gonzo’s mistakes since they were so obvious.

          But, ironically you are the first person I’ve read to say Gonzo was responsible for Germany’s comeback.

          If MB, Howard and Evans, also make mistakes does that somehow mean Gonzo played better than he did ? Cliche warning, two wrongs don’t make a right.

          That is not how it works. Germany was always likely to come back and some unlucky US player was always going to make a mistake. But good teams realize that and pick up each other up and get on with it.

          If some other centerback had been there and had covered Westemann adequately, who’s to say the Germans would not have found another way? I was there. The Germans came back as a team and took over the game, then the US took it back, as a team, and it went back and forth. Fortunately it ended before Germany could score again. It was that kind of game.

          It’s not whether Gonzo made mistakes, you expect that, it’s whether his overall play justifies playing in the next game.

          I’m fine with MB, Evans and Howard playing against Jamaica.
          I’m not fine with Gonzo playing against Jamaica. I think Gonzo overall is laboring and a little lost and could use a break. I’d replace him with Goodson but I’m sure JK has it all worked out.

        • chris_thebassplayer says:

          Omar’s marking on the first goal alone should be enough to bench him. He loses his mark on a simple check to ball and curl back move…a very fundamental move…he’s standing right next to his man when it begins. I hope he improves, but at some point you either are able to maintain focus or you can’t…and if you can’t, you shouldn’t be playing CB at the international level. It’s a brutal unforgiving position. You either have it or you don’t. I hope he can clean it up, but I have my doubts. I agree with GW, it will be Besler and whomever makes less bonehead/phase out plays.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      “It does appear that Gonzales was responsible for Westermann, but stuff happens on corner kicks and there were others in the box.”

      think it would be different if it was anyone but gonzalez, but aerial defending is basically the only reason gonzalez is starting for this team. if he can’t do that, we might as well start someone else.

  31. zztoppppp says:

    I’m so glad that the question is finally “who do you pair with Matt Besler?” and not “Who do you pair with Geoff Cameron?”

    I personally would prefer to see Besler and Cameron in central defense, but if I could only take one it would be Besler.

  32. BumpBailey says:

    A little off topic but……
    HELP!!!!! I am going to be in the air during the US V Honduras game on the 18th for the first leg of a flight across the country. Is there anyway to download the game to my IPad so i can watch it during the second leg of my flight????

    Any advise would be greatly apprectiated. GO TEAM USA!!!!

    • beto says:

      reschedule the flight or dvr it for after the flight… unless you can get espn or espn3 on your flight…

  33. Joe A. says:

    For right now… I’ll tolerate Gonzalez starting. I can’t see him holding that position much longer though.

    • Joe A. says:

      Cameron can always be subbed in if gonzalez is still shaky.

    • Joe A. says:

      One last thought. It’d probably be good for his confidence to start instead of being sent immediately to the bench.

  34. Bac says:

    Just a thought, but did you ever notice how dominant Pique was when Puyol was healthy, yet has been kinda scitzo the last 2 years… I mean is Gonzo gonna become “that guy”… where hes gotta have the perfect partner….or else…
    Before 2 weeks ago most people on here (most-not all), and in the press, had him as the ONLY sure starter in the back line… and he’s had some dominant performances before the last 2 showings
    I still think you gotta go with him

    • GW says:

      Pique, was the mobile,athletic, aggressive one of the pair Gooch or Jay D if you will.

      Puyol was the brains of the pair, master of technical foul and the odd dirty,play great at reading the game and sweeping up. Boca if you will.

      This is the typical template for the modern CB pair one more brains the other more brawn. The US’ problem is we lost Gooch, Boca and Jay Demerit pretty much all at once.

      • biff says:

        No, we did not lose Boca. Klinsmann quit calling him in. A strong argument could be made that keeping Boca and his leadership and experience on the roster would be extremely beneficial in helping to develop younger CB rather than simply tossing them in the deep end.

        • GW says:

          And an equally strong argument can be made that if the mentor is not carrying his weight anymore the student will not learn much if he is constantly having to cover for or pay for his mentor’s mistakes.

          I love Boca but the Ranger’s demise clearly affected his form and he wasn’t cutting it anymore.

  35. Mike R says:

    Cameron has most upside, Gonzales is too slow plus he sucks

  36. Beto says:

    Great analysis and Certainly a tough call; personally i think Cameron matches up better with Johnson, Mattocks, Daily, etc. but i think Omar (on his good day) can handle it..

  37. Jason B says:

    I can just see the Jamaicans breaking through with OG chasing. Omar’s biggest strength is his aerial ability, but that doesn’t make up for his just average passing, positioning and one on one defending. Cameron is just as good in the air, faster, more athletic, better positioned.,, the list goes on. Plus he has those sweet arm tattoos that helps him identify with JJ. But seriously, Cameron is a better player than Omar Gonzales. Yes, even at CB! Start him with Besler or the US will pay. Please listen to me coach k!

  38. Eric says:

    Arent you aiding and abeiting the enemy here? Bradley Manning 2.0! You are giving the Jamaicans info detrimental to our national defence!

  39. Felix says:

    I think the reactionary fan reaction is to bench Gonzalez in favor of Cameron – but I’d wait off.
    I agree that Gonzalez is making a lot of mental mistakes, and the same one keeps arising – how he shuts off and doesn’t follow the play or his marker all the way through. However, he’s still young in his international career, and we have to give him an opportunity to grow as a player, within reason.
    I would say if he has another one or two of these mental errors in tonight’s match, you will have to bench him in favor of Cameron, despite Gonzalez’s upside.
    When the competition is ramping up at the CB position, you have to be on top of your game, or someone else capable will step in – that’s how it should be at the professional level.

  40. DC Josh says:

    I came away so impressed with the Gonzalez/Besler duo in La Azteca that we have to see how they gel over these next few qualifiers.

    I don’t think the friendlies carry as much weight as people give them. They are expensive scrimmages. What really matters is players step up in meaningful games.

  41. Dennis says:

    Look, Gonzalez has physical attribute that you just can’t teach. But, defending, especially as a CB is more mental than physical. Bocanegra never would have been an excellent CB if all it took was physical presence. It is the ability to read plays and see things coming and the ability to avoid switching off high-alert for the full 90+ minutes. I generally don’t care for Alexi Lalas analyis, but he is right in the regard that an attacker can just hang out for 89 minutes and make one great play that scores a goal and be a hero, while a defender can play great for 89 minutes and be the goat for that one minute of switching off.
    So the question is: Can Gonzalez stay switched-on for the full match or will he exhibit a bit of ADHD, get distracted and fail to defend, or play safely?