An Early Call on the Central Defense Pairing in 2014

Discussion in 'USA Men: News & Analysis' started by Maximum Optimal, Feb 11, 2011.

  1. Maximum Optimal

    Maximum Optimal Member+

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    When the last cycle ended, I think there was general agreement that the contenders for central defense in this cycle were: Onyewu, Goodson, Gonzalez, Agbossoumonde, Opara, Ream and Marshall.

    I've felt all along that Boss was the most complete and talented player in this group. But I also developed some concerns about the path his career was taking. With the recent move to Djurgården where the coach apparently plans to slot him into the starting lineup, those concerns have been removed. I think it quite likely that barring injury he will win a starting spot with the nats at some point in this cycle and be in the starting lineup in 2014.

    Who will be his partner? Based on play toward the end of the MLS season and in the South Africa and Chile friendlies, I've come to favor Tim Ream over the other contenders. He is certainly not as physically imposing as most of the other guys on that list. But I think he brings enough offsetting attributes, mainly the calm distribution from the back.

    A combination of Boss and Ream would represent nothing short of a revolution in terms of the way the US plays out of the back.

    I realize that early projections sometimes go wrong. But that's my call and I'm sticking with it.


  2. KZ Man

    KZ Man Member

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    Very early.
  3. Marko72

    Marko72 Member+

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    I still give Gooch at least a 50% chance of making it, and likely starting if he does.

    Boss has obvious gifts, but he's at a point where he's going to need to use it or lose it. The past couple seasons have not been kind; we'll see how well he does in Sweden and go from there. If it doesn't go too well, his career is beginning to look abortive. I'm not betting against him just yet, but I'm not getting my hopes up yet, either.

    I have a feeling Ream's going to find a way into the 23, either more or less prominently.

    Of the guys we'd originally pegged as the candidates, the one I'm betting against early on is Marshall.
  4. Altidore_Adu_Fan

    Altidore_Adu_Fan Member

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    Ike Opara people


  5. IndividualEleven

    IndividualEleven Member+

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    Not sure about the MLS guys. I'd like to see more games against better competition.

    Gooch. Will be 31 in 2014. The obvious choice as the first choice centerback.

    Lichaj. Not an obvious choice as he plays fullback. However variously listed from 5'11" to 6'1" 160lb-170lb. He's a powerful athlete who looks to have the profile to be able to compete inside. If Bradley is willing to give Bornstein(a much smaller guy) and Edu(no prior backline experience whatsoever) a runout at cb, then Lichaj with his physical tools and backline progression would seem a better option.

    Boss-young, but his development and his path to the top flight seem more assured than the MLS guys.

    The MLS guys. The opportunities will be limited for this group.
  6. Skevin

    Skevin Member+

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    I want to see another season from Ream before I can tell you how good he is, same goes with Opara. Gonzalez at least has 2 solid seasons. If I have learned anything, one year does not define a career.
  7. xbhaskarx

    xbhaskarx Member+

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    (followed by Ream and Onyewu)
    /thread

    It will be interesting to see how MLS rookies like Jalil Anibaba and AJ Soares fare compared to Ream and Gonzalez....
  8. Ghost

    Ghost Member+

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    Starting in Sweden is kinda a shrug of the shoulders. A midtable Swedish team isn't ManU. The Americans that have gone to Scandinavia have almost all bounced around Scandinavian leagues rather than move to a top league. ONly Davies and Pearce have moved up, and only to relegation battlers.

    There miight be something to it, but right now, Boss is a lot of hype.

    Not to replay the "Doomed" thread, but we need good starters in the big leagues to compete, or MLSers who are good enough to play at that level. We really need to see an American defender emerge as a completely dominant MLS defender and be good enough to reach that level.

    It's not good enough to have Tim Ream become a very good MLS defender. We need to see him or someone else step up and dominate.
  9. IndividualEleven

    IndividualEleven Member+

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    Thing about playing in Sweden is that it'll be easier to move on than if one were playing in 'we don't consider ourselves a selling league' MLS. Unless some team swoops in with an over the odds offer the MLS defenders are playing out the contracts.

    Advantage Boss.
  10. Howard the Drake

    Howard the Drake Member+

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    If you're 19 and have had a rather rocky club career so far, starting in the Allsvenskan is a pretty big opportunity.
  11. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

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    Gooch + Mo Edu, with Boss as the #1 back-up for both spots.
  12. Wessoman

    Wessoman Member+

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    You know, on another soccer board, immediately after the 2002 World Cup, I predicted our starting forwards were going to be Conor Casey and Taylor Twellman.

    A week after the 2006 World Cup, I predicted our forwards were going to be Gabriel Ferrari and Freddy Adu in 2010.

    I think I remember picking Jack McInerney and Adrian Reulas to be our forwards for 2014. Should I have not done that? :D

    I think I'll stop making predictions for CB. But I will say this, with Onyewu, Goodson, Opara, Gonzalez, Ream, Boss, Whitbread, etc... I don't really worry about the central defense for this cycle.
  13. Mr Martin

    Mr Martin Member+

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    I would not bet against this combo. Might not happen, but it's plausible.


    If Onyewu is healthy and playing club soccer in Europe in 2014, he's an 85% lock to be one of the starting CBs.

    Finding the best partner for him will be the big issue. Reading the early tea leaves from the last few friendlies and some quotes suggest that BB has his eye on Ream. Ream does have some very complimentary qualities to partner Onyewu. But does he have the level of quality necessary? Nobody knows right now.

    But 'Boss and Opara have very interesting qualities, too. And a sound veteran like Goodson won't be knocked out until the "final" rounds in 2013/2014. I think Gonzalez will lag behind these 5 guys, but will end up as a better CB than Marshall turned out to be; is that good enough to make a Cup team?

    Those are the 5 players with the best shot at filling 4 CB spots for 2014. But there are always surprises with so much time remaining.
  14. deuteronomy

    deuteronomy Member+

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    This is probably the best guess at the moment.

    I would put Gooch at 60% (injury/ies a concern for me)

    Edu 40%

    Boss 15%

    Ream/Opara/Clark 10%

    Field 65%
  15. Susaeta

    Susaeta BigSoccer Supporter

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    Bradley is giving Ream a lot of work. I think he will be given a pretty good shot at the job. I favor the Onyewu & Edu pairing as well, but in the short term I expect it will Onyewu & Goodson in big games. I think the longer Edu goes without playing central defender for the US, the less likely it is he will play there in 2014. My guess as to the pecking order, but without much confidence beyond Gooch.

    Gooch (31) - only injuries keep him from starting.
    Goodson (32)
    Ream (26)
    Edu (28)
    Boss (22)
    Others
  16. BringSoccerToIndy

    BringSoccerToIndy Member

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    I'm on the Ream bandwagon. He's going to be a damn good player and I've seen more of him than I have from Gale Boss. Boss's reputation precedes him, but I'd like to see him have a consistent club team before crowning him.
  17. Marko72

    Marko72 Member+

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    IMO you're both correct. It's not the fast-track to the top leagues, which is what we were hoping for him originally. But it's a damn sight better than what he's had before, which is to say that he's gotten his finger stuck on the "abort" key of his career up to now. This is a chance to get it going in the right direction again and actually play some professional soccer.
  18. Marko72

    Marko72 Member+

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    Physically speaking, Opara is the most interesting of the MLS guys; the total athletic package for a defender. He went down last season with injury, but if he gets back up to his previous level quickly this season he's one of those guys that we'll all want to be keeping our eye on. At the present, though, I think the #1 MLS guy is Ream, followed by Gonzales.

    My prognosis (on the current MLSers, not going to speculate yet about the rookies, and excluding the YA's in this): Ream will probably find a way onto the tournament rosters, though just as likely as the #3 or #4 option. Gonzales will be on the fringe, just in or just out. Opara is a question mark. Marshall I think is this cycle's Califf and won't factor in 2014, but might here-or-there in 2011-13. In the end, though, he's just not going to be good enough.
  19. TrueCrew

    TrueCrew Member+

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    Well, I think it is WAY too early, especially for the MLS guys. But CB is a position where 31-32 should be no problem. In fact, you may get more in guile than you lose athletically at that age.

    Right now:
    1st choice: Onyewu (FC Twente) + Bocanegra (St. Etienne).
    2nd choice: Goodson (Brondby) + DeMerit (Vancouver).

    DeMerit and Boca are likely to be out of it by next time, but some one has to beat them out before I replace either for replacement's sake. As long as Boca is playing in France and the contenders are in MLS, it is going to be hard.

    I'd put the contenders into 3 categories, more established professional players in their mid 20's (Parkhurst, Marshall, Cameron); possible converts from another position with NT chops (Edu, Clark, Spector, Bornstein); and the younger pros in their 1st-2nd years (Gonzalez, Ream, Boss, Opara).

    Anyway, if we had a big match next week, and one of the top 4 was unavailable, I'd still be a bit more comfortable with a player from the first two groups, especially Parkhurst, Marshall, or Edu, before any of the younger guys.

    In terms of tool set, I think Edu, Opara, Boss, and Cameron have the most upside. Parkhurst has the best soccer brain.

    I'm not nearly as high on Ream as most, I think at his best, he's Parkhurst.

    And remember, we still have 3 years, plenty of time for someone to come from off the pace, like Anibaba or possibly Okugo.
  20. Ghost

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    If you're 19 with a rather rocky club career so far, then I don't understand why so much NT expectation is being placed on him.
  21. Marko72

    Marko72 Member+

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    Generally I agree with the way you break this down. My one bone of contention is Ream. I don't consider myself to be in the fanboy contingent who thinks he's going to be our best CB, but he's not in the Parkhurst category, either. Parkhurst was getting beaten with the NT on routine headers by the likes of El Salvador. By the same token, Ream has held his own thus far--not dominated, but held his own, playing a somewhat similar level of opponent (ie the Chilean domestics). Where Parkhurst was a major liability that some hoped his vision and composure would compensate for, Ream's not really much of a liability.

    For the record, I was a Parkhurst skeptic from the beginning. I think people liked him simply because he was the anti-Gooch/Bocanegra, and they didn't really take into account just how good he was or wasn't in his differing style.

    (If he was great, even including weakness on headers and such, then I would've been on that bandwagon, too. But he wasn't otherwise great with a major weakness, he was pretty good with a major weakness.)
  22. sidefootsitter

    sidefootsitter Member+

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    The reason I picked Edu is because he is, IMO, the most complimentary to Gooch.

    One got size, the other got mobility.

    Ream's chief attribute is his deep distribution but he won't have advantage over Edu in that regard.

    Plus, Gooch should be at least competent with it.

    Opara and Gonzo are top home prospects but a lot will depend on how much international PT they can get prior to the WC'14. If they're still in MLS by then, it probably not be enough.

    If that's the case, Goodson and Clark will round off the defensive depth.

    The difference between 02 going to 06 and 06 going to 10 and 10 going to 14 is the ever growing depth of the US and the increased difficulty of the young players breaking into the lineups over the holdovers, most of whom will be playing in at least the mid-level UEFA Leagues.

    Back at the beginning of Camp Cupcakes, Arena could call up half of his team from MLS.

    Nowadays, Donovan aside, an MLS star isn't even likely to make a game-day 18 for an international.

    And, so the chances of the "local kid making it big" on the international stage out of the blue are getting to be pretty darn low.
  23. kokoplus10

    kokoplus10 Moderator Staff Member

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    There are so many question marks with all these guys (vets included). Even if I had to make the decision today I don't know that I could so thank God I'm not the USMNT manager. We have guys that are out of position there, guys that are perhaps physically not up to snuff, guys who are technically not up to snuff, and to project who will decline and who will improve exponentially is almost impossible.

    If you put a gun to my head I guess I'd say Gooch and Goodson.
  24. Ghost

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    The thing is ... There's a football saying that "if you've got two quarterbacks then you've got no quarterbacks." That's sort of how I look at our MLS defenders. If we've potentially got three MLS central defenders then we've got no central defenders. I can't imagine that there are three central defenders in MLS who have excellent potential as a starter on the national team level. So the fact that there isn't one yet who stands out enough to be the consensus "that's our guy" choice is a bit troubling. Hopefully one emerges this year.
  25. Editor In Chimp

    Editor In Chimp Member+

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    If I had to guess who would start in 2014 now, I also would go with Gooch and Goodison, but I wouldnt at all be surprised to see a combination of Boss/Ream/Opara by then.

    Far too much time and too many games to make a call.

    This might be one minor way where our new, awful qualification setup might benefit us. Doesn't it end up being a couple more games than the Hex? We might need those games, even against minnows, to sort the situation out.

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