Jurgen Klinnsmann has some serious tactical decisions to make in regards to the U.S Men’s national team and its back four before the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
The side is well-stocked, with quality throughout the midfield. Be it in the middle of the park, or on the flanks, there is little doubt that quality footballers like Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey will be manning the middle-third of the pitch.
The Yanks look in good shape up top, too, with the emergence of Herculez Gomez as one of the most feared strikers in Liga MX, Jozy Altidore scoring in bunches in the Netherlands and youngsters like Juan Agudelo and Terrence Boyd creating highlights worth watching over and over again.
It’s the backline, particularly in terms of the outside backs, where the tactics and decision making gets murky.
At full strength Klinsmann has appeared to prefer German-Americans Fabian Johnson and Timmy Chandler to man the wide positions for his defense: The former taking charge on the left and the latter on the right. Against Honduras they were anchored by Geoff Cameron and Omar Gonzalez as the two center backs.
This all comes into question now after the spectacular outing that Matt Besler and the aforementioned Gonzalez enjoyed against Mexico in Azteca stadium in the team’s most recent World Cup qualifier.
To put it simply, these two were synced to near perfection. Their games complement each other quite well. Where Gonzalez is a master at winning tackles, aerials and clearing dangerous balls, Besler is excellent in possession. He distributes confidently out of the back.
Playing the MLS-duo of Besler and Gonzalez in the middle thereby clears Cameron out of the lineup. Hard to do that considering he got the job done at right back in two straight shutouts.
Then there are the veterans, like DaMarcus Beasley, who reminded everyone just how much of a true professional he is with his valiant performances against Costa Rica and Mexico at left back.
Steve Cherundolo, when fit, provides the ability to overlap and cross the ball that is so vital to wide play in the USMNT system.
Former captain Carlos Bocanegra, who was left off the recent roster because of a lack of playing time for his club, is in the mix as well.
Clarence Goodson made a case for his involvement in the team playing a key role in blanking Costa Rica in a blizzard.
Injuries aside, it will be critical for the team to develop a consistent backline and stick with it. Chemistry and togetherness are key elements in defending. These reasons might be enough to stick with Gonzalez and Besler in the middle of the defense. They are on record as suggesting they very much enjoy playing with each other and they will only grow as a pair with time and experience.
Who is the best defender for the U.S. team right now?
As for the flanks, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will get the nod come Brazil. A gut-informed hypothesis suggests Klinsmann will go with the Bundesliga players, Chandler and Johnson,but another school of thought points to the most recent results and how inspired the team looked without them there.
Bocanegra, Cherundolo and Beasley, for better or for worse, will likely be on the outside looking in.