FIFA World Cup

Why Omar Gonzalez Is USA's Biggest World Cup Headache

Tre' AtkinsonFeatured ColumnistJune 12, 2014

Why Omar Gonzalez Is USA's Biggest World Cup Headache

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    Moises Castillo/Associated Press

    Every squad going to Brazil will have questions and concerns, and Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. roster is no different. After leaving out the likes of Landon Donovan and calling up several young players, some have begun to question the manager's decisions.

    There is a lot of potential for success in the USMNT roster but also possible problems. However, it isn't a new player that could be the biggest headache for America—it is a regular face.

    In this article, we will discuss why centre-back Omar Gonzalez is America's biggest World Cup headache and why Klinsmann will have to be very careful when looking to utilize the 25-year-old.

    Let's begin, shall we?

Lack of Experience

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    It isn't really fair to say that lack of experience is a big cause for concern with Gonzalez seeing as how none of the centre-backs on the U.S. roster have ever played in a World Cup. But it is still an issue and could cause major problems for the Yanks.

    When playing in a World Cup, a player must know exactly what is going to be asked of them. The high level of competitions demands a player rise to the occasion, and inexperience can often make that a big issue.

    Gonzalez may be 25 years old, but he has yet to surpass 20 caps for the U.S. team. Internationally, he is relatively untested, and playing in the World Cup seems to be a bit above his level at this point.

    His inexperience has also shown up in other ways as he has been caught out of position in bigger games and isn't a stranger to making a mistake.

    To put it lightly, Gonzalez isn't ready to be a World Cup centre-back at this point. The defense will be the most important factor for America, and they have very little room for mistakes when playing against the likes of Germany or Portugal.

Lack of Pace

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Recent showings prove that the U.S. will indeed try to play a high line of defense in this World Cup. When used properly, a high line can be very effective. Yet, Gonzalez is a liability in that system.

    Gonzalez lacks the most important thing in order to be successful in a defensive high line: pace. 

    With the American defense pushed up, Gonzalez will struggle to keep up with opposing attackers. One quick counterattack and everything can go wrong for the U.S. back line.

    Looking at America's opponents in the group stage makes this issue even more of a problem. Ghana and Portugal are both known for their speed, while Germany also boasts very fast attackers that can really do some damage.

    When Gonzalez is on the pitch, the U.S. will not be able to utilize their high line. Opponents would be looking to take advantage of his lack of pace which could end badly. He is a very solid defender, but pace can kill despite someone's talent level.

Tackling Is Still a Big Weakness

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Is there is one weakness that truly stands out for Gonzalez, it is high inability to make strong tackles. For a defender, not being a solid tackler is definitely not a good thing.

    Throughout his career, Gonzalez has shown that he has a knack for mistiming tackles or missing them altogether. He rarely dives into a challenge which is good, but there is also little room for weak tackles in a World Cup.

    Thankfully, Gonzalez is a very accomplished aerial defender who is also capable of passing the ball out of the back. He makes up for his weakness in other ways, but his tackling is still an issue that needs to be resolved.

    With Cristiano Ronaldo or Mario Goetze running at the back line, you would hope to see a defender be able to stand their ground. America does have defenders who can do that, but Gonzalez isn't one of them.

His Role Is Still Uncertain

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    A few months ago, it looked like Gonzalez and Matt Besler were the unquestioned centre-back pairing for the USMNT. Now, however, Geoff Cameron has overtaken Gonzalez who will likely not be a starter in Brazil.

    That being said, Gonzalez will still see plenty of action in this World Cup. As the backup centre-back, he will get a lot of minutes and will play a big part in how America does in Brazil.

    Yet, his role in this team is still very much a big question mark. 

    With the emergence of John Brooks, Gonzalez could find himself fourth in the pecking order this summer. No one is quite sure just how relied upon he will be, but for now, he keeps floating in and out of the lineup.

    At the World Cup, Klinsmann will have to determine what Gonzalez's role will be. The defender must either stand aside as Cameron takes over or be given the full reigns to the starting position.

    Defensive lines are all about continuity. Players who constantly come in and out of the lineup can cause problems, and there is little room for error in this group.

    When it really comes down to it, Gonzalez looks out of place in this U.S. side. His playing style doesn't fit the desired system, and he has proven that he can be a liability at times.

    He is the most hot-and-cold player in the USMNT, and inconstancy is never a good thing. Maybe the defender shows his best form at the World Cup, or maybe he proves that he just doesn't have what it takes on the biggest stage.

     

    Is Omar Gonzalez America's biggest World Cup headache? What role will he play in Brazil? Leave your thoughts and comments below!

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