Jurgen Klinsmann’s choices along the back line Friday, by pretty much every assessment out there, were the only ones that fell in a favorable way.
So, just the doggone luck …
Today we discover that Clarence Goodson (pictured) will be ineligible due to yellow card accumulation. So the back line will change Tuesday at Crew Stadium – presumably along with changes in a midfield that flopped and an attacking arrangement that kicked butt for just under 40 seconds, but wasn’t much from there.
(I should clarify, the back line was going to change regardless, assuming Steve Cherundolo could return healthy.)
The big change Tuesday in Ohio will be at center back, where Goodson is not available to partner with Geoff Cameron. So let’s study the options:
Cameron will almost certainly hold his spot in the rear guard. He’s the rising man back there anyway, and the Stoke City newbie did his new team proud with that steady performance in Kingston. (Again, we must always tip to Klinsmann’s unpredictable ways. So, you never know …)
Carlos Bocanegra is the most obvious choice to station next to Cameron. But Jamaica’s attackers are fast and the longtime U.S. captain isn’t. Plus, Klinsmann clearly had concerns, otherwise Bocanegra would have started in Kingston. It was probably some combination of Jamaica’s speed and Bocanegra’s lack of quality competition lately that had Klinsmann leaning another direction.
Michael Orozco Fiscal has been a Klinsmann favorite from the start. No one knows exactly why, although the Californian did slip forward to record perhaps the most important goal during Klinsi’s time in charge, that little tuck-away in the 1-0 smash-and-grab last month at Azteca.
Maurice Edu partnered with Cameron in the win over Mexico, so that’s clearly an option. Even if the stakes are elevated, a contest against Jamaica on American soil is a far lesser test than facing down El Tri in Mexico City. That is to say, Klinsmann clearly trusts this combo.
Michael Parkhurst played at right back last week, and does so at times for his Danish club, quite a bit recently. But Cherundolo’s return along the right would hand Klinsmann this option, too.
Jonathan Spector’s versatility has probably dented his career; having never established himself at one spot, the Birmingham City defender was never able to find a polished groove, not at international level, anyway. Then again, that same versatility makes him valuable in these situations. Klinsmann could do a lot worse than putting Spector alongside Cameron.