When the US national team steps onto the field against Belgium tomorrow night in Cleveland, several different defenders could be used in all kinds of different ways by Jurgen Klinsmann.
Everything is up in the air. It is pandemonium. But that is fantastic. The US now has so many great options at the back.
First of all, let’s just remind you that USMNT stalwarts Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo and Oguchi Onyewu aren’t in the squad.
The relative youngsters — Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron — who impressed against Costa Rica and Mexico in March are here to stay.
These new guys aren’t going anywhere.
They’re the future of the US national team and now Klinsmann has an embarrassment of riches in defense. But after their domestic campaigns just finishing, Fabian Johnson, Danny Williams and Edgar Castillo will miss the friendly with Belgium and meet up with the USMNT for the friendly with Germany in D.C. on June 2.
So the US is a little short at the back right now. But that’s okay, there is plenty of talent that made it to Cleveland.
But how will Klinsi align all that talent? Well, left back is still a troubled area but with DaMarcus Beasley confirmed as a starter for his 100th game tomorrow, Klinsmann will likely start with him on the left.
The central pairing may be the same two players who excelled at the Azteca. Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler proved Major League Soccer is producing top quality defenders for Klinsmann to use. Their ascension through the ranks after impressing in the January national team camp has been just one of the reasons why the experienced trio of Cherundolo, Bocanegra and Onyewu have been left off this roster.
At right back, plenty of options remain with Clarence Goodson and Geoff Cameron solid options. It seems as though Cameron is the most likely to start there, meaning the same back four that got a shutout in Mexico will start against Belgium.
I can’t argue with that. The performance in that key qualifier was one of the best defensive displays I’ve seen from a US side, and their have been plenty of stellar ones over the years. That’s what the US does best.
But, will a lack of experience hurt the team in next month’s qualifiers? Goodson is the most experienced defender on this current roster, the Brondby defender is 31-years-old and has 35 caps. Besler and Gonzalez have eight caps between them. The other four defenders haven’t got more than 15 each.
However as they showed in the Azteca, experience doesn’t count much for these days. Getting it done does.
I’m certainly looking forward to seeing these inexperienced international defenders making their mark with the USMNT. Roll on Wednesday night.