U.S. national team in evolution; just look at the center backs

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Jurgen Klinsmann was always going to be an instrument of change for the United States national team.

But to see the extent – perhaps more in personnel selection than in tactics, as we all suspected initially – it helps to take a step back. Only they can we truly gauge the scope of the roster Klinsmann-inspired churn.

In fact, if we can draw a tight circle around the center back position, the evolution is truly dizzying.

Consider for a moment what the United States depth chart looked like at center back about 14 months ago, around the time Klinsmann was settling into his first winter camp. That January (of 2012) Klinsmann was taking his first extended look at some of the younger players – including a couple of “discoveries” now forming the backbone of his team.

The center back depth chart of that time looked something like this:

  • 1. Carlos Bocanegra
  • 2. Oguchi Onyewu
  • 3. Clarence Goodson
  • 4. Michael Orozco Fiscal
  • 5. Tim Ream
  • 6. Jay DeMerit
  • 7. Michael Parkhurst

If we take a look at it now, the evolution over just 14 or so months turns that list into something unrecognizable.

Klinsmann says Carlos Bocanegra is not necessarily finished with the national team. But the former U.S. captain does turn 34 in May, and it would seem that only through injury would Klinsmann try to stuff ketchup back into the bottle on this one.

It may be conceivable that Onyewu could grind his way back into the mix – but it seems like a stretch. Given his limited playing time and even more limited passing ability, all parlayed with the coach’s disdain for center backs who feel most comfortable hoofing the ball forward, I wouldn’t wager a paycheck on it.

Tim Ream may as well be part of the witness protection program far as Klinsmann and his staff are concerned. And DeMerit, bless his heart, is out for a long, long time. It’s difficult to see a road back to the national team there.

Meanwhile, look where the center back depth chart has landed today. Three of the guys at the top weren’t even on the list 14 months ago.

With the caveat that this list is just a guess at what Klinsmann’s chart looks like, this will probably resemble the central defensive pecking order at next year’s World Cup. And how about them Brazilian apples?

  • 1. Omar Gonzalez
  • 2. Geoff Cameron (pictured above)
  • 3. Clarence Goodson
  • 4. Matt Besler
  • 5. Maurice Edu
  • 6. Carlos Bocanegra
  • 7. Michael Orozco Fiscal