MLS Preview: Center Backs to Watch

Last week, Blake kicked off our MLS preview blitz with a list of fullbacks Bob Bradley should keep a close watch on this season. Now let’s scan MLS for center backs who might be on Bob’s radar.

Throughout the 2010 World Cup, Onyewu, DeMerit and Bocanegra were Bob’s first choices to be the last line of defense. With Bocanegra aging and Onyewu’s form still uncertain, however, Bob has to think about deepening the squad in this position. FFG recommends the following MLS standouts as worthy of his attention.

Jay DeMerit – Although 31, DeMerit proved worthy of Bradley’s faith throughout the World Cup (he started all 4 USA matches). In November of 2010 he was the first player to sign with Vancouver Whitecaps FC–one of MLS’s newest expansion teams. With his experience and maturity he’ll have a chance to emerge as a leader/captain, and it could signal an interesting final phase of his career.

Omar Gonzalez – The 2009 MLS Rookie of the Year is still developing, but Bradley’s already expressed his interest, having called him up for last August’s USMNT friendly vs. Brazil. He has size, confidence, and has demonstrated that desire to score on set pieces that always makes a centerback all the more attractive.

Tim Ream – Another tall, tactically aware defender who Bradley opened the door to this year was this up-and-comer from the New York Red Bulls. He got his first cap vs. South Africa last November and will certainly continue to be a contender.

Ike Opara – Ike who? He’s not on most people’s radar yet, but with a standout rookie season for the San Jose Earthquakes last year he will be getting a lot of attention in 2011.

Kyle Davies – A product of the US National Team Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida, 21 year old Davies spent some time in the Southampton (UK) club system before signing a four-year deal with MLS. Although originally acquired by Real Salt Lake, he was traded to FC Dallas and (if he recovers from a current injury) that is where he’ll play in 2011 alongside Zach Loyd and another recent call-up, Ugo Ihemulu.

Marvell Wynne – He’s had a rocky career with USMNT, but Wynne’s solid performance and defensive contribution in Colorado’s run for the championship last season keeps him on our list. After all, he’s still about the fastest guy in the league.

WILD CARD PICK

Brek Shea – Followers of last year’s MLS playoffs may think we’ve made an error including Shea on our list of center backs, but actually he’s a perfect fit for that spot–6′ 3″ and quick, with plenty of attitude. In a recent tour of Europe with the Generation Adidas squad, FC Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman played Shea on the back line and was so pleased with his performance that he’s hinted he may do it in MLS as well. Shea’s versatility makes him all the more attractive, and European scouts are just as interested as Bob in watching his evolution this season.

Gringos, did we get it right, or did we leave off your favorite centerback?

3 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Brandon says:

    Dallas’ center back situation seems a bit crowded, with George John in there, too.

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