Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Omar Gonzalez reigns in central defense
by Ridge Mahoney, December 14th, 2011 11:46PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls

MOST COMMENTED

[BEST OF MLS 2011: Center Backs] The Galaxy conceded just 28 goals in 34 matches, thanks to a resilient defense led by Omar Gonzalez, the 2011 MLS Defender of the Year who also tops our Positional Rankings of center backs.

SA's Top 12 Center Backs
1. Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles)
2. George John (FC Dallas)
3. Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake)
4. Carlos Valdes (Philadelphia)
5. Jeff Parke (Seattle)
6. Jamison Olave (Real Salt Lake)
7. A.J. DeLaGarza (Los Angeles)
8. Chad Marshall (Columbus)
9. Bobby Boswell (Houston)
10. A.J. Soares (New England)
11. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (Seattle)
12. Aurelien Collin (Sporting Kansas City)

No players on the field are more dependent on each other than defenders, and particularly essential is the communication and cohesion among those who play in the middle.

Most MLS teams feature a four-man back line, and in such systems the most successful central pairs work in unison, so assessing them individually often rewards one at the expense of the other.

One of the most important decisions by Galaxy coach Bruce Arena in 2011 was to move DeLaGarza, a college teammate of Gonzalez at the University of Maryland, from outside back into the middle when injuries sidelined Leonardo and Gregg Berhalter. The Galaxy set a league record by conceding just eight goals in 17 home games and led MLS with 17 shutouts.

In his third professional season, Gonzalez responded to the mentoring of Berhalter, a former U.S. international who took on coaching duties. He anticipated situations more, and relied less on his height (6-foot-5) and strength to chase down opponents, break up plays, and collect second balls.

John drew interest from the Greek national team, for which he could qualify on parentage, and English Premier League club Blackburn during a season marked by sharper concentration on and off the ball. Borchers soldiered on when injuries sidelined Olave and RSL gradually regained its swagger after a stumbling start. Valdes, a formed a solid partnership with Danny Califf to shore up what had been a very leaky Union defense in its expansion season, though both are prone to foul excessively.

Parke cut down on his mistakes and took on a more prominent leadership role when his partner, Hurtado, sat out injuries and suspensions. DeLaGarza’s speed, savvy and tenacity meshed well with Gonzalez’s attributes, and there were games where nearly nothing got through the middle to trouble the Galaxy goalies. Marshall and the Crew were strong at times but faded down the stretch as he topped the 200 mark in career appearances.

Boswell stepped up his game late in the season when a team makeover paired him with Geoff Cameron. Soares labored stoutly amid defensive breakdowns and collapses during a very difficult rookie season. Newcomer Collin needed some time to adjust to MLS, and overcame minor injuries to aid SKC’s late-season run of just four goals conceded in the final seven games.



2 comments
  1. Barry Thomas
    commented on: December 15, 2011 at 10:12 a.m.
    When will Omar get a decent USMNT call-up? I'd hate to lose him to Mexico!
  1. Scott O'connor
    commented on: December 15, 2011 at 7:51 p.m.
    This should send a message to Klinsman. Every eligible player to win MLS defender of the year has gotten plenty of caps for the USMNT. Omar should get his chance in January. Is he under-23 and possibly eligible for the Olympics too?

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Sebastian Saucedo strikes twice as U.S. U-20s advance     
The USA moved into the second stage of the men's Concacaf U-20 Championship with a 4-1 ...
Roster: U.S. U-23 women head to Spain    
The U.S. U-23 women's national team will play Japan (March 2), England (March 4) and Norway ...
USWNT: No Klingenberg, no A-Rod for SheBelieves Cup    
U.S. women's national team head coach Jill Ellis has named the 23-player roster for the 2017 ...
Report: UCL headed to Turner and Univision in 2018    
Turner Sports and Univision have snatched the U.S. media rights to the UEFA Champions League away ...
U.S. Soccer: U-17 and U-20 women's coaches to be replaced    
B.J. Snow is no longer U.S. U-17 girls national team coach and Michelle French is out ...
U.S. Abroad: Johnson's M'Gladbach pulls miracle comeback    
Fabian Johnson came off the bench for Borussia Moenchengladbach as it came back from 2-0 down ...
Sneak Peek: Potent Impact seeks resiliency and depth    
Last year Montreal stunned Red Bulls, 3-1, on aggregate and took a commanding lead against Toronto ...
What They're Saying: Perry Dealy    
"It's worth preserving because we don't have a lot of icons. It would save a lot ...
Sneak Peek: Vieira is convinced NYCFC will be improved    
In his first season, Patrick Vieira proved that a foreign coach unfamiliar with MLS could find ...
Sneak Peek: Timbers look as good as ever    
From MLS champion in 2015 to out of the playoffs in 2016, it was quite a ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives