Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Omar Gonzalez reigns in central defense
by Ridge Mahoney, December 14th, 2011 11:46PM

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
Soccer America Men's Top 25 Scoreboard    
[ROUNDUP: Saturday] No. 15 Georgetown handed No. 1 Creighton a 1-0 defeat in Omaha on New ...
Soccer America Women's Top 25 Scoreboard    
[ROUNDUP: Saturday] Freshman Alexa Ben came through in the 59th minute with a header for her ...
Herculez Gomez ends long Liga MX drought    
[AMERICANS ABROAD] Herculez Gomez ended his 19-month scoring drought in Mexico's Liga MX, scoring his first ...
U.S. under-17 women's national team roster    
[CARSON CAMP] U.S. under-17 women's national team coach B.J. Snow has named 25 players for a ...
Scorpions close in on Loons, Strikers get big win    
[NASL: Week 16] San Antonio kept alive its bid to win the NASL fall championship, putting ...
What They're Saying: DeAndre Yedlin    
"I honestly think the Supporters Shield is more important than an MLS Cup championship. In terms ...
Longshot Ticas counter USA with hot keeper    
[SCOUTING REPORT: Costa Rica] Costa Rica, the first Concacaf team outside of North America to qualify ...
Ream gets assist in Bolton Wanderers' victory    
[AMERICANS ABROAD] It has been another barren weekend for U.S. national team players abroad. Of the ...
An excellent goal-line clearance     
[VIDEO PICK: Off the Post] Cruzeiro managed to earn a 1-1 tie with Palmeiras thanks to ...
Woodwork can't hold down USA     
[CONCACAF WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP] About the only thing that stood in the way of the U.S. women's ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives