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
MLS Positional Rankings: Olave excels in new surroundings
by Ridge Mahoney, December 20th, 2013 7:12PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Confidential

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls, new york red bulls

MOST COMMENTED

By Ridge Mahoney

MLS squads as a whole may be lacking in certain player types, but the right side of central defense is well-stocked.

Best of MLS 2013:
Goalkeepers:Donovan Ricketts
Right Backs: Sheanon Williams
Left Centerbacks: Jose Goncalves
Left Backs:Seth Sinovic

If there’s one constant to the most successful MLS teams of the past decade, it’s a dominant centerback. Men like Jamison Olave, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Aurelien Collin, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Nat Borchersare key components that separate hopeful contenders from serious title threats.

These are the 2013 rankings for centerbacks who usually play in the right-hand slot though most of them are equally capable on either side. Left centerbacks, such as Besler, were ranked separately.

SA's Top 10 MLS Right Centerbacks (2013)
1. (13) Jamison Olave(New York Red Bulls)
2. (6) Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy)
3. (4) Aurelien Collin (Sporting KC)
4. (5) Nat Borchers(Real Salt Lake)
5. (NR) Alessandro Nesta (Montreal Impact)
6. (2) Victor Bernardez (San Jose Earthquakes)
7. (11) Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (Seattle Sounders)
8. (8) Bobby Boswell (Houston Dynamo)
9. (NR) Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew)
10. (NR) Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union)
Note: In parentheses 2012 ranking of all center backs.
NR=not ranked in 2012; -=not in MLS in 2012.

Olave, formerly a defensive mainstay in the RSL back line, toughened up the Red Bulls as they captured their first Supporters’ Shield and shaved five goals off their goals-conceded total in 2012. His four goals featured two nifty finishes with his feet and he finished fourth in Defender of the Year voting. Unfortunately, his season ended with a red card issued for a late tackle on Omar Cummings in the playoffs.

A few shaky games while recovering from national-team burdens plagued Gonzalez, who otherwise sharpened his use of the ball and decisiveness in critical situations compared to previous years. Though he signed a lucrative new MLS contract in August, there will be bidders for his services next summer. Collin takes too many cautions (13) and commits too many careless fouls (54 total) but wins a lot of balls on the ground and in the air. He scored three goals in the regular season, three more in the playoffs (including one in the final), and drilled home the decisive penalty kick as SKC captured its second MLS Cup.

RSL handed Borchers a big task after it traded away three starters, including Olave, following the 2012 season. Borchers took on more leadership and held down the fort as a new fleet of players carried the team’s colors. Injuries and age eventually caught up with the 37-year-old Alessandro Nesta, who announced his retirement after the Impact dropped from first place and barely made the playoffs. When on his game, an uncanny sense of positioning and mastery of the ball provided glimpses of how the world’s elite play centerback.

Victor Bernardez, an unstoppable force on his best days, rebounded after a rocky start to the season to drive the Quakes’ resurgence. Hurtado’s man-marking prowess continued but he often committed fouls (28) trying to cover up mistakes. Bobby Boswell contributed another solid season for another Dynamo run to the playoffs and should be a key component in the rebuild of D.C. United, which claimed him in the Re-Entry Draft.

Marshall, the MLS Defender of the Year in 2008, showed more of that form than in past seasons as he re-established his game following post-concussion issues. The four games he missed were due to a strained hamstring and at 29, should have a few good years left for his new team in Seattle. In a perfect world, Amobi Okugowould be a defensive mid, yet he’s composed and strong and dependable in the back, and absolutely vital to the Union’s future

SA's Best Centerbacks (1996-2013)
2013 Jamison Olave (RCB), Jose Goncalves (LCB)
2012 Matt Besler
2011 Omar Gonzalez
2010 Jamison Olave
2009 Geoff Cameron
2008 Chad Marshall
2007 Eddie Robinson
2006 Jimmy Conrad, Michael Parkhurst
2005 Jimmy Conrad, Michael Parkhurst
2004 Robin Fraser
2003 Eddie Pope
2002 Alexi Lalas
2001 Jeff Agoos
2000 Peter Vermes
1999 Lubos Kubik
1998 Eddie Pope
1997 Eddie Pope
1996 Robin Fraser
Note:In 2005 and 2006, center backs were ranked in 3-man and 4-man backlines.


1 comment
  1. John Burns
    commented on: December 21, 2013 at 3:49 p.m.
    I am curious if the Jorge Bernardez mentioned in this article is related to Victor Bernardez, the dude who actually plays right center back for the Quakes. Anybody ever edit this stuff before sending it out for public consumption?

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




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Confidential
If the song remains the same, how can it be rewritten?    
Thumped by Argentina in a Copa America Centenario semifinal, the U.S. will nonetheless take positives from ...
Stepping on toes? That's not the solution to improving U.S. soccer    
Do you wonder what kind of advice Jurgen Klinsmann was giving his players during their loss ...
USA reaps benefits of South American opposition    
Reaching a Copa America Centenario semifinal against Argentina to be played on Tuesday is being hailed ...
USA has reason to celebrate but suspensions sure take edge off big win    
First, the good news from Thursday night in Seattle. The USA's 2-1 victory over Ecuador, which ...
Centenario group phase serves up plenty of spectacle, drama, and controversy    
When big teams like Brazil and Uruguay fell prone to lapses, other nations took advantage to ...
Guzan seizes chance for No. 1 shirt    
Seven straight games including all three at the Centenario have featured Brad Guzan in goal; he ...
Berliner John Brooks takes charge of USA's defense    
Just three years ago, John Brooks, born and raised in Berlin but the son of a ...
USA's 'musts' for Paraguay game if it isn't 'must-win'    
The Copa America Centenario results to date are mirror images of what occurred in March, when ...
May Clint Dempsey long play for the USA    
Hard to believe, but as recently as January there was speculation about whether Clint Dempsey would ...
How Klinsmann can fix his midfield    
I'd suggest for Jurgen Klinsmann, after opening the Copa Centenario with a 2-0 loss to Colombia, ...
>> Soccer America Confidential Archives