Strengths & Weaknesses: The U.S. Defenders

The U.S. World Cup Defenders

By Ridge Mahoney, Senior Editor

Jeff Agoos

Pos.: Defender.
Club: San Jose Earthquakes.
Age: 34.
GP: 130. G: 4.
Strong tackler reads the game well and attempts to pass the ball. Fiercely competitive and leader of the back. Won't win many footraces or aerial duels; sometimes can compensate by positioning, sometimes not. Usually serves ball on free kicks but netted one goal in Gold Cup final.

Gregg Berhalter

Pos.: Defender.
Club: Crystal Palace (ENG).
Age: 28.
GP: 27. G: 0.
Like Agoos, is left-footed and plays with ferocity. English experience and height (6-foot-1) make him tough in the air. Can't always hold his ground. Looks to pass but sometimes dwells on the ball when thumping it is needed. Timing of tackles could be better.

Steve Cherundolo

Position: Defender
Club: Hannover 96 (GER).
Age: 23
GP: 10. Goals: 0.
Central defender in college has matured into quick, clever player at home in midfield or at outside back. Right-footed but has played several positions in Germany. Fast with clean touch although passing for U.S. has been inconsistent. At 5-foot-6, 145 pounds must resist stronger, taller foes.

Frankie Hejduk

Pos.: Defender.
Club: Bayer Leverkusen (GER).
Age: 27.
GP: 40. G: 5.
Once a race car without a steering wheel, now a more sophisticated model with good wheels. Covers vast amounts of ground. Can get to the byline but rarely delivers a threatening cross. Anticipation and reading of situations have improved yet are average at best. Infectious enthusiasm and attitude.

Carlos Llamosa

Pos.: Defender.
Club: New England Revolution.
Age: 32.
GP: 27. G: 0.
Calm and experienced with an excellent sense of timing. Moves and reads the game well. Rarely caught out of position. Can adapt to attackers of different strengths and styles. Heading has improved although not his strongest suit. Speed and agility are adequate. Passing can improve.

Pablo Mastroeni

Pos.: Defender.
Club: Colorado Rapids.
Age: 25.
GP: 10. G: 0.
Well-bred Argentine stock: Tough tackler, smooth on the ball. Moreover, he plays with his head up and is an incisive passer. Nifty enough to get out of tight spaces, strong enough to withstand challenges. Positioning needs to improve as do his decisions of when to step in.

Eddie Pope

Pos.: Defender.
Club: D.C. United.
Age: 28.
GP: 50. G: 5.
Increased upper-body strength has made him harder to knock off the ball but still needs to tackle harder and more decisively. Not always tough enough defensively. Fast over distance and reasonably quick with first few steps. Dangerous in the air on set plays. Passes must be crisper and delivered earlier.

Davis Regis

Pos.: Defender.
Club: Metz (FRA).
Age: 33.
GP: 27. G: 0.
Years of playing in France and Germany have imbued him with skill. Is fluid on the ball and has a good touch yet often passes aimlessly. Decent speed. Gets confused too easily and freezes, thus making no play despite being in position to make one. Finesse player needs more fight.

Tony Sanneh

Pos.: Defender.
Club: Nuremberg (GER).
Age: 31.
GP: 32. G: 1.
Strongest and tallest (6-foot-2) U.S. field player. Overpowers and intimidates opponents. Not an overlapper but can serve decent mid-range balls to the middle or up the flanks. Average crosser. Vulnerable against quick, tricky attackers if help is not nearby. Tracks players well but concentration sometimes wavers.
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