A hammering point for many pundits last weekend when the USMNT took on Turkey in their second game of three friendlies in preparation of the World Cup was the inexperience of the back line. Knowing that none of the current starters that day had ever started in the World Cup, I wanted to do the research on exactly how inexperienced they were. I was lazy though and decided to spend the rest of my day enjoying fine food and drink. I was let off the hook though because that next day I received an email from my friend Jeff who heard these very same statements and actually put in the time to see if they were true.
Jeff tabulated every single USMNT starting back line that has been used starting in 2008 and ending with the most recent match against Turkey. What the data he collected shows tells a different story that what is being touted by pundits and supporters alike. Below are a few of my observations.
1. Klinsmann called in the most experienced guys he had available to him in the player pool for the most part. Sure, they are not the most experienced internationals on the face of the Earth but Klinsmann really did not have a whole lot to choose from. Look at the defenders highlighted with white in the chart above. There is a very good reason why each of them was no longer being considered for international duty even though they had the experience the media wants. Lets go through the list: Bocanegra (age, injury) Cherundolo (retired due to knee problems), Onyewu (age), Bornstein (not of international quality), Pearce (not of international quality), Spector (not of international quality), Demerit (age, injury), Orozco-Fiscal (injury), Marshall (not of international quality), Castillo (not an actual defender).
2. Goodson, Parkhurst and Evans are the only other viable experienced options and each of those players were given a shot to make the final squad Brazil, due to the fact that they were included in the initial 30 man World Cup camp roster. They were each left off the final roster for their own various reasons but the over-lining issue with the three players is their lack of speed and athleticism that looks like Klinsmann was emphasizing. Brooks is more athletic than Goodson, Yedlin is more athletic than Evans (who is also not a natural defender) and Chandler is more athletic than the versatile Parkhurst.
Be prepared for similar statements to be made by pundits on ESPN, as the US takes on Nigeria in Jacksonville, Florida this weekend. Now that you are armed with the proper information you know that this media narrative is a myth and is overblown. The USMNT is currently in a cycle where their back line is somewhat inexperienced compared to the back line of the 2010 World Cup but the most experienced players available to Klinsmann were selected. I will look at this as a positive because for 2018 in Russia the USMNT will have an experienced defense with only DaMarcus Beasley projected to be out of his prime in terms of age.