Can Bocanegra Make It To Brazil?
A few weeks ago, Carlos Bocanegra was named to the USMNT's All-Time Best XI.
With over 100 caps for the Stars and Stripes and having worn the captain's armband from 2007 until early 2013, Bocanegra is quietly one of the most valuable players in United States' soccer history. He made his name with his defense, but also has the most goals all time among U.S. defenders with 14 reaching the back of the net.
But early in 2013, Bocanegra was stripped of his captain's armband when he chose to concentrate on his Chivas USA efforts. Having missed out on the bulk of the 2013 campaign, Jurgen Klinsmann has little to evaluate the 34-year-old defender in terms of a recent body of work. Despite not announcing his retirement from soccer at the international level, could this mean the end of the Bocanegra era?
Perhaps the question Klinsmann is asking himself is whether or not he has what is necessary to defend against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Mezut Ozil with his current roster. This is without a doubt the most toxic set of attacks the USMNT has ever faced in the World Cup. In order to pull through to the second round, Jurgen will need the best back four he can construct.
The World Cup Qualifiers showcased a new generation that can hold their own against strong attacks. The likes of Matt Besler, Brad Evans, and Omar Gonzalez have earned their spots in Brazil, whether it is coming off the bench or starting on the pitch. Demarcus Beasley has been a Klinsmann favorite at leftback and the experiment has led to positive results.
Beasley brings necessary and valuable experience to the back but Carlos Bocanegra is needed to keep the sails steady when the Red, White and Blue find themselves down (and they will) against Germany, Portugal and Ghana. Bocanegra played every minute of the 2010 World Cup allowing the U.S. to keep every match within striking distance when they needed it the most.
The red flag is Bocanegra's age and form. There's no question that it takes more than one player to keep 2013 Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo in check, but speed and agility help once the Portuguese forward has space. Carlos, like Beasley, will have to rely on the younger Americans to bring those essentials to the table.
There is doubt to his performance level, but Bocanegra has one last great performance left in him. Klinsmann should recognize this and give him a ticket to Brazil when the time comes. As every American knows, the USMNT will need all hands on deck if they hope to advance past the Group of Death.
What do you think? Does Carlos Bocanegra deserve a spot on the final roster when the Yanks go marching into Brazil?
Comment and share your thoughts below.