Jumble: Oh, No! Not That Leftback Enquiry Again

Does this question really need an introduction?

Much has been made about the Yanks vaunted left back position. Who do you favor as the lead in the depth chart there: Boca, Bornstein or Pearce….and why?


GeorgeCross: Personally, I think that Bradley has given Bornstein more than enough chances to make that position his own, and he has not come anywhere near the required standard – to be perfectly honest, his inadequacies would be highlighted week in week out in the Prem, let alone international football and the World Cup.

Pearce is a little tricky because I have only seen him play a few times for Dallas – I saw him play quite well, but did not think he was anything too special.  Not sure he has enough ability to bridge the gulf in class – might not be so evident in the group games against Slovenia and Algeria, but I question Pearce in the knockout stages.

Therefore, Bocanegra to get the green light, not because he is brilliant, but simply because he is the best option that the USA, sort of a minimax strategy – minimise the maximum damage that an opponent could inflict – rather than looking for an offensive left back. He might not have Bornstein’s legs, but you will not see him getting caught out positionally as much, and he won’t be as naïve in conceding ‘tactical’ fouls in and around the box – again, the further the USA progresses, the tighter the games become, and it really is about these millimetres and centimetres  that can make all the difference.


McKee, “Spectator-Capped”: Spector/Gooch/DeMerit/Boca! (ConfedCup lineup = best).

England will bring speed/skill regardless of our choice.  We need Boca’s headers in attack with LD10 and CD9 ahead of Boca – keep the game in their half to check England’s pace.  Cards/injuries? Use Dolo right, Spector left, Goodson center as needed.   Pearce? Bornstein – not convinced

Shoaff, Black Sox: Pearce: so slow.  Bornstein: so not ready for the World Cup.  Boca: needed in the middle, especially with the injury to Gooch.  The solution: Jonathan Spector. Plays left back for West Ham and is our most versatile defender.  If Cherundolo is healthy, they both play—Cherundolo on the right, Spector on the left.

Rogers, Hillcrest Road: I don’t know who is tops on Bradley’s depth chart, but I’m liking Pearce at that position right now. His play in the last couple of friendlies was really solid. He showed a great ability to contribute to the attack with smart, timely runs and great balls from the wing. Bocanegra is too solid in the middle, in my opinion, to put him on the left. Also, he seems to have trouble with speedier players, so putting him out there against Aaron Lennon, Shaun Wright-Phillips or Theo Walcott could spell trouble.
McKee, Spectator-Capped: Spector/Gooch/DeMerit/Boca! (ConfedCup lineup = best).  England will bring speed/skill regardless of our choice.  We need Boca’s headers in attack with LD10 and CD9 ahead of Boca – keep the game in their half to check England’s pace.  Cards/injuries? Use Dolo right, Spector left, Goodson center as needed.   Pearce? Bornstein – not convinced

Michelot, Ligue1Talk: I like Pearce. He’s “aged” well, as if MLS had given him new legs. He looked good against CONCACAF teams and he is better offensively than the other 2. Good balance between offense and defense. Play Boca in the middle where his lack of speed is less detrimental.

Arbogast, Notre Dame: Talk about choosing amongst unappealing options. Since you have to pick someone, I’m going with Bocanegra. Bereft of anything better, I’m going with experience and smarts to carry the day. With DeMerit’s rise, you can feel real good about your central defense even without Boca (assuming Onyewu is back and fit).

22 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by bw on 2010/03/18 at 6:26 AM

    haha, that picture of bornstein is brilliant. I agree with the confed cup lineup – Spector/Gooch/Demerit/Boca


  2. Posted by B-Mac on 2010/03/18 at 7:36 AM

    Put me down for Spector/(2 out of 3 of Demerit, Boca and Gooch), and Dolo. England definitely seems like they will go with pace on the right wing, so I’ll take my chance with Spector being better to lock down Lennon, SWP, or Walcott than Boca. With Gerrard likely on the Left Wing, I’ll take my chances with Dolo’s experience on Stevie G.


  3. For the ____ % of you that voted for Jonathan Bornstein…. HOW DARE YOU!


  4. Posted by Doug on 2010/03/18 at 8:02 AM

    I’ll say it – I’m one (of the two). I think most people were overly influenced by the Holland game. His mistakes there were glaring but that is Holland for goodness sake. None of our other options would have fared better and in fairness to JB, he had a bad day. On the whole he is our most experienced LB and fastest. Having said that, I won’t complain if Boxa or Spector get a start as well.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/18 at 8:15 AM

      For me, it wasn’t even the fact he got skinned. I just feel he is too naive. Prime example is the penalty. The contact was negligable, but was stupid. It’s hard enough these days that forwards are ‘looking or playing’ for contact, but with that invitation to treat, the offensive is goinf to RSVP every single time. The “I hardly-touched-him-ref” call is going to fall on deaf ears – by the letter of the law, the ref has no option.

      And if you want to track back a little further, one could argue that it was his original lack of position sense that caused him to be behind in the first place, prompting the naive foul.


    • I’m also influenced by his poor showing that gifted El Salvador a goal in qualifiers. Remember that mis-hit clearance the dropped in the box?

      JB (despite his heroics in DC.. I was there. It was magical) has proven to be a liability in the back. He lacks pace, proper decision-making skills (esp under pressure).

      Boca plays LB for his side… I’d rather have him on the sides (even if he isn’t as pacey) and then Gooch and DeMerit to cover center. Jay, Jay from the USA has proven to be the strongest, smartest option at CB that Coach Sweatpants has.


  5. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/18 at 8:06 AM

    Question: How two footed is Spector? I thought he was predominantly right footed, no? I can see whoever plays left back playing a little closer to the centre back to try to combat the through ball for the winger to exploit and get behind. By doing this, there is going to be a little more space on the wing – not sure that that would be best suited to a right-footed left back. But I also get it would be more difficult for a winger to cut inside (unless the ring winger is two footed).


    • Posted by B-Mac on 2010/03/18 at 8:14 AM

      Grant Wahl asked him about it the other day, here’s what Spector said: “I’m actually right-footed but comfortable on my left side as well. Defensively, playing the two outside-back positions is the same. There’s no difference positionally, and the 1-v-1 defending is the same. But going forward is a little bit different. I like to cut inside a little more on my right foot when I’m playing left back.”


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/18 at 9:52 AM

        Barring injury, he should be on the plane, but this smacks of “I’m versatile, Bob”. Can’t blame him to be fair…


    • Posted by Matt B on 2010/03/18 at 8:24 AM

      Given how poor the left back position has been for us since forever, I am willing to sacrifice a little bit in the attack for the best defensive left back. To me, that is either Spector or Bocanegra, depending on the opponent. I like Boca, but fear he is just too slow to play outside against England or other teams with speedy wingers. Part of the reason he excelled at left back against Spain is that they were not looking to attack from the wings. Aside from Sergio Ramos, they play extremely narrow and Boca was able to play a bit more inside. I can’t see it working quite as well against Lennon/Walcott/SWP. George, I’ve also got to ask how you feel about the P. Diddy buying Crystal Palace rumors


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/18 at 9:50 AM

        I saw that and had to double check my watch to make sure it wasn’t 1st April.


  6. Posted by KL on 2010/03/18 at 8:51 AM

    While I appreciate and respect all of the above opinions, I have to state emphatically that Johnny B. Good Bornstein should be no where near the pitch on June 12th. I fully support bringing him as a THIRD option, but do not support him getting a run out under any situation that doesn’t include a red card/an injury. To be perfectly honest, I’m not exactly sure who our best option is. There are so many extenuating circumstances that picking one definite is nearly impossible.

    For instance, with Landon’s unquestionable attention from other teams if we don’t have some sort of offensive threat to overlap in the attack there is no way we are going to get anything out of his side of the field. Let’s face it we attack on the wings. There is no way we are going to maintain possession and threaten through the middle. Further more assuming Dempsey plays opposite Donovan, we won’t have anything on the right either because we all know Dempsey likes to cut inside. The only way to fix this would be to have Stuart Holden in the center and able to roam out wide when Deuce tucks in. However, I don’t know if we want Michael Bradley paired up with Stuart Holden in the middle because how sure are we that the iceman is going to be able to handle that sort of defensive pressure. (quick note I am as big a fan of Holden as anyone else, I think he is the future of American soccer and is probably the most underrated player in North America.) Instead, I think we’ll probably an Edu, Bradley pairing in the middle with Demps and Lando on the wings. Now all of this has led to this point, Dolo should play as our outside back with Spector opposite him (Gooch and Demerit in the middle). I say this not because it’s the player I would like to see at that position the most, but instead because it would offer the best solution for what I think the midfield will look like. Both Dolo and Specs are great on the ball defenders, fast, have good positioning, and do well when moving into the attack. This offers the best solution to the blanket that was placed over Donovan and also helps even out our horizontal attacking in that it allows us to have more freedom to work both sides of the pitch.


    How crazy am I?


  7. Posted by Joe on 2010/03/18 at 9:21 AM

    No need to explain my disliking of JB. I think that Boca is our best bet at LB. I would rather have spector/boca than cherundolo/spector.
    Pearce is too slow but hes smart. Cherundolo is still coming off injury, how can we know he will be back to 100%.



  8. Posted by Doug Beard on 2010/03/18 at 9:38 AM

    Where’s the love for Dolo? Is it recovery from injury that is scaring everyone away?
    Does anyone work the flank out of the back like Stevie C? Surely we can at least admit he is our best crosser of the ball out of the back?
    Or am I blinded because I too am from San Diego? Wil I stop asking questions? Well, yes.
    I love his smarts, I love his positioning both on and off the ball, and nobody has been more consistant over the years whipping in driven crosses.
    Bocs must stay on the pitch to win headers off of set pieces in the offensive third. Sorry Specs… 2014.
    Dolo / Gooch / JayD / Bocs


    • Posted by Matt B on 2010/03/18 at 11:07 AM

      Totally agree on Dolo. I think he’s been the most underrated player in our pool for a few years. I’m not so sure he shouldn’t be the starting right back regardless of whether Spector is on the left.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/18 at 11:20 AM

        Okay — Matthew from TSG.

        Guilty! I voted for Bornstein…more on emotion, less on analytics (sort of out of character for me.)

        Bornstein to me has all the tools…he’s the Vince Young of the USMNT…he’s got all the tools and scored horribly on the Wonderlick test…when you put him in from time to time you see the visions of the future but then he has a 3 INT game and you’re back to square one.

        For me…whether through coaching or just his nature…Bornstein–and another reader said this after the Netherlands game more eloquently–plays scared and it compromises the ability he has…he’s got the ability to go forward…heck he started as a forward! Yet he does so tentatively and thus ineffectively.

        One things–and I think Tuesday pointed this out–on the 2nd Netherlands goal, Bornstein failed to close down the man with the ball electing to stay with his attacker.

        To me, that wasn’t because JB made a bonehead play…it’s because he is too scared to know when to go outside the system.

        He kills against poor competition (Hondo, El Sal) but then he doesn’t believe he has the chops against better competition.

        Anyway, I voted for him on emotion. If I had my choice, we would have seen Lichaj, Spector and other given a look at LB. I have a hard time putting Boca there *IF* Bob Bradley continues his speedy counterattack strategy from the left side. If that’s the case than Boca doesn’t help…a risk on Bornstein or more likely Pearce is better.


  9. Posted by chris on 2010/03/18 at 10:23 AM

    I think CNN got it right…this is on the front page right now



  10. Posted by Brazilian G on 2010/03/20 at 12:03 AM

    Jonny B sucks he is no world class player ya he scored 1 header goal in a game for US and 2 goals in the US vs holland game ,which the US lost !!! Heath Peace is the way to go hes got more caps then little Jonny ….. little Jonny go sit on bobby lap thats all your good for ………GO USA!!!


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/20 at 12:09 AM

      Welcome to TSG Brazilian G … good fan rap, but why do you favor Pearce or Boca in a cohesive argument?


      • why? you don’t have to be very smart in soccer to see that, the U.S.national team needs boca & Pearce, they lots of tallents compered with the others “boneheads” I’m not a “expert” but I did coated soccer for 19 years, my team went… (from 4th division 1st division in 4 years) or better yet… from “D” group to “A” so! Pearce should be a start up in the U.S. national team. Think about it.


  11. […] has reviewed this situation quite a bit. As it stands right now, there is likely a slight advantage to Jonathan Bornstein on […]


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