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Jurgen Klinsmann happy with new-found defensive depth

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United States still searching for ideal center back combination as vital qualifiers loom
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United States still searching for ideal center back combination as vital qualifiers loom

For much of his tenure, Jurgen Klinsmann has had to worry about his defensive depth, particularly at center back. Heading into his team's five-game stretch in May and June, however, Klinsmann appears to be much more optimistic.

“Over the last year I think we’ve stepped it up in terms of competition for the two center back positions," Klinsmann said in a Q&A posted on the U.S. Soccer website.

Klinsmann named Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, and Clarence Goodson as center backs on his team's roster for friendlies against Belgium and Germany, followed by World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras.

Gonzalez and Cameron have made strong cases for starting spots, while Besler performed extremely well in a spot-start against Mexico at the Azteca Stadium. Goodson, for his part, played well in a start against Costa Rica in the blizzard match in Denver.

"I think Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler did an amazing jump, especially with the game they played in Estadio Azteca in our tie in Mexico, and also with their club teams," Klinsmann said. "Geoff Cameron has established himself as a starter at Stoke City in his first year there and has been doing really well. Then we have Clarence Goodson, who’s really an example of consistency."

Klinsmann was so enthused by his center back depth, in fact, that he again left former captain Carlos Bocanegra off the roster, despite the fact he's been seeing regular minutes at Racing Santander recently.

"He knows that if anything happens to one of those center backs that he’ll get called in right away," Klinsmann said of Bocanegra. "But I think we are blessed with our center back position."

At the outside back spots, Klinsmann was also able to leave off a stalwart in Hannover's Steve Cherundolo. Though he returned from a long-term injury in early April, Klinsmann said he just was not ready, and called in Augsburg's Michael Parkhurst instead.

"Steve Cherundolo is still recovering from an injury and he simply needs time for his knee to get back to 100 percent," Klinsmann said. "Michael Parkhurst has had injuries and his team is still fighting relegation in Germany, but is very experienced. He is ready to give us everything he has.”

Much like center back, left back used to be a problematic spot for the Yanks, but now appears to be a position of strength, with Fabian Johnson, Edgar Castillo and DaMarcus Beasley all solid options.

"We are loaded in that position now and it’s looking pretty good," Klinsmann said.

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