Is Omar Gonzalez still a lock to start for USMNT in Brazil?

Christian Petersen

The United States had to settle for a controversial draw against Mexico last night, after Eddie Johnson's great goal was wrongfully waved off for offside. Omar Gonzalez went the full ninety minutes, while Landon Donovan came in at the hour mark.

The United States had to settle for a controversial draw against Mexico last night, after Eddie Johnson's great goal was wrongfully waved off for offside. Omar Gonzalez went the full ninety minutes, while Landon Donovan came in at the hour mark. Gonzalez was one half of the US center back pairing for all of 2013, but some cracks in his game were exposed last night that are calling to question his ownership of the position.

Omar Gonzalez was the defender closest to the ball on both Mexico goals. On Rafa Marquez' goal Gonzalez got picked, and that left Marquez all alone for an open header seven yards out. Then on Alan Pulido's goal, Gonzalez was the closest to the player who stepped up to tap in the ricochet.

Landon Donovan didn't start, entering the pitch with the first wave of subs at the 59th minute. It was Donovan's 155th appearance with the national team, currently nine behind Cobi Jones. When Donovan did come in it was for Graham Zusi, who started as the right midfielder in a 4-4-2 diamond formation.

It was clear that Jurgen Klinsmann was trying to give the players on the bubble a chance to prove themselves. Players like Chris Wondolowski, Brad Davis, and Michael Parkhurst are no locks for the Brazil roster as of yet. Still Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Donovan haven't gotten much time together on the pitch in this lead up to the World Cup. The plan for the three of them interacting is still an unknown.

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There's no denying that Gonzalez is above average at fundamentals. Those ten clearances, blocks, and interceptions correlate with his heat map. As a defender he covers a lot of ground, and he's ending possessions anywhere he goes. It's his awareness that lets him down; experienced attackers have proven capable of losing him in big moments.

When Donovan came in he took corner kicks, but from the run of play his lone contribution was penetrating deep and earning fouls. Not that his counterpart in Graham Zusi fared much better, only managing one key pass at the top of the penalty area from the run of play in his sixty minutes of work.

It's very tempting to jump to conclusions, especially after a controversial draw against the continental rival. Jurgen Klinsmann does have some decisions to make, but it's essentially a lock that Gonzalez and Donovan will be on the roster of players going to Brazil this summer.

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