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ASN Weekly Debate

Who Will Be the USMNT Breakout Star in 2013?

2012 saw Graham Zusi, Geoff Cameron, and Eddie Johnson explode on to or back on to the national team scene. Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon debate who has the inside track for the honor in 2013.
BY Noah Davis and Ryan O'Hanlon Posted
January 11, 2013
7:23 AM
Noah Davis: Ryan, give me your 2013 USMNT Breakout Player of the Year, Eddie Johnson edition. A guy who is on the fringes of the team, maybe played a bit, maybe not, but will have a much bigger role in the coming 12 months.

Ryan O'Hanlon:  Does Stuart Holden count? Because I'd really like the answer for this to be Stuart Holden.

Davis: Sure.

O'Hanlon: Then, yes. Stuart Holden. He's inching back to health—might even play for Bolton's first team in their next FA Cup match—and even if he's not "Before Injury Stuart Holden Who The Guardian Voted As The Best Player in The EPL," I think he'll still be "Stuart Holden Enough" to play an important role on this team.

Davis: Stuart Holden, G.O.A.T. is so much easier to type.

O'Hanlon: No one says GOAT anymore, it's BOAT, now.

Davis: Whatever the kids these days are saying. But I see your point. I think it's a possibility, but I'm going to go with another midfielder: Sacha Kljestan. He's basically Holden, only he's been playing the last 18 months instead of recovering.

O'Hanlon: That was going to be my other suggestion, but it seems like a pretty safe bet, and I dunno, I guess I'm more of a risk taker than you and just generally look to live a more fulfilling life.

Davis: I just didn't want to put pressure on a guy who hasn't played a game in a year and a half and has a history of injury problems. Sorry for caring. Sacha is a rather cop-out pick, though. Can I say Eddie Johnson wins the award two years in a row?

O'Hanlon: Would he have to disappear and then come back? Or just keep doing what he did to end the year? I'm also going to throw an Oguchi Onyewu dart at the Eddie Johnson board.

Davis: That's a big dart. Onyewu is an interesting candidate, if only because no one seems to have any concrete information on anything regarding his play, his club situation, or anything else. But I think there's a better chance that one of the new centerback options steps up over the next few months than that Onyewu returns to his 2007ish form (which, let's be honest, wasn't the most confidence-inspiring thing anyway). That leads to my next question, which is: 2013 USMNT Breakout Player of the Year, Graham Zusi/Geoff Cameron edition for the player who turns a solid January camp into significant playing time for the rest of the year.

O'Hanlon: The easy and comforting answer is probably Omar Gonzalez, but I don't want to steal your answer, so I'll say Josh Gatt—he started the Russia game, so he's clearly somewhere above-middle on the pecking order—and because this team doesn't really seem to have any wingers.

Davis: There's definitely a place for Gatt on the team. The prospect of him coming in late in the game and using his speed for 20 minutes is pretty tantalizing. Get that kid to Mexico City. I was going to say a centerback but not Gonzalez. I have a feeling this is Matt Besler's year. He's just so, so solid.

O'Hanlon: So, "Besler Bests Gonzalez For Starting Birth" is your headline for some time in 2013 in an alternate universe where newspapers publish stories about USMNT lineups?

Davis: Berth, but yes.

O'Hanlon: Matt Besler will have a child before Omar Gonzalez.

Davis: Anyway, I'm all aboard the Besler bandwagon. It's pretty empty so far.

O'Hanlon: I can get behind/possibly on it. Another possibility: Juan Agudelo. He played well against Russia, and he seems like another one of those guys who is just so much better when he's playing with other good players. Could he, actually, win both the Eddie Johnson and Zusi-Cameron Awards?

Davis: That would be an unprecedented double in the history of these awards that I made up yesterday. Final question: Give me the list of names of players who are on the roster for Honduras that are currently in camp.

O'Hanlon: The answers: Besler, Zusi, Gatt, Agudelo, and Eddie Johnson. I am sticking by my this-will-not-affect-the-Honduras-roster-even-though-all-signs-point-to-me-being-wrong guns. What do you say?

Davis: Why does only Eddie get a first name? And you don't think Gonzalez goes? I think it's more: Besler, Gonzalez, Beckerman, Diskerud, Gatt, Zusi, Agudelo, Johnson.

O'Hanlon: Johnson is a common name. "Eddie" specifies that I'm not talking about "Randall" or "Corey" or "Cory." And Gonzalez definitely might, but will both he and Besler go? I'm thinking only one does.

Davis: Besler bandwagon!

O'Hanlon: You can drive. For now, I'll be sitting on a skateboard, tied to the axle.

Davis: You rebel, you.

Ednote (from John Godfrey): Noah and Ryan have had their say. Now we want to hear your take. Share your prediction(s) below, and try not to ramble as much as those two.

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