Yesterday, Spain smoked the United States 4-0 in the final international friendly leading up to the 2011 Gold Cup that starts this week. Some of the goals were pure class from the country that currently holds the title of Best In The World. Other goals were the result of some weak defending from the Americans.
This got me thinking about my prior claim that two of D.C. United's young defenders Perry Kitchen and Ethan White will be competing for spots on the U.S. World Cup roster in 7 and 11 years. Kitchen and White just shut out the MLS-leading Los Angeles Galaxy, and have given up just four goals in the previous five matches since they've both been in the starting lineup. That's a lot better than giving up four goals in one friendly.
Obviously this perspective is largely flawed. Mike Magee is no Santi Cazorla. But there's plenty about Kitchen and White that remind me of the U.S. central defensive pairing of Tim Ream and Uguchi Onyewu that Bob Bradley used against Spain. And if the two young defenders remain together in D.C., they could be even better in the future.
The talk leading up to the 2011 MLS Draft was that Kitchen would be this year's Ream, meaning that he'd be his team's mistake-free defensive leader from Day 1. Well he's been the leader of United's defense, no doubt, but he's not exactly been mistake-free. That's okay though. We need to keep in mind that Ream was 22 when his MLS career began. He finished a full four years of college at Saint Louis University. Kitchen is just 19, having left the University of Akron after his freshman year. I have full confidence that the future 23-year old Kitchen will be better than the current 23-year old Ream.
White and Onyewu have more in common than just being two black dudes from Montgomery County Maryland. They've both been involved with the U.S. Soccer program since their teenage years, and they both know how to use their size to play a physical style of defense. White is listed at 6'-0", which is five inches shorter than Onyewu's towering height. He won't have quite the size advantage over opposing attackers that Onyewu typically possesses, but he does have the strength. White is built thick.
Kitchen and White collected a trophy together for the U.S. at the 2010 Milk Cup. They'll collect a trophy together again within the next few years with D.C. United. And they could be fighting for a trophy together again in Qatar.