As Matthew from The Shin Guardian pointed out on twitter last night, the US has recorded three consecutive clean sheets for the first time since 2008. The US started the streak once Eric Lichaj became the starting left back and Carlos Bocanegra bumped inside to center back.
Since I was slightly bored after last night’s game, I decided to look over Bob Bradley’s tenure (since 2007) and see how the USMNT has done with Bocanegra starting at center back vs. starting at left back.
Since 2007, Bocanegra has made 49 starts for the US, including last night’s 1-0 victory. Of those 49 starts, he has been at left back in 12 games compared to 37 games at center back.
In those 12 games as starting left back, the US is 5-3-4 (.583) and has conceded 16 goals (1.33 goals per game). In his 37 games as a starting center back, the US is 24-10-3 (.689) and has conceded 36 goals (0.97 goals per game).
From that sample of data, the US has been slightly better with the captain lining up in the center to start the game. One thing I did notice while going over the games, Bocanegra has been called upon to start at left back against a lot of “bigger names” (i.e. Brazil, Argentina, England, etc.) since the depth at center back (Gooch & DeMerit) has been a little better than the question mark at left back. So of course the US is going to do worse against those teams than games against Cuba or Barbados.
But from my own personal preference, especially at his current age, I would like him at center back if there is a viable left back option, and we might just have that with Eric Lichaj.