With the European and Mexican-based players in Miami this week for the transition camp having completed their club seasons, ussoccer.com will review their individual campaigns ahead of the selection of the Copa America Centenario roster. Yesterday, we covered the goalkeepers. Today, we continue with the defenders.
Ventura Alvarado (Club America): Alvarado helped America to a strong start to the Clausura campaign, anchoring a defense that kept two clean sheets. While he played mostly as substitute role in the latter part of the season, a start in the CONCACAF Champions League Final first leg helped American to a 2-0 advantage en route to the winning the title. America is currently in the semifinals of the Liga MX playoffs.
John Brooks (Hertha Berlin): Brooks enjoyed a productive season for his hometown club. To go along with double digit clean sheets, Brooks scored two goals, including the game winner in an important 2-1 win against Bayer Leverkusen. Hertha finished seventh in the Bundesliga, good enough for a berth into next season's Europa League.
Geoff Cameron (Stoke City): With a more attacking brand of football needing an especially solid defense, Geoff Cameron is a mainstay in the back at the Britannia Stadium. Cameron appeared 30 times this season for Stoke, who finished in the top half of the table. In cup competition, he helped Stoke progress to the semifinal of the Capital One Cup, the highest finish Stoke fans have seen in that competition since the 1970s.
Edgar Castillo (Monterrey): Monterrey finished top of the table in that Clausura, and Castillo was a big part of the defense that helped the side to a league-high 12 wins. Castillo contributed to four clean sheets and was influential in the Monterrey's powerful attack. He scored in a 5-1 route of Veracruz and set up the third goal in the first leg of the quarterfinal playoff victory against U.A.N.L.
Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt): After enduring a difficult beginning of the season due to injury, Chandler enjoyed some fine form later in the campaign. Coming on as a substitute, Chandler put in a crucial shift in the last half hour of Frankfurt's important 1-0 win against Borussia Dortmund in May. The win kept their Bundesliga survival effort afloat as they now enter into a two-leg playoff against his former club, 1. FC Nürnberg.
Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca): Having joined Pachuca in the winter, Gonzalez made an immediate impact. He was a key figure in the Pachuca defense this term, a group that tied for the least goals allowed in the league. Also a constant threat to find a goal from set pieces, González salvaged an important point with an 88th minute equalizer against U.A.N.L in February.
Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest): In the physical marathon of the English Championship, Lichaj started 43 of 46 games and helped tally 11 clean sheets for a Forest team that had one the better defenses in the league. Lichaj also contributed going forward, scoring one goal and ushering in three assists. Forest finished 16th, 15 points in the clear.
Matt Miazga (Chelsea FC): Following a successful season in Major League Soccer, Miazga made his move to Premier League giants Chelsea. Miazga wasted no time getting noticed at Stamford Bridge, making the bench as an unused substitute in their Champions League match against Paris Saint-Germain. He went on to make his Premier League debut against Aston Villa in April, a 4-0 win for the Blues.
Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana): Orozco was a constant fixture in the Apertura during the fall, featuring 15 times. Though finding league appearances difficult to come by this spring with the change of coaches, Orozco was an important mainstay in Tijuana's run to a quarterfinal finish in the Copa MX.
Tim Ream (Fulham): After moving from Bolton in the summer, Ream's versatility was put to the test for Fulham. Used at both left back and center back, Ream made 27 league starts, including a crucial stretch in April with wins against Preston North End and MK Dons which helped keep Fulham in the Championship for another year.
DeAndre Yedlin (Sunderland): Perennial relegation battlers Sunderland once again made the Great Escape thanks in large part to DeAndre Yedlin. On loan from parent club Tottenham, he became a more cultured right back through consistent starts. Yedlin put in a few massive performances to help keep Sunderland safe. In a true six-pointer, Yedlin and company kept Norwich at bay in a 3-0 win and on the brink of safety, Yedlin set up the game-winning goal in 3-2 win against Chelsea.