New U.S. back line is here to stay 

February, 6, 2013

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras -- In the immediate aftermath of the U.S. national team's disappointing 2-1 loss to Honduras in the opening game of the final round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup on Wednesday, it was easy to pin blame for the Americans' defeat on the inexperienced back line U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann threw into the fire against the Catrachos.

After all, it would have been hard to find a prematch lineup prediction that included promising young center back Omar Gonzalez, yet there was the 24-year-old L.A. Galaxy defender's name on Klinsmann's team sheet before the match at a raucous Estadio Olimpio Metropolitano, a move that -- despite the defeat -- undoubtedly signals a changing of the guard for the national team.

Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.