Question marks surround defense 

May, 27, 2010

In yesterday's post, we gave you two words to ponder -- versatility and cover -- when looking at U.S. head coach Bob Bradley's final roster choices. Today? We'll give you three integers that pertain to the Yanks' back line. This post is brought to you by the numbers 34, 1 and 15.

34: In his Soccer Power Index, Nate Silver has pointed out the United States' reputation for defense is undermined by its actual performances over the past year. The U.S. ranks only 34th in the world according to Nate's metrics, while ranking a surprising ninth in offense. While spectacular at times, for instance, the U.S. D has also had a penchant for allowing outbreaks of goals we call GAFS. One reason for this performance is a chronic lack of continuity on the back line, which leads to our next integer: the loneliest number.

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