Colorado Rapids youngster O’Neill learning defence on the job

Shane O’Neill admits he has been having to learn to play as a defender as he goes.

Shane O’Neill admits he has been having to learn to play as a defender as he goes.

The 20-year old Colorado Rapids talent started his career as a midfielder before being earmarked as a centre-back by USA U20 boss Tab Ramos which is where he played twice during the FIFA U20 World Cup last year.

Irish-born O’Neill says it has been a learning curb going from a ball-winning midfielder to a defensive stopper but feels he has improved out of sight the more he has played at centre-back.

“I’m just trying to learn as I go, no matter what position I’ve been playing, because I’ve been playing a little bit of right back, too, this year,” he told ussoccer.com.

“I’m just trying to stay solid and stay focused on the game, because when you’re put in different positions, sometimes it can get a little difficult because there hasn’t been too much consistency with it. But I definitely feel really comfortable at centre-back now having played there so much the last year.”

And O’Neill felt his time spent with the US senior team under Juergen Klinsmann during January’s trip to Brazil was of great benefit to his game.

“It was huge just being around those guys – Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Clarence Goodson – just learning so much about playing centre-back from those guys, about communication, how to play organized,” he added.

“I learned so much being around the coaching staff. It definitely was a huge learning experience for me – invaluable really. I think that stood out, just learning from the best players from the National Team.”

 
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