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SBI’s 2009 MLS Defender of the Year: Geoff Cameron

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There aren't many players in MLS more versatile than Geoff Cameron, and this year, there were no defenders who were better.

When Houston's defense reached a critical moment of transition, Dynamo head coach Dom Kinnear turned to Cameron to help anchor the back-line early in the season and all Cameron did was respond with dominant form few could have expected from the 2008 Rookie of the Year candidate. Cameron's combination of size, speed, tenacity and skill made him a terror for opposing offenses to deal with and helped the Dynamo get off to an 8-2-3 start with seven shutouts in the first half of the season.

There were other candidates for the honor, such as Columbus' Chad Marshall, Chicago's Wilman Conde and Seattle's Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, but neither Marshall or Conde played 20 games this year because of injuries, and Hurtado had the benefit of playing alongside veteran Tyrone Marshall, who will garner his share of defender of the year votes as well.

It is true that Cameron saw time in midfield for the Dynamo, but he still managed to play 22 of his 29 matches in central defense and only made the move to midfield after the Dynamo acquired Ryan Cochrane. Cameron may not see much playing time as a defender come the playoffs, but that doesn't take away from his body of work as a defender in 2009, which we think was the best in the league.


  1. IMO, the most underrated defender and perhaps player in the league is Jamison Olave. The guy should definitely be in the discussion for defensive POY. He missed several games this year with suspension and injury and RSL struggled mightily every time. He is so big and physical yet fast that many times he draws the ire of officials for simple shoulder to shoulder challenges and gets many unwarranted cards.

    However, if you polled all of the offensive players in the league about who is the most physically gifted and best one on one defender in MLS Olave would be on top. He and Borchers are the best center back tandem in MLS. Not only is the guy 6’2″ and over 200 lbs but he may be the fastest guy in the league. He truly is a beast that few people ever talk about.

  2. Guys, Cameron is a bit raw but has the highest upside in terms of physical ability and skill of any central defender in the US pool. If he stays at centerback and gets games in, he could make the South Africa roster – in my opinion. Although I would have thought Bradley would have called him up for the Gold Cup, but maybe he didn’t want to take any more players off of the Dynamo.

    I don’t see any centerback in MLS who had a better season.

  3. I think he has a year or two on his contract…then he’ll be on his way to europe and be able to make the money he deserves. When your paying guys like Cameron, Holden,and Larenowitz 30-35k what do you expect them to do. It seems like rookies are getting a lil more now when they come into MLS but how are you suppose to nuture young up and coming stars when you don’t pay them enough to even support a family.

  4. He is the best defender on his team. Boswell has been mediocre. Cameron has been the most solid and consistent defenders in the league and should have been called up to the Gold Cup. Marshall might be a better defender but this year Cameron played more and better.

  5. Bobby B is the defender on the Dynamo who scares me most. If you look at the home game against Pachuca you’ll see how he not only makes some poor choices; but he is also not able to make up for those choices, unlike Cameron. I have watched every game this year, and besides Julius James, Boswell has been one of the teams bigger defensive weakness’s. I’m not saying he isn’t important to the team, nor am I saying he is bad, only that Cameron and Hainault have played better in defense.

  6. Best defender?

    C’mon Ives. The guy isn’t even the best defender on his squad.

    He’s incredibly versatile and I imagine one day will end up permanently in the midfield. But he is not the MLS’ best defender.

  7. Cameron is still raw, but as a midfielder or a defender, he could easily play at the top level in Europe in a couple of years.

    I’ll not comment on criticism of his marking because I didn’t see enough games to be aware of how serious an issue it is. But his movement off the ball is exceptional by MLS standards and his technical ability’s impressive, too.

  8. Nope…though recovery is a critical skill, it does substitute for or “dominate” (for lack of better word) over the rest: positional sense, tackling, passing, etc. There are still too many holes in his game for him to be a good defender, let alone Defender of the Year.

    A counter Q is Mike Parkhurst – he’s small and discrete, yet I would argue highly effective; a US/poor man’s version of Fabio Cannavaro. Did he ever win MLS Def of Year?

  9. I haven’t seen enough of him to comment truthfully. But how does this award NOT go to Marc Burch!? He was pivotal in United’s success this year, pivotal.

  10. Funny, I was about to post recommending Bobby Boswell for DOTY instead of Cameron he was so ridiculously steady all year. Sure, Geoff made the daring runs to catch and win the ball from speedy attackers, but Boswell totally neutralized every forward he was assigned to all season. And he still had time to cover for other defenders, all while averaging 1 foul per game. He played 29 games, missing the 1 for yellow card accumulation.

    Sure, not as sexy as the Cameron pick, but just as important to the best defense in the league.

  11. “In fact, I would even argue that there have been occasions when the work that gets praise is based on his making up for his own errors.”

    Isn’t that what actually MAKES a really good defender? Not entirely of course, but getting beat then recovering to make the play is something most defenders can’t or don’t do.

  12. lets be honest, ives. cameron is another bobby boswell – flash in the pan. everyon was hangin all over boswell’s junk for being a steady defender on arguably the best team that season. cameron is a nice surprise, but not the top defender. he will be regarded as average at best in a few years time, just as boswell is.

  13. G. Cameron, a guy who isn’t even a defender in his coaches mind?

    my vote goes to Johnny B. who anchored a Chivas back line including time in the middle, and led them to one of two teams who finished with less than a goal average a game.

  14. Ives, are you serious? Though versatile & athletic, Cameron is not close to being a finished article. Like Bornstein, I see too many instances of letting men go by, being woefully out of position, bad tackling, etc.

    In fact, I would even argue that there have been occasions when the work that gets praise is based on his making up for his own errors.

    I would prefer that we think of defenders as the Italians do….like accountants – tidy, discrete, first not making mess.

    For the record, I am a Dynamo fan and attend & watch many games….I am not yet sold that he can be a good defender. Of course, I pray that I am wrong (I am a homer) but…


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