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Cameron coy on positional deployment, but preparing for centerback all the same

Geoff Cameron

photo by John Todd/


There has been a lot of talk and debate about what position Geoff Cameron should see time in at this summer’s World Cup, and now we might have an idea as to where exactly Jurgen Klinnsman envisions deploying his jack of all trades.

Klinsmann said Wednesday that he thinks Cameron’s best position is centerback, a not entirely surprising remark given but one that possibly sheds light into where Cameron is more likely to play once the U.S. Men’s National Team begins its pre-World Cup friendlies next week.

Cameron spent the majority of the past season with Stoke City at right back and enjoyed much success there. He also played in that spot in some recent matches with the U.S., but Klinsmann all that has still not convinced Klinsmann to deploy the versatile Cameron on the outside part of the defense rather than in the middle of it.

“I said over three years that I think his best position is centerback and it’s good to know that he can play right back, too,” said Klinsmann. “It’s good to know that he can play a (defensive midfield role), too. His best fit, I think, his best game for himself is the centerback role.”

The 28-year-old defender would not unveil to reporters on Thursday just what position he has spent more  during the U.S.’s pre-World Cup camp, but it sounds as if he is at least seeing some time at centerback. That was never unexpected given Klinsmann’s preference for fullbacks who can overlap and jump into the attack consistently, but means that the Americans’ starting centerback tandem could be Cameron and Matt Besler once the games get underway in Brazil next month.

“If the person is fast, slow, quick or does he like to step in early, do I have to cover his step in,” said Cameron of the process he uses to familiarize himself with centerback. “Just making sure if we’re communicating to each other. Is a guy falling off my right shoulder and I don’t know, is my right back talking to me telling me, ‘Hey there’s a guy behind, watch a cross.’

“Little things like that make a big difference and I think that’s where training and everybody getting comfortable with one another helps because the more you train with everybody the more comfortable you become.”

Cameron added that he played centerback for Stoke this past season, but only “a couple” of times. The lack of repetitions there now means he will likely have to play catch up in the comings weeks in order to iron out the kinks and develop chemistry in the heart of the U.S. defense, if that is where Klinsmann deploys him.

Omar Gonzalez and Besler have been the preferred tandem at centerback for much of the past year-and-a-half, but the former has made a number of errors in recent outings with the U.S. and that has raised concerns as to if he will be able to cope against the likes of Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, Germany stalwart Thomas Muller and Ghana’s ever-dangerous Asamoah Gyan in Group G action in a few weeks.

Cameron has not faced those players recently, but he has gone up and performed well against his fair share of talented Premiership attackers over the course of the past two seasons. While most of that time has come with him serving as a right back, he has shown in a pinch that he can be serviceable centrally as well. In fact, he was a first-choice centerback for Klinsmann earlier this cycle.

Now, Cameron just needs to familiarize himself with the position again in order to stake a claim for a starting spot in what will be the fist World Cup of his career.

“I’m taking that on board and if I’m playing centerback, I’m putting 150 percent in,” said Cameron of Klinsmann’s Wednesday comments. “For me, it doesn’t really matter. I’m very comfortable there. Just give me a few reps and the more you practice the more you get better at it, the more you feel comfortable, so for me, playing centerback is what I want (and) I want to be on the field, most importantly.

“If that’s what he sees, then I’m all for it.”


  1. OMG 3-5-2 Could actually work with us
    I believe the 5 is a diamond though.
    ——– Cameron—–Brooks—–Besler———-
    ———————– Dempsey———————

    ——– Cameron—–Brooks—–Besler———-
    ———————– Bradley———————

    ——– Cameron—–Brooks—–Besler———-
    ———————– Bedoya———————

  2. One of the mistakes I made about Yedlin is that I forgot that JK and Schmid are very close.

    Who knows Yedlin better than Sigi?

    Watching Bale on highlights today I remember that he started out as an attacking left back for Southampton. Maybe Yedlin or Chandler get a run out at wing back.

    • Evans just said in a brief interview that got tweeted out, that he played center back almost exclusively in camp.
      Considering he’s not the wing back type, this crazy theory may start to look a little more plausible inch by inch

  3. Been trying to make sense of this…and then it sorta clicked. Other than Green, there really aren’t any true wingers on the team. Bedoya plays CM for Nantes and prefers to tuck in rather than play wide. Davis doesn’t have the speed to really play the flank but he’s excellent dropping in dead balls, like a leftie David Beckham. Zusi plays either CM or LM/RM in a 4-3-3.

    Add to that, all the outside backs on the roster have one thing in common: they’re blazing fast, and a lot of them are outside back/winger hybrids who bomb forward down the flanks better than they defend.

    Klinsmann showed a diamond formation against Mexico, and it mostly worked and we certainly gunked up the middle of the park, but it broke down on the flanks because of a lack of speed at outside back…we were playing Beltran on one side and Parkhurst on the other. Those guys have been replaced by Fabian Johnson, Beasley, Chandler…and Yedlin.

    We’re in a blazing-fast group…and while the roster reads like it’s a classic 4-4-2, Klinsmann never has shown much liking for that. Especially with Cameron being cagey about his role, I think what we’re really looking at is more of a 3-5-2 in actuality, or even more like a 3-5-1-1 with Dempsey roaming all over the field where he pleases like he does in Seattle and Jozy to hold the ball up, or we could be looking at a 4-2-3-1 with Bradley and Jones in the holding roles.

    Regardless, the plan is going to be: gunk up the middle with midfielders or even an extra CB, and get our width from the speed of our outside backs. The dead giveaway is the inclusion of Yedlin, who is kind of a liability in outside defense…but who does have catch-up speed and can bomb forwards down the flanks.

    Considering how incredibly fast the group we’re in is, I definitely understand the idea. If we try to line up in a stock-standard 4-4-2 and punch with these guys, we’ll get out-talented.

    Donovan doesn’t fit. He’s either a pure winger…or he’s a #10, and that spot has been taken by Dempsey.

    Whatever, we’re not going to be playing with true wingers in this tournament. Which explains Klinsmann’s “Donovan’s a forward” comment…and explains a lot about his exclusion.

    • I think you have brought order to Jurgen’s madness. Excellent comment. I could not put it all together. I think that you have.

    • Interesting thoughts, the Quality of the backs don’t matter as much if they are mostly there to play Wing-back and not properly defend. Our “wingers” are very much hard grafters. Both Zusi and Bedoya do dirty work rather well.

      I hope we get a better idea of the set up from the friendlies. It could be totally different from qualifiers.

      First Vasquez now Donovan…. A lot of changes happening.

    • quozzel,

      Good analysis.

      Shea was always in the picture because of his flank presence so when he dropped out Green’s stock rose dramatically.

      In spite of his good Gold Cup we can now look back and remember that Landon’s success there came only after he moved inside off the wing where he was anonymous.
      Chander’s ability to play left back made Yedlin more realistic. And while DMB has lost pace like his brother LD, he can still overlap from the left especially if he has Fabian in midfield to cover him..

      Cameron/Chandler were vital in the makeup of the 23.

      I always felt Cameron would be moved inside because no US player is as dynamic attacking from the right flank as Chandler on an overlap.

      Even though Cameron has been shaky in his US games at CB that was probably due to inactivity there. Cameron is best when he is not pinned to a flank and can move around in the center of the field. Eventually, when Jones leaves Cameron move there. Or perhaps Jones will switch with Cameron.

      I remain skeptical of a straight diamond, with Mikey as the spear point. Mexico is not as defensively viscious as Ghana and they can shut down a single man at #10, which is the flaw of the diamond.

      So a 4-2-3- 1 remains most likely though if Cameron and Brooks really shine at center back in camp, some form of the 3-5-2 may emerge. Brooks, Cameron and Besler are all reasonably speedy and smart, good on the ball and that makes a 3 man backline more plausible.

      The first key is Brooks. If he has improved from that pathetic Ukraine embarrassment and is mobile and good on the ball then a three man back line and that leads us to the second key, flank players.

      Green, Yedlin, Chandler, bring speed and Fabian and Davis add a bit of culture. It will be left to Clint, Wondo, Jozy and AJ to finish up.

      • Ok, this is like telepathically freaky that I woke up and read what you guys wrote.
        Late last night I listened to the talking big head pundits podcast, and after the conspiracy theories when they broke down the rest of the roster selection.. for the first time I started thinking we may see a 5-3-2 deployed. Not in every game, but having it in the toolbox for a specific reason/opponent.
        With Cams flexibility in the middle, and this lineup’s makeup with speed at the outside backs… could explain some roster decisions, whether they’re seen as starters, backups, or role players

        Dude I’m having a twilight zone moment

      • After the Ukraine game I wrote Brooks off but then the reports indicated that he had gotten down to it and was playing very well.

        Then Chandler made the 30, giving JK a reason to move Cameron inside

        Then Gonzo was hurt, and even though he is there he must be behind the curve.

        Everyone has been skeptical about Gonzo anyway and everyone expected Green but the real red flag is Yedlin.

        I did not expect him in the 30, let alone the 23.

        So his main obvious attribute is his ability to attack with speed. And of course a three man back line means more guys for the attack or for flooding the midfield depending on what they want to do.

        I guess it comes to having as flexible and mobile a midfield as possible.Whether they are good enough to beat Ghana who are pretty scary themselves remains to be seen.

        The funny thing is this is shaping up to be pretty much the team JK said he wanted, playing a high line, able to pressure the enemy, go from defense to offense instantly, attack in numbers. This is shaping up to be a very exciting team.

        I just wish Landon could have gotten himself together early enough to be part of it.

      • Exactly, I agree. There were a few things last night that they said that just made me start thinking outside the box.
        – They were obsessed with how the overall lineup choices as a whole “just didn’t add up”
        – Harped on LD playing a mid spot
        – Why Yedlin ( for TT it was over Parkie, for Lalas it was over Evans)
        – Why Brooks over Goodson etc ( you get the picture)
        And they went so far in their conspiracy theories to relate Berti excluding Lothar Matteas bc he and JK had a falling out, and tied that to Donovans loan to Bayern and Herzogs firing…

        And I’m thinking… “What does any of this have to do with Green, Brooks, or Yedlin?” U see what I’m saying? It was like if Professor Mustard had a pipe in the kitchen he must have killed JFK….

        And then they obsessed about 2018, and TT posted an interview this am of JK back in 2010 talking about the future of US Soccer… and I’m thinking, In JKs world, contracts don’t mean sh!t.. u don’t produce, u get fired, this roster is about how to get out of this group…

        LD not a mid in that kinda lineup, he’s really competing for a true forward spot
        Outside backs with speed, period.
        Brooks’ athleticism… Cam’s versatility would make him a perfect fit in that formation…

        I don’t think it’s something we’ll see every game but I think it’s a real possibility we’ll see it at some point

      • Well to summarize, if this theory holds water it would go something like this:
        – JK thinks we need to be ready to play a 5-3-2 as one of our formations because
        A. It gives us a chance against the teams in our group
        B. He doesn’t have enough faith in our backline
        C. He can use our fastest players as wingbacks
        – would possibly explain why he insisted that he only saw LD as a forward on this team, that at this time he doesn’t see him as a midfielder in this type of formation
        – would explain why he’s been so secretive, and cut loose the 7 guys without telling them why
        – cut them loose earlier to give them more time to gel and figure this out
        – why the rookie speedster Yedlin made it over Parkie or Evans, cause they can’t play wingback
        – explain why Evans was playing center back in camp???
        – utilizes Cameron’s flexibility
        – would give more credence to his statements about LD only competing against Jozy, AJ, Deuce, and Wondo
        – thinks we need 2 forwards but can’t figure out the best midfield to go with it vs Ghana, Portugal and Germany?????
        – I read in an article yesterday that he’s done this before….

        That really just leaves the question mark of Evans… who I can’t explain

        A lot of evidence…
        Or maybe we all just need a bottle of Crown and a xanax..

      • I mean the question mark of Davis, not Evans…
        If he just sees him as a late game sub, possibly the 23rd roster spot..

      • hey Bac, I liked this thread from the start, just wasn’t commenting at the time it posted. great stuff quozzel, this is great discussion guys, thanks.

        I replied in other threads on LDs versatility to address this Bac, but in summary,

        with all of this very well stated above and excellent analysis imo, it still does not explain no LD, who can fit into schemes and is as versatile a player as there is in the pool, and who is a true X factor possibility and who is in form and knows how to win games and adapt and make plays all over the field. I love the youth and speed and playing high and attacking, but explains nothing regarding no LD imo.

        and perhaps there’s a reason there’s no soccer reason for it, and those things happen all the time too

        I don’t want anyone to get hurt, heck my whole life it feels like I’ve been injured from sports, but if Jurgen has the opportunity to do the right thing here I hope he does

      • Right Beachbum, so after reading this maybe you can see I wasn’t on the extreme of being a JK apologist, at the same time, not bashing LD either..
        Just saying this was “plausible”.
        If so, then the discussion comes down to 2 things:
        1. Does LD beat out Wondo or AJ. (Jozy as a holdup striker and Deuce were in no matter what.) So if you take JK at his word, Wondo and AJ were ahead of this assumption.
        2. Does he see LD as a midfielder in this kind of lineup… in this assumption.

        Now, both are absolutely debatable and up for interpretation, but as I’ve been saying, right or wrong, just a plausible possibility based on what I think HE thinks he’s doing is right.
        But we may never know.. now if someone gets hurt, and he doesn’t call LD in like he said he would do in public, then I’ll say I was wrong.. but it wasn’t because I was being an apologist, I had a different substance behind my opinion.

        Now IF it were ME, and this was the formation I want in my toolbox, based on today I’d have LD in instead of Davis, but I wouldn’t have him as a starter. But that’s just me. I’m ok with the other 22 if this is the strategy.

        Now if this is his strategy and he thought LD was forward #5? Debatable.
        If this was his strategy and he doesn’t see LD as a midfielder in this formation? Debatable but more acceptable
        If this was his strategy and Davis belongs over LD? That’s a mistake, no matter where he lines up, starter or bench… my opinion.

        The only criticism I’d give of LD, is his honesty may have hurt him this time. Maybe he thought he’d play it low-key on the interview/public front yet come in like gangbusters in person.. I don’t know if this is the case, just speculating, maybe that knocked him down a notch.. I don’t know. Even Twellman really took issue with this and hammered him on the podcast a few days ago, he said “I wanted to jump through the TV and grab him and say you’re Landon Donovan, the best ever, start acting like it.” (His words, not mine)
        But I still think at the end of the day, JK wants to win above all else.

        How JK and his staff truly rated him, I honestly don’t know, I don’t know what goes through his head, he can be a strange bird, or a secretive genius madman, or the next Herb Brooks… or the next Steve Sampson..

        Is this all BS? Maybe. But it offers a 3rd possibility other than this was purely personal or LD is whiney and over the hill and out of form and fitness… neither of which I said, but just quoted others…

        Sure I’ve thrown a few jabs here and there but in all seriousness I’ve been mature and level headed on SBI, so I can say I’m MOSTLY comfortable with being in the vast minority here, and don’t feel I fall into the “apologist” category, nor the “hater” category.

        Just my extremely looooong two cents…

      • Regarding your question about Davis:

        Why is it such a question in a 5-3-2 or 3-5-2? Davis’ limitation is his speed, which also translates into a liability in defending. But with someone like Chandler/FabJo covering the left flank as a wingback—i.e., covering the whole left side—Davis is largely freed from defensive duties and a bit less hampered by opponents because Chandler/FabJo will make overlapping runs.

        That leaves one Beckham-esque player on the field—I’m talking the Beckham of recent years, not the Great Beckham in his prime. A guy who is comparatively slow but smart enough to get open long enough to drop a deadly ball just about anywhere it’s needed.

        Davis makes little sense to me in a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1, even as a sub.

      • King, I’m not saying it doesn’t work, I coulda said it better.. I guess I could say it that I’d see Davis as #23, and in a short tourney would see other options before him in that formation.. and then if we went down and had to pull a CB for an extra attacker, I’d see other options also…

        I guess that’s a more complete way that I was looking at it. So I could have elaborated, but I already wrote a novel right????

        On the flipside, he’s having a good year, and is good in both possession and set pieces.

        From the outside looking in, he’d be the last 50/50 guy for me, with his specific role as a sub, probably in games after injuries or cards.
        I can’t remember if they go with an 18 man roster or are all 23 available, that’s how I’d predict it.

        But as always.. we’re on the outside looking in- not the other way around- left guessing with a beer for several more weeks.

      • Bac: that’s clear. I was just trying to illustrate how Davis could be seen as more than just the #23 hope-we-never-have-to-use guy. I was trying to think of how he would be preferred to start.

        Also, I looked up the FIFA rules a few weeks ago and posted them on another thread. For WC competitions, ALL 23 players are available for every match (excluding suspensions). Three of those players must be listed BEFORE the tournament as GKs and they are never allowed to play a field position. (But I don’t think there is any restriction against playing a field player as GK.)

      • Just saw the MLS article about Goodson’s comments about JK not telling him why he was left off the roster. He said JK wouldnt give him a reason, but would tell him After the world cup…
        Hmmm, sounds awfully suspicious… Does that add to the theory that he didnt want to tell anyone his gameplan for fear someone would leak it?

        And then the next article comes out with questions about experimenting with the backline during the friendlies and the first line is “Plenty, it turns out, and most of them are focused on the US team’s mysterious defensive lineup that at this point could go any way imaginable.”

        Is this just way too many coincidences or should Brad Metzler be covering the USMNT?

      • My girlfriend keeps asking me why I’m laughing at my Kindle this late at night, since English is her second language I can’t even try to explain why a chick is sitting on a urinal.. much less that I actually saw them in concert as a kid

  4. I totally saw the Yedlin for Evans switch coming. Klinsi isn’t waiting for 2018 to introduce the next generation. I’m excited/nervous to see what this team can do.

    • yes, and the fact that he went with Brooks over Goodson.

      Personally, I am not surprised about the Donovan exclusion since I haven’t seen him perform well in a while, but I would have liked to see pretty much anyone other than Davis. I also don’t think Green is at all ready, but we will see if he even makes the field. Will be most interesting to see what’s done with the wing positions.

    • Mr. pop,

      I read so many posts that say they come to SBI because the posts here were classier and more educated than those troglodytes over at GOAL or Big soccer.

      I’m glad to see that some of you are attempting to provide a counterpoint to that perception.that SBI is just loaded with classy, thoughtful, erudite, educated,and knowledgeable contributors

      It is always good to keep people from getting too full of themselves, yes?

      Keep up the good work..

  5. MLS just published the cuts. No LD (not super surprising). I’m just surprised Goodson was cut and looks like Boyd was beat out by Wondo. Wondo and Beckerman welcome to your first and last WC. Big ups to those guys.

    • I think having F. Johnson, Cameron and Beasley on the roster gives Klinsy more tactical flexibility since those guys can play in multiple positions. That may have determined why he kept Yedlin, and ditched Parkhurst, Edu and Goodson.

  6. I will miss Landon’s presence, but I am so mad at the trolls on this site who so assuredly disparaged me for saying that he would not start in WCup and there is only a 90 percent chance he would be on the plane. You people need to offer only informed opinions please.

    • Wow is right. LD being cut is going to make the headlines and it should. I don’t think he’s totally over his injuries because he must have been really outworked in camp by the younger boys. No Landon Donovan… US Soccer nation is speechless…

  7. If these are indeed the cuts. Davis over Donovan and wondo over Boyd are my only complaints and I’m shocked by this.

    • I’m not as shocked as you, but I mostly feel the same. I don’t think anyone predicted the seven cuts accurately…

    • Boyd just hasn’t had the benefit of time with the rest of the group. Maybe he still looks green in training? Still rough around the edges and surplus to requirements? Wondo is a wizard in the box, a true goal poacher. And he gets those crazy eyes when he scores or when he’s super pumped. Have you seen that? It’s like he’s taken over by the dark side. He’s been a consistent scorer in MLS for the last few years. He works his ass off and deserves a seat on the plane.

  8. Sure sounds like a guy is who is going to be playing CB. John Carter, not sure so much about Yedlin, bet perhaps Chandler and Parkhurst.

    • Not only that he names the 7 drops. How does he keep getting this info? He’s always right. Espn connection/power?

    • Sucks for Donovan I kinda saw that coming if its true. But I couldn’t be happier that Parkhurst ins’t in the 23. That guy is awful and past his prime. Sucks for Corona and Edu.

    • He’s lost some pace and a lot of fire unfortunately. There have been so many news items from him about how players can’t keep going 50+ games/year without burning out, etc. He’s clearly had one foot out the door for a little while. The dude can still play, but I think Klinsy is definitely looking into the future. AND, for whatever reason, those two can’t play nice. I think Klinsy took his sabbatical personally. We prob won’t see LD wearing the crest again. Kind of sad.

  9. If only we had a bunch of games to try these different positions last year, and see who fits best rather than stubbornly sticking with some guys who played regardless of results.

  10. I’d prefer him to partner with Bradley in the middle, but it is what it is. Jones is too erratic for my liking.

    Cameron playing CB increases the chances of Yedlin being on the roster, no?

    • It does answer the question, why was Yedlin included in the 30. 4 right backs seemed too many. ( Evans, Chandler, Yedlin, Cameron)

      • dennis,

        Chandler can be deployed at left and right back as well as right midfield as a wingback.

        When he first played left back for Klinsmann early on JK declared him the starter there.

    • Jones fell into a bit of a funk, where he wasn’t quite in his peak form. I have no basis to conclude if he is in or out of form right now. Six-months ago, I would have started Cameron @ DM with Bradley. If Jones is back, then great, he’s a work-horse that would carry the whole team on his shoulders if he had to. But I’ve worried about him over this last year. Unfortunately, we only have 1-Geoff Cameron and potentially 3-postitions that I may want him to fill in at.

      I wonder if Geoff Cameron can play left-winger??

    • 100 percent agree. I think Cameron is best suited for the center of the pitch. I think he adjusted to the fullback position but it is not his natural strong suit. He can play some great through balls. I am blanking on one of the friendlies he played CDM and he played a nice ball for an assist. He can get into the attack there.

      Bottom line, the guy is a pro. A very good soccer player. If he had to play keeper, I think he would learn and do decent. Good athlete. He needs to be on the field, one way or the other.


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