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Geoff Cameron steps into leadership role in USMNT rout of Guatemala

Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports
Photo by Trevor Ruszkowski/USA Today Sports

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Geoff Cameron made a big impact in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s lopsided win over Guatemala, but it was not just the goal he set up or the one he scored that helped his side enjoy such a strong performance.

The U.S. got back on track in World Cup Qualifying on Tuesday night by clobbering Guatemala, 4-0, in a game at Mapfre Stadium that was every bit as one-sided as the scoreline indicated. The Americans not only came out buzzing in the attack right from the start, but were also instantaneously suffocating on the defensive side. Guatemala finished the match with just four shots, and only one of them was on target.

The strong showing at the back was a welcome change from the drab first-half effort that set the tone for the U.S.’s stunning 2-0 qualifying loss to Los Chapines last week, and Cameron played a big part in Tuesday’s bounce-back game.

Shifted from right back to his preferred centerback spot for the rematch vs. Guatemala, the versatile veteran had a key role in the build-up to Clint Dempsey’s 12th-minute winner and netted on a header 10 minutes before halftime. Cameron was also stout in his positioning and individual battles, but just as important was his ability to serve as a leader to an unfamiliar back four that included DeAndre Yedlin, Steve Birnbaum, and Edgar Castillo.

“I’m trying to stay positive and encourage people, and help with my experience playing over in England and playing against these players,” said Cameron. “It’s different playing against these Central American guys, but I’ve been through the whole process of World Cup Qualifying before when I was a young kid. (Former U.S. players) Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo and all those guys were there to kind of help me get experience and give me some exposure.

“Anyway I can (I will) do that to help these guys, because it’s a long road. You never know what’s going to happen, and if you can get guys experience and feel comfortable in these big games like this, it’s fantastic.”

U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann pointed out Cameron’s contributions following Tuesday’s lopsided win by saying that the 30-year-old defender is growing “more and more in a leader role.” That is good news for the Americans, who have not had a de facto organizer at the back since Bocanegra fell out of the picture back in 2013.

Yes, the U.S. has had Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, John Brooks, and Cameron take turns leading the way since then, but the latter might be best-suited to be the defensive centerpiece. Cameron is the most experienced of that bunch with 39 caps to his name, and is also playing at arguably the highest level with Stoke City in the English Premier League.

His experience has shone through recently, as evidenced by the three international goals he has scored since last October, and it proved helpful in Tuesday’s shutout victory.

“He was kind of guiding me the whole time, talking to me, and he was great,” said centerback partner Birnbaum, who was playing in just his fourth game for the U.S. and first qualifier. “He had a great game tonight and was really solid and able to talk to me through the whole game.”

Cameron did not just guide the back line. He also made an impact on the offensive end, first by clipping a pass into the penalty area that resulted in Dempsey’s early winner and then by nodding home a Michael Bradley free kick in the 35th minute.

Dempsey’s decisive strike was the result of some good fortune because the ball smacked off Gyasi Zardes and into the path of the Seattle Sounders forward, but it was also the product of Cameron’s willingness to try and connect from deep.

“I just saw Gyasi making a good run and I just got the ball and I tried to nip it in behind,” said Cameron. “The two defenders read it, but that’s what happens. (Zardes) challenged the ball, it bounced out to Clint, and he put it in the back of the net. I think what’s one of my strengths, if I’m playing centerback, is you can hit those balls and kind of see things in front of you a little bit more.”

Cameron is seeing plenty of time at centerback at Stoke City these days, and that combined with his 90-minute shift vs. Guatemala will make a good case for him to remain at that position for the U.S. in the upcoming Copa America Centenario and remaining World Cup Qualifiers.

He is all for that as well. Not just because he prefers playing centrally, but because he is finding himself as more of a leader than ever before.

“It was great to get out there and obviously communicate, keep the line high, talking to guys in front of me, and just trying to make it organized to make our life easy and make the game easier for us,” said Cameron.


  1. The problem with Cameron is that he will be 32 when the WC rolls around. Two more EPL seasons plus qualification plus Copa America plus Gold Cup plus sundry friendlies is a lot of wear and tear for somebody on the wrong side of 30.

    • He is currently in and will still be in his prime as a CB at the WC. As long as he can improve or the very least maintain the tactical side and his soccer IQ he’ll be just fine.

      Unless of course you think we’ll be out possessed at the WC, and be ball chasing +80 minutes, in which case we got bigger issues than Cameron’s age.

      • 32 is not in anybody’s prime and a 32 year old at any position is the exception, not the rule, at the World Cup.

  2. I would prefer more athletic defenders and thought Omar was a mistake. However, the problem with Cameron has always been positioning naivete and diving in against a higher level opponent. Guate does not resolve that. As with the general backline problem, the question is consistency and doing it next time.

    We have fallen for Cameron before.

    I do find the #6 talk interesting because we have a serious “succession” issue with the next generation there. Jones, Bradley, and Beckerman are all older players and may not make it to Russia. Williams is not good enough. Diskerud wants to be a 10 not a 6 and is arguably not suited anyway. So what is the future? But then maybe we should have been resolving this first two years of the cycle not back half. Concerns about CDM and backline.

    • All of those issues were due to the reason that despite having all the qualitites of a good, modern CB, Tony Pulis never played Cameron at CB. As long as he keeps playing CB at the new Stokalona, or even DM, we shouldnt be seeing those same problems. Remember, this is the same Cameron who’s been doing this all year now in the EPL, and who single handedly shut down Man City. Granted that was from the DM spot, but he played that role almost identically to his CB one last night (due to the extremely high line the US was playing)

    • “We have fallen for Cameron before”

      Yep, i hate to say it, but it’s impossible for me to forget the portugal game. Both goals were on Geoff.

      • well if M Bradley hadn’t given the ball away so cheaply in midfield we wouldnt be having this conversation. If i remember correctly on that goal, the scorer outran FabJo from the touchline and cut inside, Fabian didnt open his mouth to warn Geoff and well, you know the rest.

    • I’m with you on this one Beto, He may be our best CDM and CB but i think with this team his talents would be best served as CDM considering our depth at the CB position. Between Gonzalez, Birnbaum, Besler, JAB(even Orozco), Miazga coming through and Alvarado(smh, i know) i think we can afford to play Geoff in the midfield. His composure on the ball, knowing when to get forward, his toughness and overall control in certain situations is impressive. I saw that Stoke-Man City game where he played CDM and i can honestly say that he was the best player on the field, i thinkhe won man of the match and Stoke won 3-0. If JK prefers to play MB90 higher up the field then it should be Cameron handling that central spot.

  3. Great game from Geoff. Please, please get Gyasi off the field. One of his first touches went about 10 yards! I’d like to see Finlay, Nagbe, or, heck, even Pulisic play in that spot.


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