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Geoff Cameron: ‘Bruce Arena made decisions that cost us going to the World Cup’

In the aftermath of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s World Cup qualification failure, Geoff Cameron has fired some scathing remarks at his former head coach.

In an interview with the New York Times, the Stoke City defender was very critical of former USMNT boss Bruce Arena, who opted to bench Cameron for the USMNT’s final two qualifiers. The first was a complete 4-0 battering of Panama. The second was the now-infamous 2-1 loss at Trinidad & Tobago that ruined the team’s World Cup hopes.

 “Bruce Arena made decisions that cost us going to the World Cup,” Cameron told the New York Times. “And I don’t have a problem saying it, because we had the right group of guys.

“Our names will go down as the team that didn’t qualify,” Cameron said. “It’s on us as players, but at the end of the day, I’m convinced if they would have kept Jurgen (Klinsmann) and not done such a drastic change, I think we would have qualified. I know we would have qualified. Instead we’ve gone backward.”

Cameron continued by saying that Arena didn’t like his “bluntness”. Since the USMNT’s loss, Arena has stated that Cameron was left on the bench due to a lack of fitness as he looked to return from an injury

The defender counters that account by pointing to the fact that he played 90 minutes the week before qualifiers began while still with Stoke City.

“Listen: I hold my hand up — I didn’t play well against Costa Rica,” Cameron said. “I made a mistake; their second goal was my fault. But it was the 88th minute and we were down 1-0. I tried to do something to help the team and I got caught out.

“But I would have more respect for a coach to say: ‘You know what, Geoff? I don’t fancy you today. I think this is a better lineup.’ I’d say: ‘O.K., no problem, you told me the truth.’ But if you tell me I’m not fit enough, that’s like an insult to me as a professional.”

When questioned about the team recently, Arena pointed to a couple of “bad eggs” and, when asked by the New York Times, he said that “you’ll read about one of them in the next day or two in The New York Times”.

“Could Geoff have been in the starting lineup that day? Yes,” Arena told the New York Times. “But the problem with Geoff throughout 2017, at club and national-team level, was inconsistency and some injuries.

“Geoff started five games starting in November 2016 through October 2017. Our record was 1-3-1 — that plays a role. I don’t think 2017 was that impressive of a performance for the player. When the stars and the moon and the sun are aligned properly, Geoff is a very good player. They don’t all align properly all the time.”


  1. Not a huge fan of Cameron, but in this instance, Bruce Arena is so annoyingly wrong that he deserves everything Cameron said about him and then some. It’s pretty amazing for BA to blame the T&T fiasco on “bad eggs” who were sitting on the bench.

  2. I used to like Cameron before i found out what a douche he is. he’s been playing like crap for over a year and he wants to blame Arena for his poor form. lol. might as well blame Donald Trump…

  3. The endless tinkering with the back 4 was what doomed the US. We simply conceded too many goals. Some of that was JK’s penchant for constant change, some was Arena’s changes and some was just poor luck with injuries. No amount of what-ifs will change things.

    A consistently healthy back 4 and coaches that did not tinker with the back line in important games would have gone a long way in preventing so many goals.

  4. this sums it up best for me….it definitely came down to arrogance and sadly once they knew they were in a fight they failed to show anything resembling a team wanting to play in a WC

  5. IIRC BA told the press at the time of the qualifiers that Cameron was still not fit and that’s why he wasn’t played. According to his rebuttal to Cameron here he talks about inconsistency and a bad record with Cameron in the lineup as part of the reason he wasn’t played.

    Most of us already inferred this here, but what this really means is BA rated OG ahead of Cameron and fitness was just a cover to not have to deal with the press and fans on why he’s benching a PL starter. When your manager is so blind at rating players that he rates LigaMX starters or PL starters and fails to call in Bundesliga starters in favor of MLS lifers we have a problem at manager. The next question becomes is he really just that ignorant in regards to judging player quality or was his player selection influenced by something else such as MLS/SUM business interests.

    In regards to BA calling GC a bad egg. Of players in camp GC had the most caps of anyone in a top five league still playing in a top five league. FJ and TC would be close but they conveniently wheren’t called in at all. Given GC experience and the managers he’s played for at Stoke I’ll take his pov on things over BAs whose soccer playing experience is practically zero and has only managed inside the US or USMNT. Vet players know when a manager is full of ish.

    Still cant get my head around how you bench PL starters and fail to call in Bundesliga starters and instead go with MLS guys. Its like if the Belgian manager decided to bench Vincent Company and failed to call in Belgian players playing in top 5 leagues in favor of players starting in the local Belgian league. Given the difference in quality between the leagues its also like the England manager calling in Championship and League One players over PL starters. Its total madness. We had players but either didn’t call them up or didn’t use them effectively tactically and formationally.

    BA really just needs to shut his mouth, done listening to this guy who thinks he’s some sort of American soccer genius, what a joke we are as a soccer nation. Never was for BA and posted at the time it was a big mistake and got flamed as normal but I remember how many on this board really loved the move and thought BA was the guy. Also, remember many of you defending his asinine player call ups and snubs in favor of MLS guys “who show heart” and ish like that.

    We as fans can’t see a rube for a rube and got snookered the whole way by BA and the MLS/SUM boys, hoping this wakes us up so we can take our federation back and no long be a laughing stock only then would it be just a little bit worth it given the circumstances. Otherwise, we’re doomed to repeat being a below average soccer nation that usually makes the WC (bigger field coming soon) but can’t do a damn thing once we get past the group and play with the big boys.

    • Another thing, BA misrepresents GC’s record as a starter. GC only started 3 Hex matches and the US was 1-1-1 in those 3 matches. Not 1-3-1 as BA comments. BA clearly says “started” so he not referring to sub appearances, whose our stats and anaylitcs guy for USSoccer if BA is coming up with this stuff. GC was available to start in 6 HEX matches out of 10 due to injury.

    • it may have something to do with a big drop off in performance by a lot of our european players in those central american and caribbean countries. It’s not secret that Chandler, Brooks and Fabian Johnson have had awful games in away games internationally for the US, Chandler even came out and said he couldn’t handle the heat and the long travel some years ago. And, i still have yet to see a CB have a worse game than what John Brooks had in San Jose, Costa Rica! Now, i don’t know if that was the case but i’m sure it didn’t help! Our euro guys and our domestic guys just weren’t good enough, home or away!

      • This arguement keeps being rehashed over cycle too and maybe it does have some merit. But I don’t seem to remember the heat having an influence on Jermaine Jones or FJ in away matches from the 2014 cycle. I’m going to need more evidence that this is a real thing before we can put it on that.

      • Joe, good catch on the record. You’re exactly right he only started four games and they were 2-1-1 in those games. It’s shocking that BA either had such poor information at the time or is making stuff up to try and deflect the criticism. Normally a coach would just say, “I felt like OG gave us a better chance to win,” and then just let the masses argue it out. The decision was turned out so badly, though, that he has to come up with some other reason.

        I totally understand what Cameron is saying about the fitness excuse. If he isn’t fit and agrees to a call up, it makes him look unprofessional, so BA is trying to make himself look better by making Cameron look worse. I don’t blame Cameron for defending himself.

    • Here another thing everyone should have read too. Its a interview Grant Wahl gave to Garber and Garber provided written answer to MLS/SUM and USSF extensive relationship.

      The worse part IMO is when Garber says SUM only pays USSF an average of 30MM per year. There is no way that between USMNT, USWNT, YNTs, Men WC, Women WC, Youth WCs, GCs, Mens and Womens WCQs, all the friendlies, jersey sales, ticket sales, and all the marketing sponsorships that SUM is only pulling down $30MM a year in revenue marketing our NTs. Thats complete and total utter bulls-t. $30MM is a absolute joke of a number considering what the real revenue must be from all tv contracts and gates and jersey sales and sponsors for Men, Womens and Youth. Absolute Joke.

      Throughout the article Garber keeps mentioning that MLS/SUM takes all the risk off the table for USSF in this deal and that the for taking the risk off the table $30MM a year is great no risk deal for USSF. What a joke. I work in finance as do probably several other here. Whenever you take risk(beta) you need to be getting paid a return on the risk(beta) you take. This return that SUM earns on the marketing of rights to our NTs needs to be disclosed. Wish Wahl would have followed up on this part. Given the amount of times Garbers mentions the word risk its assured their is a significant return to SUM from this deal otherwise he couldn’t justify taking the increased beta(risk) with his investors assets.

      Again, Garber said SUM only pays a in total $30MM/year to USSF for everything. What a joke. Read the article folks.

      • Thanks Gary, ya spot on in your comment from above. Always enjoy your comments which tend to be some of the best informed here.

    • Again and again , You don’t know what are you talking about. All of USMNT ( U20, U17 included) basically are MLS teams or not? All of them are MLS players. Without SUM and The MLS support the USMNT will be dead, out of business, period..!!

      • Let me guess “Hernando” you’re supporting Kathy Carter as the next USSF president since SUM has done such as great job for USSF.

    • I actually don’t have a problem with leaving TC off the roster. He is the epitome of a player that shines for his club but sucks for his country.

      The much bigger problem was Arena’s failure to go young. He relied on the same tired group of players, Pulisic not withstanding. No McKennie; no J. Gonzalez, no Tyler Adams, etc.Howard who excelled in Brazil, should have stayed retired from international football.

  6. Cameron is misreprenting the amount of time left – he said that he made a mistake in the 88th MINUTE. It was the 82nd! IMO I’m not just splitting hairs. If there were two minutes left you probably take more chances than with 8 left. I might be totally biased as a hockey fan, but in hockey you only take a big risk (ie pulling your goalie and replace him with a forward) ONLY in the last one or two minutes. I don’t think soccer should be much different when it comes to leaving gaps in the defense.

    However, I totally agree that Cameron absolutely should have played, but I’m dissappointed that he is exaggerating the amount of time left.

    I checked this by looking at the game reports on a couple of websites, so if anyone has better info (i.e. I’m wrong about the amount of time) please let me know.

    • You managed to be both pedantic and use a failed analogy. There is little difference between a loss-clinching goal in the 82nd and 88th minute. We’re not talking about the 50th minute or 60th. Secondly, there is no apt comparison between hockey, with its significantly smaller playing surface and soccer. In case you missed the memo, futbol has neither power plays nor do teams lift the goalie.

    • You’re wrong about hockey. The top stats guys proved years ago that NHL teams were too far timid in pulling the goalie down late. Things have improved somewhat, though coaches are still too conservative. Just like NFL coaches and 4th down decisions.

      • Interesting thought on the hockey goalies – I’d love to check out the research – do you have a link? Still not sure that Cameron’s move was smart with 11 minutes still left (inlcuding stoppage) as he was beaten pretty badly. Unfortunately its much harder to come up with decent data for that type of risk than it is to measure success rates when pulling goalies. I had the misfortune of being at the game and sitting in the Costa Rican section with my two kids. They were some of the longest 11 minutes of my life – listening to non-stop horns and chants while my kids asked “why are these fans being so unsportsmanlike?” It was a great first taste of international soccer for them despite the loss. I’m just hoping that Arena and Cameron and Rongen (said he went to Gonzalez’s house but he didn’t) watch what they say a little more closely – granted Cameron’s was the least outrageous of the 3 but It seems to be getting more and more difficult to read sports articles and political articles without doing lots of fact checking.!

      • Check out a recent story on 538:

      • thanks for the article – good reasearch by the stanford professor – i’m surprised it took so long for hockey coaches to use it. I liked that one game in the world cup (against belgium?) where howard ran down the field into the opponents 18-yard box with a minute left – it would be fun to see that happen more often in soccer!

      • I didn’t go so far as to defend Cameron. Soccer research is still in its infancy. I just wanted to point out a misconception about hockey specifically, and make a more general comment about the risk-averse nature of coaches across sports.

  7. It’ll be a years before we here the truth about behind the scenes issues among the players, coaches, & federation. Our failure to beat T&T and missing out on the 2018 WC will be have some article/special similar to the when we beat T&T to go to the WC in 1990. But I don’t see it happening until after everyone involved has retired from the spot.
    While I had issues with JK’s roster changes, and playing people out of position. He was good at bringing & giving youth a chance.
    The issues with Arena in 2017 was the same as it was in 2006…reliance on old/known players who’s performances were slipping. Reliant on MLS & Afraid to use young players. This was most evident during the Gold Cup selections.

    Just have to hope that whomever wins the USSF presidency & is hired as the Coach/Manager of the USMNT will help right the ship by establishing real depth & competition.

  8. Regardless of how you feel about what the team would have done with Klinsmann, Arena was a clown that did a very terrible job and still tries to play it like he had nothing to do with it.

    • I’m a Galaxy fan who has been following them for about 20 year sand I’ve seen them with with Arena for most of his tenure there. BUT, when he was hired for the USMNT, and it was to general acclaim here and elsewhere, I tried to warn people that the previous two years he had made bad player selections (he was also GM with the Galaxy and responsible for all player moves). And the team was on a downward trajectory, which became apparent after he left. You can defend him all you want and bash Klinsmann all you want, but the record is clear. Arena didn’t do the job and his lack of success with the Galaxy in the previous 2 seasons should have been a warning. One irony is that if the US hadn’t won their group in the first stage of qualifying, then they wouldn’t have opened with Mexico and CR and maybe then would have qualified. One thing I agree with Ronniet, if you remember, the practice field at T&T was flooded the day before the game and the response of the players was to treat the situation as a lark. At that time I worried because they seemed to be taking the game lightly based on their comments at that time. They were definitely over confident. However, even that doesn’t excuse the own goal by Gonzalez. And although Cameron had a bad game against CR, Omar Gonzalez had a worse one in the game in CR, and over all Cameron has always been better than OG.

      • Who is defending Arena? He was coach during possibly the most embarrassing and disappointing moment in USMNT history. All I pointed out was that Klinsman was not exactley setting the world on fire and the “Klinsman out” movement had a ton of support behind it. Klinsman was routinely
        criticized for being tactically inept and not making the necessary adjustments in games. Klinsman also was in charge during the disaster that was the 2015 Gold cup.

        Arena failed miserably, but let’s not re-write history and act like Klinsman had us heading in the right direction.

  9. Bottom line is regardless of who was coaching, we lost games we never should have lost and that’s on everybody.

    But please stop with the “If Klinsman was still coaching” crap. Klinsman was the one that put us in that hole in the Hex to begin with, while he experimented with his 42d different lineup and formation.

    • I’m not buying the JK put us in a hole bs,I think that was just an easy excuse if it didn’t go Arena’s way. How many points have they gotten against Costa Rica in Costa Rica before and losing to Mexico at home isn’t that big of a deal to me even though we have had their number for years at home. Losing to Costa Rica at home is different and losing to T&T is unimaginable. If the first 2 games were not Mexico and CR and they would have gotten points against other teams probably no big deal right. There are excuses anyway you want to look at it but fact is they didn’t get the job done regardless and who would have thought Panama and Honduras would have gotten results like they did even they shouldn’t have had to rely on them.

      • Agreed, we didn’t get the job done against teams we should have and then absolutely everything that could go wrong for us did.

        But Klinsman’s time had come to an end. He was 10-3-8 in his final 2 yrs and was in charge during that horrible 2015 Gold Cup. The team simply stopped responding to him.

      • Klinsman had completely lost the players at that point. There was no way we were going to be playing effectively with him in charge after the Mexico game.

  10. Bottom line is regardless of who was coaching, we lost games we never should have lost and that’s on everybody.

    But please stop with the “If Klinsman was still coaching” crap. Klinsman was the one that put us in that hole in the Hex to begin with, while he experimented with his 42d different lineup and formation.

  11. I’m not even that upset about the player selection. Am I upset that our “spark” off the bench in Trinidad was Feilhaber, a player who is in the bottom half of MLS starting attacking mids? Yes. However the Cameron decision is “meh” for me. The coach preferred some players over others. It happens.

    What really annoys me about Arena, what has always annoyed me about Arena, is that he does not play to win on the road. I didn’t think we’d actually lose before the T&T game, but I definitely remember thinking that Arena was the last coach I wanted for an away game where we needed a result. He went into that game playing for a draw, just like he did coaching the LA Galaxy in the CONCACAF Champions League and just like he regularly did in CONCACAF qualifying through two previous qualifying campaigns. We paid the price because Arena wanted to play like the underdog against teams the US is better than.

    • i disagree with this, and honestly Feilhaber should have been apart of the team earlier than when he came in. People like to look at age as this indictment on players, and in certain sports it’s a crutch when you reach a certain age! There have been plenty of players that have played at a high level in soccer well into their 30’s, it all depends on fitness and ability at the end of the day! Feilhaber actually came in a provided a spark, he almost scored a goal off a header and put a cross in the box that created a chance on goal! Problem was Bruce brought him on the field too late, which was maddening! We had the players on the roster to qualify, arrogance is what kept us home this summer!

  12. I wrote here at the start of the T&T game that starting OG at CB was a big mistake. I doubt Klinsmann would have made that mistake. I rest my case.

    • Klinsmann made his share of mistakes so let’s stop it! That Gold Cup roster and the players he played was one big mistake, Ventura Alvarado?? Playing a three man back line against mexico to start WCQ?? Starting Wondo versus Argentina, after the Belgium fiasco, a grave mistake! If you’re in the sporting business long enough as a player or coach, mistakes will be made, but limiting them and when they occur is what separates the good ones from the mediocre to bad ones!

      • The federation wanted to cap tie Alvarado. As bas as losing to Jamaica in the 2015 Gold Cup, it pales in comparison to losing at T&T. Moreover, it’s false equivalency since GC results have zero impact on WCQs. I didn’t have a problem with using a 3 or 5 man back line against Mexico because you need to counter the width that Mexico has from using a similar foundation. Regardless of what you think about Klinsmann, I seriously doubt he would have fielded such a lackluster side at T&T and he never would have openly mocked T&T beforehand either.

        In one sense, Arena was correct about “bad eggs,” but IMO he was talking about the wrong group of guys. Players like Backwards Pass Bradley; Graham I can’t play international fullback Zusi; Clint selfish Dempsey; Jozy petulant Altidore; Omar jogging Gonzalez; and Tim I have to diss other players Howard failed us. Every single one of those players Arena depended on too much and he has to accept responsibility for HIS failures rather than blame it on “bad eggs.” Seriously, if you have “bad eggs” WTF are they doing on your roster?

  13. Jozy and Wood never made a great pair and putting them up top together, just gave away too much in the midfield. Pulisic was able to cover this up but you can really only ask so much of him.

    This team had already showed poorly in every road match during the Hex, yet Arena made no adjustments. They just didn’t seem prepared.

  14. Agreed! With Klinsmann, I bet we would have seem Jona Gonzalez and Weston Mckennie called in. We would not have had this old school attachment to the really “American” veteran guys that just didn’t have the stamina and fire to be beat T&T.

    • I agree that Arena made mistakes with player selection but regardless of that the group we put on the field vs t&t was more than capable of winning. The exact same players had just whipped Panama days before.
      For me, the main issue was not selection. It was the arrogance shown by Arena and his players who thought why had already made it. They were wrong

    • B. Arena is a lacrosse coach , He doesn’t understand soccer/football at all. Good as administrator but very bad as a coach.


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