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Cameron Carter-Vickers shines for USMNT in World Cup win over Iran


DOHA, Qatar — Just a few days ago, Cameron Carter-Vicker didn’t have a reason to believe he would have a major part to play in the U.S. men’s national team’s Group C clash with Iran. The American defense had gone two straight matches without giving up a goal in the run of play, and was coming off a shutout of a high-powered England attack.

Carter-Vickers, like most observers, wasn’t expecting a change to the USMNT back-line, but when Gregg Berhalter turned to the Celtic defender to make his World Cup debut, as a starter in a must-win game no less, Carter-Vickers was ready for the challenge.

Iranian attackers struggled to deal with Carter-Vickers strength and impeccable positioning, with the imposing centerback flattening Iranians on multiple occasions and helping the USMNT record its second shutout of the World Cup on the way to a 1-0 victory on Tuesday that secured a place in the Round of 16.

“I thought Cam was great,” Berhalter said when asked by SBI about Carter-Vickers. “It’s difficult after getting shutout against England to take Walker (Zimmerman) out, and it was a difficult conversation with Walker. The rationale was we expected Iran to be in a low block and Cam does this every single week with Celtic. We thought that was just a very logical decision.

“He’s used to defending space behind him. He’s is also used to use the building up against a compact defense. So to me, that was a good fit and he played really well.”

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

“(He was) fantastic,” Tim Ream said of Carter-Vickers. “Stepping in, doing exactly what the coaches and the staff needed them to do. Great communication and just another calm head out there.”

Ream and Carter-Vickers had never played together before, but you couldn’t tell against Iran, as the air worked together effortlessly to stifle the Iranian attack.

“When you play with new (centerback) partners, the key to it is really just talking,” Carter-Vickers said. “Talking as much as you can throughout the game and just getting used to each other’s movements and kind of defensive movements.”

As Berhalter noted, Carter-Vickers was well-suited to deal with the challenges posed by facing an Iran team that set out in a defensive posture and focused on trying to catch the Americans on the counterattack. There were some moments where Iranian attackers were able to get into the final third, but Carter-Vickers helped lead the U.S. defense in shutting down those threats.

“I think it’s just making sure the whole team is organized when we’re attacking to stop their threat on the counterattack. It’s just staying concentrated for the full game,” Carter-Vickers said. “One counterattack can make an opportunity so you’ve always got to be concentrated.

“At Celtic, you’re expected to win every game so the way I tried to look at it was tonight was no different,” Carter-Vickers said. “We had to win, we were all aware of that, but you just try and focus on the process of how to win rather than anything else.”

Carter-Vickers was at the center of a controversial moment late in the match, when he appeared to put a hand on an Iranian attacker in the penalty area during one attacking sequence. Iran’s players protested the referee’s decision not to call a penalty on the play, protests that continued well after the final whistle.

Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos

Carter-Vickers didn’t consider the play a penalty-worthy foul, but admitted to feeling a sense of relief once the final decision went in his favor.

“I think (the referee) was very good tonight,” Carter-Vicker said. “He let the game flow, which I personally enjoy.”

Carter-Vickers finished the day with a game-high four clearances, along with four recoveries and 51 completed passes, third-most on the USMNT on Tuesday night. It was the kind of complete individual performance that will make Berhalter’s lineup decisions even tougher heading into Saturday’s Round of 16 matchup with the Netherlands.

Whether he is called on to start again, or returns to the bench in favor of Zimmerman, Carter-Vickers believes the USMNT defense will be ready for the difficult challenge the Dutch will present.

“Throughout the tournament, the back four and Tyler in front of them have done an outstanding job,” Carter-Vickers said. “I think a bit unlucky to concede against Wales and then obviously the clean sheet against England, I think everyone’s performed well. For me, all I can do is just be ready and when I’m called upon try and perform.”


  1. if “club form” (location + stats) doesn’t accurately work then why are considering “club location” alone? after all, the bench riding turner is fine while the club productive wright and sargent are not. or how do we grade out 85% injur rehab mckennie or reyna. some of our best players are MLS academicians or recent grads, including turner and adams. and, yes, a MLS player went lumberjack. amidst this confusion go back to eyeballs and track record. and to be real that may favor europe somewhat. but should not be assumed to do so. should be earned.

  2. Vacqui spotlighted Beckerman, and Kyle was far from alone. There have been many MLS players that performed well at the World Cup in the past. 2018 looms too large in recent memory.

  3. I still don’t get the passionate defense of MLS. The story with this US team is that we’ve made massive progress on youth development over 20 years, and as a result we’ve been able to get more and more players playing at the highest club level, which is in Europe.

    MLS is critical to that process. As a feeder. Part of being excited for this team is getting to see this effort finally paying off. It’s ok to call it out and celebrate it. It’s the result of a lot of planning and hard work.

    MLS is important and growing and getting better all the time, but why do its supporters have to keep over-selling it?

    • No one is overselling anything. But we should be clear that without MLS this USMNT wouldn’t be where it’s at today.

      The league will continue to get better and American fans should be happy about that.

    • The guy who knows what ISL & MSL is confused about Americans defending their own league?! If all of your great grandparents were born in America, what opportunities would you have to be the highest paid player in the sport in America?!
      There’s been more non-American born players to play for the US in it’s history, than people whose great grandparents were born in this country!! Point blank period! Americans who want foreign players and foreign managers are so brick headed. They don’t understand this. We used to send Bruce Murray & Peter Vermes against players playing for AC Milan, Man U, PSV, Barcelona. Also in the 80s-90s , US had nothing but foreign players. I love Hugo Perez, Marcelo Balboa, Tony Sanneh & Paul Mastraoni. They have no understanding of sayings like “Stuck on stupid”, “slow like molasses”, or that Louisiana has parishes and not counties. Americans who have lineage going back to the 18 century don’t call themselves Yanks. It’s against our very nature!! We don’t say phrases like “I don’t rate him!” “I don’t rate her!”. Or idioms like Let’s go boys!! US soccer fans have relied on the populous being ignorant about the sport because of the coverage. UEFA does a Nations League. CONCACAF does Nations League. UEFA does a Champions League. CONCACAF does a Champions League. Why are people so obsessed with the Euro sac?? It has nothing to do with overselling the MLS. No one has ever said the MLS is worth the most money, because it’s about money. It’s not about talent, these people are getting paid to play a sport. They ain’t playing soccer for free. At some point in time, I asked myself, why don’t I support the MLS? We all we got!

      • I’m not sure we disagree. I just want our players playing in the best leagues. I’m certainly not a Europhile. I despise the faux-euro copycat stuff. The team naming, the face touching, the words like pitch, boots, kit, rate, nil, and on and on. The singing. Americans don’t sing at sporting events. The MLS fans are posing and the rest of the American sports world is cringing. It’s the hard truth. It hurts the growth of the sport.
        I just want to see our American kids playing in the best leagues, which are inconveniently still overseas.

    • league considerations should be limited to scouting. being at ManU should be a leg up to get in camp. once there, this should be decided by field play regardless of club team. for players with a NT track record your club location should give way to how you have played in the shirt.

      let’s cut the crap. MLS fans do not tend to oppose european players on any principle. european fans may in fact oppose any MLS being involved. MLS fans then respond that x y z belong there. “you started it.” i would like it if this silly snob business disappeared.

      to be crystal clear, on recent caps zimmermann belonged on the team. CCV didn’t play well. this has reversed at the world cup. however no sane soccer team would pick against track records with the NT setting a world cup roster. that would just be setting yourself up. the positions that tend to be a mess include 9, where the coach basically picks his club form favorites. yet again this has not worked. we have 2 goals in 3 games. sargent still hasn’t scored in the shirt in like 3 years. we are discussing striker “intangibles” instead of picking scorers. this is what happens when one tries to justify “norwich” or “turkey lig” as opposed to picks proven NT scorers. how many elite teams in the world you think are picking a 9 talking about his pressing first.

      • do you agree that we should have scored more goals if not for continued wastefulness in front of goal, as well as plyers trying to do too much by oneself(Pulisic, Weah, Wright) like what we saw in wcq? Goals wins games, we’ve created a ton of chances at this WC, we’ve got to put them away with more frequency….it’s that simple

  4. One thing I have noticed is that CCV too often gets the referee’s attention, simply because he is strong and opponents bounce off him. On one hand that is good, on the other referees sometimes see a foul when none occurred . As a result, I am always nervous when he wins a challenge that the referee will see it in a harsh light.

    • Another thing is that many of his passes across the field were too soft. An alert striker who notices that could position a bit off of Ream to invite the pass then pick off one of those slow balls and be in on goal unmolested.

      • Have to agree. I did not think nearly as much of CCVs performance. Zimmerman’s dominance in the air seems so much more valuable – as was evident when he subbed on against Iran.

    • i voiced this years ago when he was previously in fashion c. 2018. this is a trade off on his physical man marking style. he can try to foul less. but at a point it’s about assessing trade offs. since we don’t have enough quality marking backs to secondarily separate them based on which ones can defend AND have ball skill or don’t foul, i think you just have to take your lumps and encourage him to keep it down.

      to be blunt, no offense, but has he chopped someone down in the box yet? we tend to talk in isolation. roster is relative. are you better than zimmermann right now? exactly. the choices are him or long. way he’s playing right now, him.

    • US and Australia have MLS players both on to the round of 16.

      Uruguay, Mexico, Argentina, Poland, Switzerland, Cameroon are still in the running to make the round of 16.

      • i mean, do people think germany will take over american player development? there is a FIFA 18 year old rule. do they think european teams can absorb all our players? UK has work permit laws. other leagues limit foreign players per team. our players generally can’t “pull a DeMerit” and go sign with an English Conference team. it becomes about passports and numbers games. the UK takes either passport players or proven NT stars basically. that’s not helping us make players. that’s cherry picking finished products.

        i mean i have to listen to idjits act like leeds made adams. it’s the same coach he had at NYRB and in germany part of the time.

    • MLS has 30-odd players in the tournament and perhaps half are USA. so the league works for other teams. i consider it to be an emerging league as good as the championship and second tier european leagues. plenty of teams roster their sides with players from the c’ship and second tier europe and don’t blink. i think some snobs want to fast forward to a point where this is brazil. it’s not there yet. it’s often a decision between a big league bench guy, a c’ship loan player, a MLS all star, a belgian starter. that is not as obvious as some think. until it’s obvious the absolutists aren’t helping. we should compare players by having them in camps and games on a common field, not make arbitrary snob decisions. when we have 30 guys starting in the big 5 leagues we can complicate that. we barely have anyone, and some of the people who do start in good leagues sometimes suck.

      last point, no team at the world cup showed up without domestic players. it defies common sense your domestic league plays no role in either development or selection. even teams like france that export a lot have clairefontaine camps and a smattering of domestic selections. and a good chunk of their expats used to be domestic earlier in their careers. just a nonsense argument by euro tv watching fanboys who watch an end product but don’t know the long story of say how haaland got there. which is like about 5 teams long starting with his own domestic league.

  5. Play All European -based players, massive and obvious difference in quality of the entire team. Zimmerman and Acosta did well however coming on

    • these types of comments are the problem, a problem that doesn’t need to exist but yet some can’t help themselves. The MLSers have barely played, except Walker and he’s been pretty good outside of the penalty. I don’t know why we have to continue parsing the leagues players play in instead of just supporting the group as a whole. If people in the middle of the fanbase, meaning the fans who don’t care what league our players are from, wanted to join the criticism fray it can be argued the euro players are scuffing, or rather just missing way too many chances on goal, goals that if put away would have seen this team win the group on 9 pts tbh

      • I agree. There will always be MLS players involved with and playing with the USMNT. Not every talented American decides to go to Europe. MLS continues to get better every year. Oh and by the way MLS has 35 players on WC squads. Which puts it at the 6th highest league with WC players.

      • This is really in response to 2tone. 35 players on rosters is great, but how many of those teams will advance out of their groups?

    • That is just silly. There are plenty of US players who play in Europe who will never be called into the USMNT and for good reason just there are plenty of MLS players who will never be called in.
      The European leagues simply pay better than MLS at least in the better leagues. It is mostly a nobrainer for a young MLS player to go to Europe,if he is good enough to get the interest. But not all players want to for various reasons and not all young MLS players who get European interest are really that good.

      • They used to say that Craig Bellamy, a notorious Welsh, Liverpool, Man City, etc. forward, if you you left his alone in a room, could get into a violent argument with himself.

        That’s what this whole MLS vs Europe argument reminds me of.

        When Clint and Bradley moved to MLS they were still USMNT regulars. Technically they were MLS players but not really.

        It has always been and always will be a case by case basis. People forget that Lletget spent many years with WestHam but never played one League minute for them. And Beckerman was an MLS lifer yet had a great 2014 World Cup as our finest dirty player, next to Jermaine Jones.

    • this is such nonsense. some of the “europeans” were “MLS” a year or two ago. every single “MLS” here could probably play someplace in “europe,” even roldan, though he would be in like scandinavia. snap of an agent’s finger, swoosh of a pen.

      there is also the problem where with players like brooks this heuristic didn’t work. is not sufficiently predictive. i am sure GB is wondering if he should have brought Vazquez or Pefok.

      i also think as the roster becomes more and more european anyway, the heuristic becomes useless. leeds vs chelsea? spurs vs fulham? lille vs dortmund? exactly.


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