The U.S. player who’s performance against Panama may have the greatest impact into their future undoubtedly was Geoff Cameron.
The Stoke City defender could have earned himself a new role in the Premier League next season as the club looks for a new identity and new results under recently hired manager Mark Hughes.
Plenty has already been discussed about Geoff Cameron’s performance last night in holding midfield in place of the injured Jermaine Jones. With the regular starter having suffered a concussion in Jamaica, Cameron was called into action.
The 27-year-old Bostonian is already known for his versatility. He’s used mainly as a right back at the club level, and Tony Pulis signed him with the intent of giving some flexibility to his back line. However, the position of right back is new to Cameron, and he’s had to learn the skill while applying it at the same time in Stoke. He’s played left back there on occasion as well, attempting to translate the skills to the opposite side of the pitch.
In an interview back in October, Cameron admitted it was a work in progress with Stoke. “I’m not used to playing right-back, but over the last couple of weeks I have been watching videos and trying to learn. The timing is different from playing centre-back or centre midfield because there are different angles and also different ways you have to step up or drop off. Also, on the right, you have more of a relationship with the guy in front of you. That’s what I have been working on over the last few weeks and I think I am getting more comfortable.”
At the international level, Cameron has been often utilized by Jurgen Klinsmann at center back, which is his original and most comfortable position. He was, however, eaten alive in the friendly against Belgium, and subsequently found himself looking on from the bench in the historic win against Germany as Klinsmann mixed and matched to find the right combination in defense.
Fast-forward to Tuesday night. With Jones injured, Klinsmann slotted Cameron into the holding midfield, a masterstroke looking back. The move not only allowed Michael Bradley to move up into the attack, but utilized Cameron’s skills with the long ball so often seen at Stoke. In defense, Cameron provided superb cover for the back line, and excelled at halting Panama’s buildup before it even began.
Although the short passing began extremely sloppy on his part, that ability with the long ball translated directly to a goal as the United States grabbed a vital second just 10 minutes into the second half. Cameron blasted a ball from the mid line all the way up to Eddie Johnson who had found space on the right flank behind the defense, and the striker cooly finished in front of his home fans.
So what does this mean for Cameron at Stoke? It will be interesting to see how Klinsmann uses Cameron now that Jones will most likely return next week against Honduras. But either way, Mark Hughes can take solace in the fact that Cameron clearly has the skill set to play a holding midfield role, with the innate ability to see buildups before they happen, and shut the door.
The use of Cameron at the Britannia could see players like Charlie Adam and Steve N’zonzi move forward, much in the same way Bradley was able to do against Panama. At the moment he’ll have to compete with the likes of Glenn Whelan and Wilson Palacios for the spot, but it’s no guarantee who will be around and who won’t after Mark Hughes finishes making the squad his own. Therefore, performances like this in a tough CONCACAF hexagonal bracket can go a long way into helping Cameron not only challenge for a spot but cement one.
And the beautiful long ball doesn’t hurt at Stoke either.