How Geoff Cameron’s performance against Panama affects Stoke City

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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.

Luan, Gremio looks to dethrone Real Madrid at Club World Cup

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“He’s a wonderful person. He’s got lots of titles, so maybe he can just leave this one to us.”

That’s Gremio youngster Luan after being told Real Madrid star and countryman Marcelo said he has a huge future in the game.

Luan and his teammates could make a lot more noise with a win in Saturday’s Club World Cup final against Real.

[ MORE: Galaxy to acquire Bingham? ]

Gremio edged Pachuca in extra time of its semifinal after Real came back to beat Al Jazira, and now hopes to become just the second non-European club to win the Club World Cup since 2007.

Brazilian clubs won the first three CWCs between 2000-06, but Corinthians claimed the lone Brazilian title since when it beat Chelsea in 2012.

Spanish clubs have won the last three finals, with Real sandwiching two around Barca’s 2015 win over River Plate.

The 24-year-old Luan won Olympic gold with Brazil in 2016, and has two caps with the national team.

Still waiting for these Premier League summer transfers to hit

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They seemed like hits at the time, but some significant summer transfer buys are are struggling in the Premier League.

[ MORE: LAFC close to signing third DP ]

Whereas Mohamed Salah, Nemanja Matic, and Alvaro Morata have been solid pickups, and even lesser moves like Kurt Zouma to Stoke and Grzegorz Krychowiak to West Brom have hit the spot, some purchases just have not panned out at their new clubs.

Some aren’t getting playing time, while others aren’t hitting their stride, but here are some moves which just haven’t paid off (yet).

Andre Gray, Watford — The striker has two goals and two assists, but has had problems keeping hold of the ball and has the same amount of goals as defender Daryl Janmaat and midfielder Will Hughes despite playing about 300 percent of their minutes.

Marko Arnautovic, West Ham — The ex-Stoke player was a menace in a midweek draw against Arsenal, but Arnautovic has managed just one goal for the Irons this season. That’s equal to his amount of red cards.

Renato Sanches and Roque Mesa, Swansea City — Sanches hasn’t been able to get into the squad despite being one of the more talked about loans of the summer; Mesa may be coming around in recent weeks, but was an unused sub or not in the squad in 10 of Swans’ first 13.

Jese, Stoke City – The Real Madrid attacker was almost certain to take time to adjust to the Premier League, but his match-winner against Arsenal on Opening Day remains his lone marker.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Liverpool — His deadline day move to join Liverpool, supposedly to play centrally, seemed a head-scratcher. He’s only recently seen consistent minutes in a more central role despite Liverpool having loads of problems there. Maybe that’s on Jurgen Klopp, but we’re still scratching our heads.

Report: Galaxy close to scooping up thrice-capped USMNT keeper

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The LA Galaxy may be turning to its Cali Clasico rival for a new goalkeeper.

Reportedly denied in its pursuit of longtime Vancouver backstop David Ousted, the Galaxy are said to be close to scooping up thrice-capped USMNT keeper David Bingham from San Jose, according to ESPN.

[ MORE: LAFC close to signing third DP ]

The deal would reportedly cost LA between $200,000 and $250,000 in TAM.

Bingham, 28, lost his starting gig to Clemson product Andrew Tarbell this season, and the latter looks intent on keeping the position.

The Galaxy have not had a long-term answer in goal since Jaime Penedo left the club in 2015 (though 24-year-old Jon Kempin showed some very good things last season). Bingham would be a fine addition for a Galaxy team that hemorrhaged the second-most goals in MLS.

FIFA worried about government interference in Spain

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Concerned about the independence of the Spanish soccer federation, FIFA said Friday it will send a delegation to the country to investigate government meddling.

FIFA said in a statement written in Spanish that it had recently sent a letter to the federation “expressing our concern for the situation that the federation is going through and reminding (its officials) that, according to the Statutes of FIFA, all member federations must manage their affairs independently and assure that there is no interference by third parties.”

Spanish newspaper El Pais reported earlier Friday that the FIFA letter warned of a possible suspension because of the government’s push to hold elections following the arrest of federation president Angel Maria Villar in July on suspicion of corruption.

[ PL PREVIEW: Chelsea vs. Southampton ]

According to El Pais, FIFA is concerned that the government’s interest in federation elections could be considered outside meddling and break its rules. If the national federation were to be suspended, Spain’s team would not be allowed to play at next year’s World Cup.

FIFA’s statement made no mention of a suspension or other punitive measures.

But the scare was big enough for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to say that Spain will not miss soccer’s biggest event.

“I am sure that Spain will go to the World Cup in Russia and that it will win it,” Rajoy said at a news conference in Brussels.

FIFA added in its statement that “in the coming days” it will send a delegation, which will include representatives from UEFA, to Madrid to “observe and analyze the situation” of the Spanish soccer federation.

The federation said in a separate statement that its interim president, Juan Luis Larrea, had spoken with FIFA and UEFA officials at the World Cup draw on Dec. 1 and that he had passed on their “enormous concern” to Spain’s minister of education, culture and sport.

The Spanish federation said it was waiting for the ministry to set a date for a meeting.

Spanish police arrested Villar, his son, and two other soccer officials in July on suspicion of improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents.

Villar was replaced by Larrea, the body’s treasurer for three decades. Critics of Villar argue that elections are needed to make a clean start for the institution that has been tarnished by the scandal.