Geoff Cameron

Spotlight USA: Geoff Cameron enjoying new lease of life at Stoke City ahead of USA’s World Cup adventure

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Geoff Cameron hasn’t looked back since joining Stoke City from the Houston Dynamo in August 2012 and things are getting better for the U.S. international.

In his second full season in the Premier League, Cameron has consolidated his place as a starter for Stoke as new manager Mark Hughes replaced Tony Pulis, the man who bought Cameron.

The 28-year-old defender — whose versatility and incredible engine has seen him used in a variety of positions for club and country but mostly right back for the Potters — is excelling as an attacking full back under Hughes and speaks about the change in philosophy from Pulis to Hughes suiting his talents.

(MORE: Read the full archive of Spotlight USA, including Tim Ream, Brad Friedel)

During the two recent USMNT friendlies in Europe, Cameron excelled at center back and was arguably the USA’s best player against Scotland and Austria. Not a bad thing to be doing as he looks to rubber-stamp his spot in the starting lineup at the World Cup in Brazil next summer.

Cameron played in 35 PL games during his debut season in England, he’s been ever present in Stoke’s team this season so far too.

I caught up with him — as well as throwing a bit of banter at each other as our path crossed many moons ago amongst the college soccer circuit — whilst he was on international duty with the U.S. squad.

This is what the marauding right back had to say.

On playing for new Stoke manager Mark Hughes:

I think it’s been tremendous, he’s a really, really good coach. He’s positive, he’s playing the ball on the pitch and that suits my style better than the way we played under Pulis which was a lot of long balls. That didn’t suit my style as much as I would’ve wanted it to. Saying that, I had 38 games last year under him [Pulis] I’ve been fortunate. And as for playing for Hughes, it’s been great so far.

On being encouraged to attack from right back:

He wants the outside backs to get involved and be a part of the offense and make it difficult for the other team so they have to defend me as well. And, I’m seeing the ball a lot more. Where last year, you just get it and you hump it down the line and you just hope for something. Whereas this year there’s intention of going forward, coming in, getting it back and creating stuff.

source:
Since joining Stoke in 2012, Cameron has cemented himself as a regular and a fans favorite at the Britannia.

On Stoke’s mixed bag of results so far:

I think overall, we’re disappointed with some of the results that we’ve had. You know, the Manchester United and Swansea game and Man City at home we should  have won, we had opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net, so those things and those little points here and there hurt you. Saying that, we’ll be okay. I think once we get another win under our belt, our confidence will go and we will get on a roll. I think sometimes we get in a situation where you go up and we’re not used to being up on teams because you kind of fight for a goal in the last minute or something like that and you don’t really realize, ‘hey, you’re up 2-0 against Swansea, let’s keep doing what we’re doing, play the way we played to get the two goals.’ All of a sudden I think we get a little nervous and you’re not confident with keeping the lead. That’s something that we obviously have to work on and get that mentality. I think it’s a mentality thing. (They obviously have been, as Cameron helped Stoke defeat Sunderland 2-0 in Week 12 of the PL, their first home win since August.)

On cementing his place for USMNT:

Just put your name on the list. That’s obviously the goal, going to the World Cup. You just have to be consistent and be a regular player and go from there, little baby steps you know?

On the tough World Cup draw ahead:

I’ll watch it on December 6 and kind of go from there….

On having the other American players at Stoke:

It’s cool. We’re challenging the British guys now, which is cool. I’ve been outnumbered for a while, then Brek and Mo came and slowly we’re taking over the locker room which is pretty cool. It’s good, I think it’s easier for people to adjust because there are a few other Americans to support you if you need anything.

EFL Cup Final preview: Saints aim to deny Manchester United, Mourinho

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 28:  Vincent Kompany of Manchester City and team mate Pablo Zabaleta celebrate victory with the trophy after the Capital One Cup Final match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on February 28, 2016 in London, England. Manchester City win 3-1 on penalties.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
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With the Community Shield in tow, Jose Mourinho aims for his first full tournament trophy as Manchester United boss when his Red Devils meet Southampton at 11:30 a.m. EDT Sunday.

Wembley Stadium is the venue for the EFL Cup Final, a trophy United has claimed four times. The last one came in 2010, as the Red Devils clinched their third League Cup in five seasons.

[ JPW: Southampton comes full circle ]

Sunday marks Southampton’s first final since 1979, when Saints fell 3-2 to Nottingham Forest.

Saints continue to make due without Virgil Van Dijk and Charlie Austin, but newcomers Manolo Gabbiadini, Sofiane Boufal, and Martin Caceres could all feature on Friday.

Gabbiadini almost certainly will, and he’s been a difference maker for Saints since arriving from Napoli. The 25-year-old has three goals in two Premier League matches.

[ MORE: Projected lineups for EFL Cup final ] 

United will not have Henrikh Mkhitaryan back after the Armenian midfielder limped off the pitch midweek, but fellow walking wounded star Michael Carrick will be back for the Red Devils. Wayne Rooney, Ander Herrera, and Eric Bailly will be available.

The Red Devils won the FA Cup last season and the league in 2012-13. Mourinho has three League Cups from his time at Chelsea.

But Antonio Valencia says that United has to act like this is a chance for a new era. From ManUtd.com:

“We have to forget about the fact that we might have won there three, four or five times,” he added. “We have to put that to one side. This is another final, and a totally different story. We cannot afford to make one single mistake, this is a final and we cannot lose our concentration for even one minute.”

Saints will be underdogs for this one, but this trophy isn’t alien to avoiding the hands of the big boys as we’ve seen with Birmingham City, Middlesbrough, and Swansea City since the turn of the century.

Claudio Ranieri issues classy goodbye to Leicester City

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Claudio Ranieri has issued a statement on his somewhat surprising firing from Leicester City, less than 10 months after winning the Premier League title.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Swans preview ]

The Italian manager with a knack of word play pulls on the heart-strings in discussing his exit from Leicester, a club he did not plan to leave any time soon.

From the Leicester Mercury:

Yesterday my dream died.

After the euphoria of last season and being crowned Premier League champions all I dreamed of was staying with Leicester city, the club I love, for always.

Sadly, this was not to be.

He went on to thank his family, Leicester City, saving the kindest words for the Foxes’ supporters.

No one can ever take away what we together have achieved, and I hope you think about it and smile every day the way I always will.

It has been a pleasure and an honour to be a champion with all of you.

No surprise to read class from Claudio. Read the full statement here.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Swansea City

SWANSEA, WALES - SEPTEMBER 11:  Chelsea manager Antonio Conte battles to get the ball back with Cesar Apilicueta (r) from Swansea forward Modou Barrow during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Chelsea at Liberty Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images
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  • Chelsea leads all-time 14W-11D-7L
  • Sides drew 2-2 in September
  • Swans unbeaten vs Blues since Jan ’15

Premier League leaders Chelsea face a resurgent Swansea City side which has given it fits (Watch live at 10 a.m. EDT Saturday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Blues have dropped points in two of their last three Premier League matches, and also have two draws and a loss to Swans in the past three match-ups.

Swansea has won three of four in Premier League play, the lone setback a 2-1 loss to Manchester City. New manager Paul Clement has led Swans from deep in the relegation zone to four points clear of the drop zone.

To succeed, Swans will have to avoid conceding often and early. According to Chelsea’s club statistician:

Conte’s players have scored the opening goal more times than any other Premier League team this season (19) and have yet to lose (16 wins, three draws).

What they’re saying

Antonio Conte on former Chelsea assistant Clement“He has had a great impact on the team. Also, with the transfer window, they reinforced the team, and we must pay great attention. If you watch their games against Liverpool, against Man City, you understand the difficulty of the game. I am sure my players understand this. They have worked very well to face them in the right way.”

Clement on staring down Chelsea“I have said to the players that yes we have put ourselves in a good position, but how hard are we willing to work to make sure we continue to improve? How much do we want to avoid suffering at the end of the season? Because unless we keep winning games and progressing up the table, we are going to find ourselves in a position where we need, say, four points from the last two games of the season.”

Prediction

Stamford Bridge will be the difference here, as Chelsea keeps it tight against Swans. 2-0.

PREVIEW: Tottenham Hotspur’s “To Dare Is To Do”

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The latest Premier League Download makes its debut on Sunday, as we dive deep into Tottenham Hotspur.

With a brand new stadium under construction and a solid look at perennial top-end pushes, Spurs are among the more intriguing stories in the Premier League.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League Picks ]

Spurs host Stoke City on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. EDT on NBCSN, and “Tottenham Hotspur: To Dare Is To Do” debuts at 11 a.m. EDT, right after the match.