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.

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.

Defoe: Sunderland’s Duncan Watmore reminds me of Gareth Bale

during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Sunderland at Selhurst Park on November 23, 2015 in London, England.
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Duncan Watmore is highly regarded at Sunderland, as the 21-year-old was rewarded with a new four-year contract with the club earlier this week.

While the club has high hopes for the young winger, his teammates are taking notice as well.

[ MORE: Transfer Rumor Roundup ]

Watmore’s teammate Jermain Defoe, a seasoned veteran who knows all about succeeding in the Premier League, praised the 21-year-old’s play, comparing him to one of his former teammates at Tottenham, Gareth Bale.

In a funny way he reminds me of Gareth [Bale]. When he came on the scene at Tottenham, he used to just get the ball and glide.

He’s such a nice boy, I don’t think he’s bothered about signing new contracts and stuff, all he wants to do is play football and do well for the club.

If he can go on to do what Gareth has done then he’ll be fantastic. He’s the future of this club.

That’s quite the comparison, as Watmore has only made six Premier League appearances in his young career. Bale was twice named the Premier League Player of the Year before being sold to Real Madrid for a world record transfer fee in 2013.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

While it’s a bit too soon to be calling Watmore the next Gareth Bale, there’s no denying he could be a huge talent for Sunderland. After coming on as a substitute in the Black Cats’ win over Crystal Palace on Monday, Watmore showed his speed and willingness to run at defenders, something the club is in desperate need of. He made his debut for the England U21 side this fall, which shows his form has impressed many outside of just the North East.

After starting his career in the Manchester United youth setup, Watmore was released and played with non-league side Altrincham before signing with Sunderland in 2013. He scored 11 goals in 18 appearances last year with the U21 side, being named the Under 21 Premier League Player of the Season.

Five Premier League players make UEFA Team of the Year shortlist

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03:  Kevin de Bruyne of Manchester City celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal with his team mate Sergio Aguero (L) during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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UEFA has released the 40-man shortlist for the 2015 Team of the Year, with five Premier League players making the cut.

[ MORE: Champions League roundup ]

Chelsea’s Eden Hazard is on the list after being named the Premier League Player of the Year last season, as is Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez.

Manchester City accounts for the other three players, as Joe Hart, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne have been selected. However, De Bruyne makes the list mainly based off his play for Wolfsburg last season.

Three teams have more players selected than the entire Premier League combined. Barcelona leads the list with eight players, while Bayern Munich and Juventus each have six.

[ MORE: FIFA Ethics Committee seeks lifetime ban for Sepp Blatter ]

Cristiano Ronaldo already has the most appearances on the final list with nine, and is looking to make his ninth consecutive Team of the Year. No other player has been selected more than six times since the beginning of the award, which was started in 2001.

Below is the complete 40-man shortlist.

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Denys Boyko (Dnipro).

Defenders: Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), David Alaba (Bayern Munich), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), David Luiz (Paris St-Germain), Dani Alves (Barcelona), Thiago Silva (Paris St-Germain), Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid).

Midfielders: Grzegorz Krychowiak (Sevilla), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Marco Verratti (Paris St-Germain), Yevhen Konoplyanka (Sevilla), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), James Rodriguez (Real Madrid), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen).

Forwards: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid), Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris St-Germain), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Neymar (Barcelona), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Luis Suarez (Barcelona), Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid).

New York Red Bulls’ Jesse Marsch voted MLS Coach of the Year

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NEW YORK (AP) — The Red Bulls’ Jesse Marsch has been voted Major League Soccer’s Coach of the Year, the first to earn the honor in the two-decade history of the New York team.

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The Red Bulls went a league-best 18-10-6 in Marsch’s first season after replacing Mike Petke, winning 14 of their last 20 games with one tie. They trail Columbus 2-0 going into Sunday’s second leg of their Eastern Conference final.

MLS said Tuesday that from combined team, media and player votes, Marsch received a weighted total of 152 out of a possible 300.

Dallas’ Oscar Pareja was second with 91 and Vancouver’s Carl Robinson third with 24.

How can Chelsea qualify for last 16 of Champions League?

HAIFA, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 24: Willian of Chelsea celebrates scoring his teams second goal during the UEFA Champions League Group G match between Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and Chelsea FC at Sammy Ofer Stadium on November 24, 2015 in Haifa, Israel.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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With one match left in UEFA Champions League group play, Chelsea control their own destiny.

After beating Maccabi Tel-Aviv 4-0, the Blues sit tied with FC Porto on ten points at the top of Group G.

[ MORE: Champions League standings

However, with Dynamo Kyiv earning a big win over Porto on Tuesday, Chelsea must wait until the final matchday to qualify for the knockout round, as there is a possibility of a three-way tie for the top spot in Group G.

With Chelsea hosting Porto on December 9, here are the scenarios for Jose Mourinho’s men to assure advancement.

  • A win over Porto will clinch Chelsea the top spot and a place in the last 16.
  • A draw against Porto will see Chelsea advance.
    • Chelsea draw/Dynamo win: Chelsea win group, Dynamo finish second
    • Chelsea draw/Dynamo draw or loss: Porto win group, Chelsea finish second
  • A loss to Porto and a Dynamo Kyiv draw/loss to Maccabi Tel-Aviv will see Chelsea finish second in the group and advance to the last 16.
  • The Blues have secured at least a berth in the Europa League, regardless of the result in their final match.

Simply put, get a point at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea advance.