For whatever reason, Jurgen Klinsmann has been reluctant to embrace Geoff Cameron as a right back. The U.S. coach has deployed Cameron along the outside of his back line, but only here and there, and only in a pinch.
Of course, “in a pinch” has more or less described the U.S. right back spot for about a year now.
Here’s why there is fresh reason to believe this little situation might be changing:
Brad Evans is the U.S. right back of choice for the moment. And the Seattle Sounders man has certainly done enough to deserve ongoing consideration. Klinsmann talks a lot about helping players achieve their ultimate level and with Evans, he’s probably there.
So while it’s “mission accomplished” for the Seattle veteran – who quite selflessly mentored Sounders teammate DeAndre Yedlin at the right back spot during the January camp, proving himself once again a real team man – it’s hard to escape the feeling that Evans remains a stop-gap solution in the U.S. shirt.
After all, that’s not even his club position; Seattle has used Evans all across the midfield, and as the veteran is a real student of the game, he has a command of the roles and responsibilities wherever called upon.
As a right back, we know what to expect from Evans: adequate, honest defending and just enough push into the attack to check the box on that element of the game. Again, that’s no knock on Evans; it’s his top level, and good on him for getting there.
But then there’s Cameron, who just keeps delivering one solid performance after another at right back for Stoke City. The Potters’ top U.S. international (among three still property of the club) helped set up the weekend game-winner in a huge “W” over Manchester United.
Cameron no longer looks like a center back asked to play on the outside, which was the case before around the Britannia (under a former, far more defensive minded manager). Cameron now seems to relish the role.
So … might Klinsmann change his tune, reversing course on previous thinking that Cameron’s best spot is at center back? Klinsmann’s standard line before was that, like all players, Cameron needed to achieve his own personal top level to elbow his way into the starting lineup in the middle. He needed to force the coach to give him a start … at center back.
But we know this about Klinsmann: he’s an open mind. He doesn’t close doors, not on players and not on ideas. Plus, Klinsmann is secure enough in life and in his job to say he was wrong, a place in which less secure managers might struggle to arrive. In fact, Klinsmann often encourages his players to “prove that I am wrong!”
Cameron might not have been the best U.S. right back a year ago or even a few months ago. But given Steve Cherundolo’s inability to get back on the field, and given Stoke City man’s continued run of strong performance in the world’s top league, it’s certainly worth asking if the depth chart is due for a shaking up?