Neither game was the U.S. center back’s best, but it was probably enough to retain his starting spot.
The United States paid a high price for his iffy choices in each contest (the wins over Antigua and Guatemala), diving in for a tackle Friday and getting stretched out of position Tuesday. But this is what you get with a guy who is still growing into the position (and not even playing there for his club, Stoke City).
On the other hand, Cameron was steady after that early mistake against Guatemala, and he continues to add something in athleticism and passing ability out of the back.
Watching the longtime incumbent at U.S. right back, you just do not get the feeling that he’s fading. Not a bit, even at 33 years old.
It’s not just his astute positioning, either. The legs still have plenty of pop to get him up and down the flank. His combining with Graham Zusi along the right wasn’t quite as stellar as in Columbus a month ago – some of that was due to Guatemala’s tightly dug-in defensive tactics – but it was still effective.
Going into the final round, his is one position that manager Jurgen Klinsmann will not spend a second worrying about.
The young midfielder rallied past a so-so Friday, improving in his connections on Tuesday. His passing against Guatemala ranged from good to excellent, with that extra little dab of touch and sophistication on some of his relays into wide areas. His tackling and one-on-one defending needs to improve, but at 23 there’s ample time for that. A little more confidence will go far in that regard, helping him go more aggressively into those challenges.
He’s not there yet, but Williams does look like a man who could be The Man as a screening presence in front of the defense for Brazil 2014.
It is so easy to overlook some of the little things Gomez provides, the pressure, the unsettling effect he can have on defenses, the little wins that can lead to opportunities. On the other hand, the United States just scored five goals, and the primary striker in the arrangement didn’t supply any of those. And his night in Antigua was fairly forgettable. Tuesday’s night was enough to make amends, but if Eddie Johnson (or some other striker) can score while also providing all of Gomez’s hustle-bustle, his place on the depth chart will suffer.