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.

MLS Three Things: RBNY beats Atlanta, is a special club right now

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At this point, Jesse Marsch could take the USMNT job, Tyler Adams could bolt for the Bundesliga, and we’d still have to select the New York Red Bulls to finish with a home playoff game.

[ MORE: Willian’s shot at Conte ]

That’s how well run RBNY is these days, which is to take nothing away from their coach and 19-year-old star, but considering they navigated a solid CONCACAF Champions League run en route to this start… well…. wow.

On a night when Luis Robles’ ironman streak ended, Kaku recorded two assists, and Ezequiel Barco bagged his second goal in three matches, they don’t even meet the requirements of our three things.

Form giants deliver more goals

Marsch’s men have been shutout once this season, and most multiple goals in four-consecutive wins. Three of those four wins have come on the road, at LA, Colorado, and now Atlanta.

RBNY has the best points-per-game in Major League Soccer, has scored the joint-most goals despite playing in the second-fewest games, and is allowing barely more than a goal-a-game.

Bet against ’em. We dare ya.

BWP delivers the goods

RBNY’s 33-year-old English star scored twice and won a penalty that Daniel Royer converted as he continued his assault on all future Red Bulls’ hopes of becoming the club’s leading scorer.

Bradley Wright-Phillips has almost 50 more goals than his nearest competitor, Juan Pablo Angel, and he makes headers look like child’s play.

Victory comes with a price

Kemar Lawrence was lost with a scary-looking face-plant on a clearance, and needed to be stretchered off the pitch. Hopefully it’s not long-term for the Jamaican back.

Willian “edits” Conte out of FA Cup champions photo

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Willian is not a fan of Antonio Conte.

Come to another conclusion if you like, but it’s hard to argue the Brazilian wizard’s feelings following his Instagram post after Chelsea beat Manchester United in the FA Cup Final.

[ MORE: Matic wants squad changes at Man Utd ]

Willian covered his manager in trophies following the win, and it’d be a stretch to call that a tribute to the Italian’s tactical brilliance.

The player recorded seven goals and six assists despite playing less than all but 12 Chelsea players in league play (12th place Alvaro Morata had 11 and 6).

We’re accepting alternative explanations for the since-deleted Instagram photo below:

Elis scores twice as Dynamo beat Fire 3-2

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BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (AP) Alberth Elis scored two second-half goals to help the Houston Dynamo beat the Chicago Fire 3-2 on Sunday for their first road win of the season.

Elis, on a one-on-one breakaway, cut back to evade defender Johan Kappelhof and ripped a right-footer from the center of the box into the back of the net to give Houston (4-3-3) a 3-2 lead in the 74th minute.

[ MORE: Man Utd youngster gets USMNT call-up ]

The Dynamo’s Romell Quioto opened the scoring in the fourth, running onto a long through ball from Tomas Martinez and rolling the finish past sliding goalkeeper Richard Sanchez. Nemanja Nikolic tied it in the 14th minute and then fed Diego Campos for a goal about two minutes later. Elis converted from the spot to make it 2-2 early in the second half after Mauro Manotas drew a foul in the area conceded by Sanchez.

Chicago (3-6-2) has lost three of its last four games.

 

Inter Milan back in the Champions League after late heroics (video)

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It’s been more than a half-decade since Inter Milan qualified for the UEFA Champions League, an infamous run that ended on Sunday.

Inter scored twice in the final 13 minutes to beat fifth-place Lazio and advance into the Top Four via head-to-head record.

[ MORE: Man Utd youngster gets USMNT call-up ]

Lazio held 1-0 and 2-1 leads, but could not get the job done at home, collecting red cards in the 79th minute and stoppage time.

Uruguayan midfielder Matias Vecino scored his third goal of the season, redirecting a corner kick home in the 81st minute, as Inter clinched fourth place in Serie A.