Geoff Cameron on USA’s progress, high hopes with Stoke City

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LONDON — Geoff Cameron is back fit and ready to go for the USA’s two friendlies against Colombia and the Republic of Ireland over the next week.

Cameron, 29, has recently returned to action for Premier League side Stoke City after six weeks out with hernia issues that required surgery. After strong performances in both central defense and central midfield during the World Cup this summer, Cameron is keen to kick on for the final two games of the USA’s season this week.

[ RELATED: News, notes from US in London ]

Asked by local media how the USA can keep progressing after a World Cup performance which drew plenty of praise from across the globe, especially the UK, here’s what Cameron had to say.

“We have to take baby steps. It’s a long process over four years for every World Cup but there’s the Gold Cup and Copa America so there’s busy summer’s ahead,” Cameron said. “We are trying to take the national team to the next level. We can’t go gun-ho. There are baby steps as to what you need to improve as a team with new guys coming in and younger faces, I think there is a lot of potential for our team.”

[ RELATED: Guzan on Villa, leading US ‘keepers

The perennial questioned asked by the British media to American players then arrived, as Cameron was asked how ‘big’ soccer is in America and if he has noticed a difference in support numbers, level of play and general interest levels since the 2014 World Cup.

“When I first started my career in the MLS and coming back for qualifiers and whatnot, the attendance from fans was absolutely amazing,” Cameron said. “Soccer has become huge. It is more mainstream now and eventually I think it will take over the big sports in America. If you look at it, it has to go from generation to generation. It’s a time thing. I have children, they grow up in a soccer environment then that’s what these kids learn. Now with the diversity we have in the U.S., the different cultures and different ethnicity they all come from soccer backgrounds and grew up in that environment. I think that is the reason why soccer is becoming huge.”

Cameron also admitted that the head coach of the U.S., Jurgen Klinsmann, is a big reason why the program is moving forward.

“He has done it all. He knows what it takes to win and he’s a guy that you want to play for because he has respect and he knows what you are going through as a player. Mentally, physically. Everything,” Cameron added. “He knows what to do to push you and he is always there for advice. For me he has been fantastic and you’ve seen what we have done over the last few years. I think he has taken the national team to the next level.”

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Cameron believes the USA are heading in the right direction.

[ RELATED: Besler talks SKC, enjoying life in London ]

Cameron has returned to action over the past three weeks for the Potters after missing out through injury from August until early October. The Bostonian was heavily linked with a move away from the Britannia Stadium during the January transfer window but Cameron has remained with the Potters and spoke about his ‘dream’ of playing in the Premier League.

“It’s not a bad living, you get to wake up and play football everyday,” Cameron smiled. “Playing in the Premier League has been a goal of mine since I was a young kid. Playing at the Emirates and against the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City, you are playing against those big teams. Those are the games you want to play in.”

Following Stoke’s impressive win at Tottenham Hotspur, Mark Hughes’ side sit in ninth place on 15 points. That’s just three points off the top four and Cameron believes his team can push on further.

“It was a big 2-1 victory [against Tottenham]. We definitely needed that,” Cameron said. “We were disappointed from last weekend to give up a 2-0 lead against West Ham, not getting three points when we had an opportunity to climb the table. But going to Tottenham, it’s always a tough place to play. It was a great result. In the next couple of months we have a few tough games ahead of us, they are all  pretty tough, but we have a tough run. You just try and get as many points as you can.”

ProSoccerTalk will be with the USA in London all week ahead of their game against Colombia at Craven Cottage on Friday. Stay in touch with the latest news, here.

Chelsea Ladies sign NWSL superstar Sam Kerr

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Sam Kerr is heading to London.

The Australian megastar is leaving the Chicago Red Stars for Chelsea after scoring two MVP awards in the National Women’s Soccer League (2017, 2019).

[ MORE: NYCFC teen off to Gladbach ]

Kerr, 26, has 38 goals in 83 caps for the Lady Matildas, scoring four times in one World Cup match against Jamaica last summer.

Her 69 goals are the most in an NWSL career, and she admits it was a challenge to leave her comfort zone and head to Europe.

“Probably the part that was most difficult was leaving friends and the US because I’ve created such a home there, but it was just time for me to make a change. And once I had my eyes set on Europe, it was kind of an easy decision to choose Chelsea as a club.”

It’s a huge signing for Chelsea, who is leading the table through five matches with an unbeaten 4W-1D record. She’ll join the team in January.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic says goodbye to the LA Galaxy

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has bid adieu to Major League Soccer, thanking the LA Galaxy for “making me feel alive again.”

The Swedish superstar averaged nearly a goal per game with the Galaxy, and was rumored to be in line for another two years at the club.

[ MORE: Columbus acquires Nagbe ]

Perhaps those reports, and maybe AC Milan’s struggles to score goals, have made more suitors come forward. Time will tell.

The Galaxy said the decision was a “mutual parting of ways” and thanked the player for his work both on and off the pitch.

From LAGalaxy.com:

“We would like to thank Zlatan for his contributions to the LA Galaxy and Major League Soccer,” said LA Galaxy President Chris Klein. “Since his arrival in 2018, Zlatan has positively influenced the sport of soccer in Los Angeles. We are grateful for his work ethic and passion. We thank Zlatan for his professionalism and immeasurable impact on the Los Angeles community and the soccer community in North America as a whole.”

Zlatan’s full thoughts, below, were a bit more Zlatanny.

Klein will have his hands full in replacing Ibrahimovic, who scored 52 times in 53 matches, but the Galaxy have always managed to bring in big names.

Getting a star playmaker is even more important as El Trafico rivals LAFC have rewritten the MLS record book and snared plenty of attention in California and across the league.

Columbus acquires Nagbe from Atlanta for $1M in allocation

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Darlington Nagbe is headed for a reunion with old boss Caleb Porter.

Columbus has sent over $1 million in allocation money to Atlanta United in order to claim the influential midfielder.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

Porter coached Nagbe at the University of Akron and the Portland Timbers, and has 25 USMNT caps but has turned down Gregg Berhalter’s requests for service.

Nagbe made 46 appearances across all competitions for the Five Stripes this season, scoring twice with five assists. He has 313 matches played between Portland and Atlanta.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“Darlington Nagbe is a proven winner and the type of player who can be a difference-maker in our team,” Crew SC president and GM Tim Bezbatchenko said in a statement. “In addition to his skill set, we believe that Darlington is someone whose character and values fit well within our organization. As we stated heading into this offseason, we continue to look both domestically and internationally for players that will make our team better, and we believe Darlington is an important part of those efforts.”

It’s a bold statement from Columbus, who had a reputation for getting the most of its talent under Berhalter but faded under Porter after a hot start. The Crew began 2019 with a 4-1-1 record but lost 13 of its next 15 matches.

Of course, being MLS, the Crew then only lost 2 of their final 13 matches. Shoulder shrug emoji.

NYCFC teen agrees move to Borussia Monchengladbach

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New York City FC’s impressive academy has earned one of the bigger transfer market payoffs in MLS Homegrown history, and will join the current Bundesliga leaders after next season.

Joe Scally, 16, is headed to Borussia Monchengladbach on a $2 million transfer with a sell-on clause, and will spend the 2020 MLS season with his boyhood club. Scally has played in the Open Cup, but has not debuted in an MLS match.

[ MORE: Top 25 players in USMNT pool ]

The $2 million figure is on the edge of Top 30 for departing MLS players, according to Transfermarkt, just behind Cyle Larin’s move from Orlando City to Besiktas.

Scally appeared 11 times for the U.S. U-17 national team, going 90 minutes in all three matches and assisting on the lone American goal at the World Cup in Brazil.

From Borussia.de:

“Joe Scally is a top American talent who we have been following for a long time. We see a lot of potential in Joe and we are looking forward to him joining up with us in January 2021. Until then, we will work together with New York City FC to prepare him for his move to Germany,” said Borussia’s sporting director, Max Eberl.

Not sure just how long they could’ve been following a 16-year-old, but we digress.

Scally will join U-17 teammates Giovanni Reyna (Borussia Dortmund) and Maximilian Dietz (Freiburg) on the books at a Bundesliga club. Recent U-17 call-ups Pablo Soares (Gladbach) and Noah Jones (RB Leipzig) are also with clubs in Germany’s top flight.

Last month, NYCFC sporting director Claudio Reyna told me that Scally was the perfect example of a young player trusting a club’s preference of changing his position.

“The perfect example is Joe Scally on the U-17 World Cup team. He came to us from a club in Long Island as an athletic box-to-box midfielder. He was very strong, but we saw him as an outside back. The lesson that we now we share that with our players, don’t get upset if you move to a position, but Joe Scally understood, never complained, he played wherever he was told to do, and now he’s a right back now, 16 years old going to the World Cup after being in our academy for two and a half years.”

Looks like it’s worked out.