Geoff Cameron explains Chelsea’s defensive success; talks Stoke, relegation battle and studio life

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Working with Gary Lineker and Graeme Le Saux was a privilege.

Each week at ProSoccerTalk we will hear from from U.S. national team and Stoke City defender Geoff Cameron, who is now a special correspondent for

[ RELATED: Cameron’s latest on PST ]

The proud Bostonian tells us what life is like behind-the-scenes in England’s top-flight with Q&A’s, first-person pieces and more. This week Geoff recaps his day in the studio with the NBCSN crew for Arsenal vs. Chelsea, Stoke’s progress, Chelsea’s defense and the relegation battle.

Take it away, Geoff…

Looking back at last weeks game against Sunderland on Saturday, we were disappointed to not win but after a bad start we recovered well to get a point. I came off in the 85th minute with a bit of a fascial strain near my hamstring, so I was disappointed to go down with an injury but I am focused on trying to do everything possible to make sure I am fit and ready to go for this weekends big game against Swansea City.

On Sunday it was a privilege to be an analyst in the NBC studio at Arsenal vs. Chelsea and work alongside Gary Lineker, Graeme Le Saux, Lee Dixon and Arlo White. It was very cool to be a part of that with the entire production crew behind-the-scenes and to get that experience in the studio. Watching two of the best teams in the Premier League, it was a game where Jose Mourinho really showed his brilliance.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

Tactically, everybody questioned him before the match because he wasn’t playing with a striker but Chelsea defended so well with John Terry being the leader back there. The way he organized the defense was sensational. Mourinho, tactically, made it very, very difficult for Arsenal to break them down and that is why they walked away with a point and they are a point closer to clinching the title. That’s the way he will look at it.

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I’ve been amazed at how well Chelsea has defended down the stretch.

For Chelsea, the key to defending as good as they do is the partnerships and familiarity they have back there. Speaking from experience, the more you play with the player next to you then the better you get. You get more comfortable in the partnerships and you learn their habits and vice versa. That breeds faith in each other. That is one thing that Mourinho has done really well with all of his teams when you look throughout history. He has always had that team camaraderie and cohesiveness. That really resonates on the field and you see that players love to play from him and after chatting with other guys who have played under him before, they all say he’s “a players coach” and guys want to play for him and doing anything to win. That is the main thing, that winning mentality. And the fact that he is always there to back up his players means a lot. That relates to the field because you see his guys throwing their body on the line and blocking balls, plus after the game you see how excited they were to get that point.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

A lot of people aren’t fans of the way Chelsea are playing lately but they got a result and its very difficult to defend the way they defend, especially when they were playing a team like Arsenal who are very good on the counter and in possession of the ball. When they keep the defensive and midfield lines very tight, it just shows how well organized and disciplined they are. That is not easy to do, believe me.

But this way of playing is nothing new to Mourinho either. I remember watching them play in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal against Barcelona back in 2010. Mourinho set Inter up to defend away at the Nou Camp and they lost 1-0 but limited Barca and made it to the Champions League final, which they ended up winning thanks to another superb defensive display against Bayern Munich. His teams are okay with not having the ball in certain games and I think Mourinho knows Chelsea haven’t played their best football since January but they are finding ways to win. That is what good teams do. At Stoke, that is what we are trying to do. We have done a good job at that but it is very hard to be consistent throughout the season. Being able to not play well when lots of players are struggling but grind out results and play well defensively, to make sure everything goes your way, that is very hard to do.

[ RELATED: Premier League schedule ]

Moving on to Stoke, if you look at the form everyone is in above us they are doing well. The likes of Southampton, Tottenham and Swansea are ahead of us right now. Then you have all the big boys ahead of them. We have beat some big teams and we want to stay in the top 10 and we will be very disappointed if we don’t finish in the top 10. Our goal is to finish higher than we did last year and if we finish ninth then that is one step closer to getting to the next goal. We play Swansea this weekend and if we beat them, we move up to eighth and we just want to finish the season strong and keep improving. Every year you have to get better and better, finish in a higher place, get more points and more wins. Everything.

Doing some homework before we go on air. I see you Le Saux, trying to take a sneaky peak!

Looking down below us right now… man, it is a madhouse down there! The relegation battle is going to be huge and one of the big storylines in the league between now and the end of the season. Anything can happen. You cannot predict anything. Who would have thought Liverpool would have lost to Hull on Tuesday? It all depends on who shows up that day. That is the great thing about football and sports in general. On any given day anybody can beat anybody. Look at Leicester City, I know Robert Huth very well and as soon as he turned up at Leicester on loan from Stoke he told me “I think we are going to stay up” and he has believed it and the players there obviously have faith in each other. They are one of those teams where everyone is playing for one another.

At Stoke we were in a bit of a sticky situation a few years back, not quite as late in the season as this, but it was anxious around the locker room and the entire club. Everybody is on edge and it is a tough situation to deal with. When you see teams like Leicester, the big reason for their resurgence is that they have faith and they have shown their resilience over the last four weekends. With things so close at the bottom, it makes the games more entertaining and it will make the end of the season very interesting. For teams at the bottom, there has to be no fear right now. The fact that everybody doubts them already, that means they have to go out with the mentality of saying ‘hey, let’s play every game like its our last.’

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

To finish off with, I just want to give a big shout out to everybody in the production staff at NBC. The likes of Pierre Moosa have been wonderful in helping me along with my broadcast work and it was great to be involved in the studio show last Sunday and I’m looking forward to hopefully getting involved in a few more coming up to get some more experience. It was a long day but was really fun, entertaining and I felt comfortable. Have to give a huge thanks to Gary Lineker and Graeme Le Saux, both of whom are legends, for being so welcoming and we had a really good time in the studio. It helped me settled in to things because it is not an easy thing to do but I’m looking forward to the next one.

And oh yeah, afterwards I got to meet Ted Lasso, otherwise known as Jason Sudeikis! That was a real honor, I love his movies. He is hilarious and we managed to get this group photo, below. Great, right? It was a pleasure to meet Jason and he’s a really cool dude. Down to earth but boy, he is one funny guy. I told him he needs to start wearing a Stoke jersey around and support us, so he said he’s going to come check out a game…

Let’s all look forward to that! Anyway, thanks for all the support from across the pond. Until next time, peace!

Americans Abroad: Chandler earns start after lengthy absence; McKennie leaves injured

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On a relatively quiet weekend for Americans abroad, Timothy Chandler started for Eintracht Frankfurt for the first time since mid-September.

In England, Christian Pulisic made another start for Chelsea, while Lynden Gooch returned to action with Sunderland after a few months of inactivity.

But while some came back from inactivity, Weston McKennie was stretched off the field on Sunday after landing on his shoulder in Schalke’s 1-0 win over Frankfurt.

Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic started and played 65 minutes in Chelsea’s 1-0 loss to Bournemouth on Saturday. The attacker failed to record a single shot.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — The fullback watched the Magpies’ 1-0 loss to Burnley from the bench on Saturday.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic — Robinson continues to rack up the minutes at Wigan. The young left back started and played the full 90 minutes as Wigan picked up a point against struggling Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old didn’t dress in Reading’s 0-0 draw with Stoke City.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The Tigers captain started and played the full 90 minutes in Hull City’s 2-2 draw with Charlton Athletic on Friday.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The 34-year-old defender started at centerback and played 67 minutes in QPR’s 5-3 loss to Barnsley.

Tim Ream, Fulham — Ream started and played 90 minutes in Fulham’s 1-1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — Like Miazga, Carter-Vickers, too, was absent during Saturday’s bout.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes started and played 88 minutes in Derby’s 1-0 loss to Millwall.

EFL League One

Lynden Gooch, Sunderland – Gooch came off the bench and played 18 minutes in Sunderland’s 1-1 draw with Blackpool – the first minutes for the Californian since mid-October.


Weston McKennie, Schalke —  13 minutes into the game on Sunday, McKennie was stretched off the field after he suffered an apparent shoulder injury.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf Despite making four saves, Steffen allowed three goals in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s 3-0 loss to RB Leipzig on Saturday. Morales did not dress.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  Sargent is out with an injury for the remainder of the calendar year.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams didn’t dress for RB Leipzig.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach — Johnson didn’t dress for Borussia Monchengladbach.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — The veteran defender started and played 90 minutes for the first time since mid-September.

2. Bundesliga

Julian Green, Greuther Furth – The 24-year-old midfielder is out with an injury.

Bobby Wood, Hamburg – Wood dressed but didn’t play in Hamburg’s 1-1 draw on Sunday.


Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest didn’t dress for Ajax on Sunday.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — The 21-year-old striker started and played 45 minutes in VVV Venlo’s 2-1 loss to PEC Zwolle.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — The U-23 MNT fullback didn’t dress for FC Emmen on Sunday.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Weah didn’t dress for Lille on Friday.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — Siebatcheu didn’t dress for Rennes on Sunday.

Honorable mentions:

Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund U-19 —  Reyna’s praiseworthy campaign in Germany continues, scoring a goal in Borussia Dortmund’s 6-1 win over Alemannia Aachen on Sunday.

Georgetown wins NCAA title by beating Virginia on penalty kick

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CARY, N.C. — Georgetown goalkeeper Tomas Romero stopped Virginia’s Axel Gunnarsson in the seventh round of penalty kicks to give the Hoyas their first NCAA men’s soccer championship Sunday night.

The teams fought through two scoreless 10-minute overtime periods after finishing regulation tied at 3, leaving penalty kicks to decide the game. Both teams made their first six penalty kicks, and Aidan Rocha made the seventh for Georgetown, forcing Gunnarsson to attempt to match it.

Romero moved to his right to thwart the shot and give the Hoyas (20-1-3) the victory.

Derek Dodson, Paul Rothrock and Daniel Wu scored in regulation for the Hoyas.

Virginia (21-2-1) countered with goals by Joe Bell, Daniel Steedman and Daryl Dike.

Georgetown appeared on the verge of winning regulation when Dodson broke a 2-2 tie with 9:37 left in the second half. But Dike forced overtime when he booted a rebound of his own miss into the top of the net with 4:58 remaining in regulation.

Virginia was bidding for its eighth national championship and third since 2009. Georgetown was playing in its second NCAA final.It lost 1-0 to Indiana in the 2012 championship game.

Mexicans Abroad: Jimenez registers assist in Wolves loss, praised by Liverpool’s Klopp

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In an underwhelming slow weekend for Mexicans abroad, only Raul Jimenez (and Omar Govea) managed to make the headlines, but not necessarily for his assist to Adama Traore in Wolverhampton Wanderers’ 2-1 loss to Tottenham on Sunday.

The 28-year-old forward, who has been on a serious scoring run this season with Wolves, was praised by Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, who was asked about Mexican soccer ahead of the Reds’ match against Monterrey in the semifinal of the FIFA World Cup of Clubs.

“There are several players from Mexico,” he says “but Raul Jimenez is an impressive Mexican soccer ambassador, really good. I’m sure they (Mexico) have a strong league, but it’s not easy to see it here, so I don’t know much.”

Here is a list of several other Mexico national team affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) outside of Mexico this weekend.

Premier League

Raul Jimenez, Wolverhampton Wanderers —  Despite Tottenham snapping Wolves’ 12-game unbeaten streak in league play, Jimenez continued his fine run of generating goals. In the 67th minute, the forward assisted Traore for the home side’s first and only goal of the night.

La Liga

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Sevilla — Chicharito came on for Luuk De Jong in the 59th minute in Sevilla’s 2-1 loss to Villarreal on Sunday. The forward completed all of his passes (four) and had a shot blocked.

Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid — Herrera played the final 27 minutes of Atletico’s 2-0 win over Osasuna on Saturday.

Andres Guardado, Real Betis —  Due to a suspension, Guardado was not called up to feature in Betis’ 18.

Diego Lainez, Real Betis — The 19-year-old took the field in the 52nd minute in Betis’ 2-2 draw against Espanyol.

Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo — Araujo started and played every minute in Celta’s 2-2 with Mallorca. The defender recorded three clearances, one blocked shot and three interceptions. Celta remain as possible relegation candidates.

Serie A

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Napoli —  Lozano’s time at Napoli under Gennaro Gattuso didn’t have the firework start many were hoping for. Instead, the frenetic winger started on the bench and played only 11 minutes in Napoli’s last-minute 2-1 loss to Parma on Saturday.


Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven — Gutierrez started and played all 90 minutes in PSV’s 3-1 loss to Feyenoord on Sunday. The midfielder completed 89 percent of his passes, recorded one key pass and one shot on target.

Edson Alvarez, Ajax —  It’s been an up-and-down experience for Alvarez at Ajax thus far. Completing 93 percent of his passes and winning 80 percent of his ground duels, his performance on Sunday was a high for the midfielder, despite his team’s 1-0 loss to AZ.

Primeira Liga

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, FC Porto — Tecatito and Porto host Tondela on Monday.

Jupiler Pro League

Omar Govea, Zulte Waregem — Govea shined on Sunday in Belgium, bagging a brace in Zulte’s 5-1 thumping of Sint Truidense VV.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Pedro Arce, Panionios – Arce played 70 minutes in Panionios’ 2-1 loss to Volos on Sunday.

Gerardo Ramirez Alonso, Roda JC – Ramirez Alonso dressed but didn’t take the field in Roda’s draw on Friday.

Serie A roundup: Ronaldo sets record with brace, Juventus top Serie A (video)

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Juventus’ routine win, which puts them level with leaders Inter Milan, highlights Sunday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Juventus 3-1 Udinese

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace as Juventus picked up its first win after dropping points in two consecutive Serie A outings.

With two goals – which easily could have been four if he had not struck the bar – the Portuguese made history in front of the home crowd, becoming the first player to record double digit goals in 15 consecutive seasons within Europe’s top-five leagues.

The storied attacker opened the floodgates in the ninth minute, when a softly deflected ball landed in front of the same right foot that belted the ball past Udinese’s man between the sticks.

It wouldn’t take long for Ronaldo to record his second of the night.

In the 37th minute, one of the 34-year-old’s best techniques made scoring a possibility: positioning. Keeping track of the defender marking him and Udinese’s backline, Ronaldo made a run forward, meeting a perfectly-placed ball from Gonzalo Higuain and striking it home. 

Before the first half came to an end, Leonardo Bonucci headed home the home side’s third of the night, putting the game out of reach. In consolation time, however, Udinese spoiled Gianluigi Buffon’s clean sheet as Ignacio Pussetto tap in inside the box found its way into the goal.

It’s a quick turnaround for Juventus as they travels to Sampdoria midweek, while Udinese host Cagliari over the weekend.


Verona 3-3 Torino

AC Milan 0-0 Sassuolo

Bologna 2-1 Atalanta

Roma 3-1 SPAL

Fiorentina 1-1 Inter Milan