Geoff Cameron relishing homecoming to beloved Boston, as USMNT face Brazil

Leave a comment

Geoff Cameron is a proud Bostonian and on Tuesday he will line up for the U.S. national team less than 15 minutes from his hometown, Attleboro, Massachusetts.

You can take the boy out of Boston, but you can’t take Boston out of the boy. That old adage is appropriate when it comes to Cameron.

[ MORE: Rubin discusses USA future, Olympic glory ]

Having played in England’s top-flight for the last three years — making 103 appearances for Stoke City in the Premier League — time spent away from his homeland, and New England in particular, will make nights like this even more special.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up vs. Brazil? ]

Speaking to ProSoccerTalk on the phone from a hotel in Downtown Boston, Cameron revealed he has sorted out tickets for over 60 friends and family who will cheer on the U.S. for their friendly against Brazil on Tuesday.

The man from Massachusetts is looking forward to returning to his neck of the woods.

“The last time I was back here playing in front of them was my last few games for the Houston Dynamo in 2012. I haven’t been back since because I’ve missed the last few trips with the national team,” Cameron said. “I am excited to be back and play in front of them. It’s always special when you’re playing in front of your family and friends but at the same time nothing has changed, I just want to go out there and do well and perform every single game.

“But it is a little more special because this is the area I grew up in and, as a kid, I was the one looking down from the stands at Foxborough wishing I could be playing in front of my family and friends. It will be a special moment.”

[ EXCLUSIVE: JPW sits down with Olympic head coach, Andi Herzog

So, how would he sum up Boston and the New England region, the place he lovingly calls home?

“Let’s just say that it is probably the best sports town in America with the most championships,” Cameron said as his roommate Alejandro Bedoya roars with laughter in the background. “Seriously though, the fans are so passionate here. For this region, we all love our seafood and there are plenty of bars down by the water and we love sports. Overall, Boston is a beautiful city with a lot of history. For me, it is one of my favorite places and to be able to call it home, it’s amazing. Instead of going on vacation in the summer, I usually come home and spend time with my family and friends because it is a place that I love and it’s where I grew up. It is a place where I can relax.”

Boston runs through Cameron’s blood. He is a die-hard Boston sports fan who realized one of his dreams last summer when he threw out the first pitch at a Boston Red Sox game following his return from the 2014 World Cup with the USA. Attleboro is less than 10 miles from Gillette Stadium, a venue which has seen many national teams games, houses the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer and hosted World Cup games in 1994. It was at one of those matches in ’94 where a young Geoff Cameron looked on in awe as he took in his first-ever soccer game.

“My first game was the 1994 World Cup, I remember sitting in the stands and saying ‘I want to play out at the stadium and the highest level.’ I went to Revs’ game and I always wanted to do that as a living, that was my goal,” Cameron said. “I remember going to watch the national team train at Foxoborough when Marco Etcheverry was there and watching guys like Joe-Max Moore and Earnie Stewart came and did a few appearances in the area where I grew up. Those were my early memories and there’s no doubt Boston is a huge area for soccer.”

On what will already be a special night for Cameron’s family, another reason to be excited is that his father, Scott, will be making the trip to see his son play. In recent years Scott has suffered with serious heart issues, meaning transatlantic trips to watch Geoff play in the PL with Stoke have been limited.

Cameron still calls his father before every single game he plays and having his Dad in the same stadium as him on Tuesday will be a special moment.

“Every weekend my Dad and my family watch me on TV over in England,” Cameron explained. “But with my Dad being sick over the last couple of years with a serious heart problem, for me it makes it special for me because he hasn’t been able to get out to England to watch. Hopefully we will be able to get him out to a game there this year. I’m happy he will be able to make it out to the match against Brazil. It will be a late one but I’m sure he will rest up and save his energy so he’s alright for the game.”

[ MORE: Three things learned from USA’s win vs. Peru ]

The versatile defensive player made his return to the U.S. setup for the first time in almost a year on Friday, playing his first minutes of 2015 after Stoke requested for him to be left out of the 2015 Gold Cup roster with Cameron struggling to overcome nagging injuries sustained throughout the 2014-15 season. Coming on at half time with the U.S. trailing Peru 1-0 at RFK Stadium, Cameron played at right back and helped set up the first goal and put in a strong display in the 2-1 comeback victory, which was praised by Jurgen Klinsmann in his postgame press conference.

“It was great to get my first few minutes back with the squad,” Cameron said. “I have just got to keep working hard and try to help the team in anyway I can and focus on making sure I’m playing my game and doing the right things. Hopefully that will help the team and we will go from there.”

Geoff Cameron, left, back in action for the USMNT.
Geoff Cameron, left, back in action for the USMNT.

The game against Brazil on Tuesday will be a step up as superstars like Neymar, David Luiz and Kaka roll into Foxborough aiming to put on a show. The U.S. is determined to put on a show of its own.

“We all know the caliber of players they [Brazil] have and these guys play at the highest level, clubs like Barcelona, PSG, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and whatever but they are players too and we just have to make it uncomfortable for them,” Cameron said. “We all know they are a very good team but we are going to do our very best to make it a tough game for them and we’ve shown in the past that we can beat them.”

Many fans of the USMNT will have more than one eye on how the team performs against Brazil as its the USA’s final game before facing Mexico on Oct. 10 at the Rose Bowl in the huge CONCACAF Confederations Cup playoff. The winner will represent the region at the 2017 tournament in Russia and that’s something Cameron and his teammates are desperate to be a part of.

“It’s a massive game for us and for them too,” Cameron said. “It’s going to be a big test and challenge for us but if we play the way we know how to play and all the things slot together, then there’s no doubt in my mind that with the belief we have in each other’s ability, we will come out on top. But we know it is not going to be an easy game and it’s probably the biggest game we will have because we want to go to the Confederations Cup. That would be massive.”

Switching the focus to the current Premier League season, Cameron and Stoke City is winless through their opening four games but have had to deal with plenty of adversity along the way, including late goals against and two red cards in the same game against West Bromwich Albion.

“Obviously we are disappointed,” Cameron said of the start to the season. “Giving up a goal in the 88th minute against Liverpool in the season opener, we should have picked up a point there. Getting a point away at Tottenham was a big point, then a point at Norwich was okay. Then you go home and you play West Brom and get two red cards in the first 25 minutes after we dominated the opening stages and then even after we went down two men we still created chances and the effort and belief we had in each other was strong. We were disappointed we couldn’t have got a point there but the results will come. We are getting better the more times we train and play together. Guys are getting comfortable with each other and the fluidity is improving. Offensively we will get better, guys will click and its shown. Bojan is coming back and hopefully we can start doing some damage up top. I think the back four and defensively we’ve been pretty good. We’ve had unlucky results, but that luck will turn.”

Norwich City v Stoke City - Premier League
Cameron playing for Stoke City vs. Norwich.

For Cameron, he’s started all four games in his preferred position at center back alongside his good friend Marc Muniesa, with their relationship developing on the field as well as it has off it, and he even popped up to play the role of hero and scored the winning penalty kick in a League Cup win over League Two outfit Luton Town.

“I really like playing with Muniesa, he’s a guy where we have a really good friendship off the field,” Cameron said. “He’s one of my good friends and that relates to on the field. We communicate well on the field and know each others strengths and weaknesses, plus we are both confident and controlled on the ball and like to keep the ball out of the back. We organize the guys in front of us, it’s positive and we are going in the right direction. We, as a team, just need to keep it going.”

“You could say scoring that penalty kick was more like a feeling of relief,” Cameron added. “I was just glad that I was able to put it in and Shay [Given] saved the shot before me to give me a little less pressure.”

It’s safe to say Cameron will be feeling a little more at ease on Tuesday when he performs in front of his friends and family in familiar surroundings just down the road from where he grew up.

Three things we learned: Man United v. Liverpool

Leave a comment

Manchester United and Liverpool played out a tense, absorbing clash at Old Trafford as Adam Lallana snatched a late point for the Premier League leaders.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Marcus Rashford‘s first half goal looked to be leading Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s injury-hit squad to a huge victory over their bitter rivals, but Jurgen Klopp‘s men dug deep to find a way to secure a point.

Here’s a look at what we learned from a nervy encounter.


VAR TAKES CENTER STAGE, GETS BIG MOMENT WRONG

After a Saturday which was dominated by big VAR calls, it was only fitting the big game of the weekend also saw VAR take center stage. Two key moments in the first half shaped this game, and one was incorrect. Rashford’s opener should have been chalked off after Divock Origi was fouled by Victor Lindelof in the build-up. VAR was used but didn’t overturn the goal, with Liverpool livid. As for the other big moment involving VAR, Sadio Mane’s goal just before half time was correctly ruled out. Without VAR, that goal would have stood because the replays clearly showed the Senegalese forward handled the ball and then scored.

We saw the best and worst of VAR on Sunday, and United were on the right side of the new technology. VAR is still far too subjective and the fact Premier League referees aren’t willing to head to the TV screen on the side of the pitch to double check their decisions is taking the decision out of their hands and leaving the decisions down to the subjective views of officials sat in front of a TV in Stockley Park. Fans and players won’t mind if a referee has a quick look on the TV screen to double check and the fact no penalty kick decision (which has been awarded) hasn’t been overturned shows that VAR officials aren’t keen to overturn a refs decision and signal for a ‘clear and obvious’ error.


MAN UNITED’S NEW FORMATION SHOULD STAY

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer caused a shock with a 3-5-2 formation and it worked a treat to lock down Liverpool’s wide players. This looked like a specialist formation to make United better defensively against a stunning attacking team, but they should use it more often. When you have full backs like Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw (when he’s back fit) you have to make the best of their strengths, and that is going forward.

Harry Maguire loves to maraud out of the back, and having two center backs alongside him gave him the license to do that. Midfield is still a problem area for United, but the trio of Marcus Rashford, Daniel James and Andreas Pereira and their movement made up for that. The pressure and pace they put on Liverpool’s defense meant United could push themselves higher up the pitch and Solskjaer got his tactics spot on, even if his young team tired and hung on.

Sometimes you stumble on the right system and Solskjaer should probably stick with these tactics going forward. Yes, United couldn’t hang on for the win, but they played much better than they had in recent weeks and with Pogba, Martial and Shaw to come back in, things will get better. It’s okay to tweak your tactical plan while staying in line with the masterplan. Solskjaer’s youngster did him proud.


NERVOUS LIVERPOOL MISSED SALAH

Liverpool’s winning streak came to an end at 17, as they failed to match Man City’s record for most consecutive Premier League wins and their 100 percent start to the season is over. In truth, they never looked like winning this game but they will bee happy with a point. Klopp cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines as Liverpool’s attack didn’t fire and they looked nervous in possession and made bizarre decisions. Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane had both been touted as Liverpool’s new leading men in attack, but they missed Mohamed Salah.

The Egyptian winger was out injured over the international break after Hamza Choudhury‘s late challenge on him two weeks ago, and although Salah’s form has been up and down this season Liverpool didn’t look the same without him. Adam Lallana got them out of jail late on after Firmino’s dummy and Klopp will be happy enough to grind out a point without playing well. Liverpool are six points clear at the top of the table and they’ve yet to get out of second gear this season. Man City will stay in touching distance and Klopp knows he needs Salah fit and back to his best to help Liverpool kick on.

Liverpool equalizes, denied history by Manchester United

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Adam Lallana‘s late goal denied Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a statement win as Liverpool came back to take a point from Manchester United in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Marcus Rashford scored the goal, which was upheld by VAR despite a seeming foul in the build-up, while VAR also took a Liverpool goal off the board for handball.

Liverpool was bidding to move to 9-0 on the Premier League season by claiming its ninth-straight away league win and 18th consecutive win overall, but they’ll take the point.

Liverpool leads the league with 25 points, six more than Man City, while United rises 14th with 10 points.


Three stars of the match

1. Marcus Rashford — He didn’t look right over the first 20 minutes, but kept working until he found the opening goal. The effort didn’t stop there, as he managed four successful dribbles and wasn’t credited with a single time dispossessed.

2. Adam Lallana — Jurgen Klopp‘s 71st minute sub scored his first goal since May 2017, coming off the bench and slipping behind United’s defense to punish with an equalizer.

3. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer — Credit where it’s due, especially when we’ve been critical of the Manchester United boss, but Liverpool never found an answer for the Red Devils’ back three. Perhaps more credit to Solskjaer for not going away from it when Axel Tuanzebe went down in warm-ups.

Honorable mention: Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Fabinho, Scott McTominay, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.


[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

United held the ball for much of the first 10 minutes, but didn’t bother Alisson Becker.

The Reds, on the other hand, saw a 13th minute dribble and shot from Georginio Wijnaldum turn into a David De Gea save.

Cagey and tight, the next shot on target was a 25th minute low effort from Scott McTominay to Alisson.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka was probably the best player on the pitch in the opening half hour, and saw a strong cross cut out by Virgil Van Dijk in the 28th.

Joel Matip spotted a streaking Sadio Mane for a lightning counter out of nothing, but Divock Origi couldn’t make much out of Mane’s feed and De Gea collected the shot.

That’s when United took its lead with one of two first half goals to go to VAR.

Rashford got on the business end of a Daniel James cross, which came two moves after Victor Lindelof kicked Divock Origi as the Belgian lost possession with a sloppy touch. A foul if it’s called, but it wasn’t and VAR did not overrule it.

Mane then had a goal chalked off for a handball, VAR catching a touch most refs wouldn’t.

Liverpool took hold of the game shortly after halftime, but physical United continued its tight marking and heavy tackling.

Daniel James was waylaid on a 50/50 ball with Fabinho and play questionably went on as James lay on the turf with an apparent head injury.

Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain saw a deflected effort go wide in the 64th, as Jurgen Klopp took off Divock Origi and tried to find an answer to United’s back three.

The next sub was Adam Lallana for Jordan Henderson, as Liverpool had 20 minutes plus stoppage to find an equalizer.

He was the difference maker, as Robertson’s cross bounded through a sea of United defenders to meet him at the back post.

VAR allows Man Utd goal, overturns Mane as Liverpool trails at half

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Marcus Rashford has put Manchester United ahead at Liverpool, and the Reds are furious that VAR didn’t reverse the marker.

The English striker was on the business end of a Daniel James cross, which came two moves after Victor Lindelof kicked Divock Origi as the Belgian lost possession with a sloppy touch.

[ MORE: WATCH 2nd HALF LIVE ]

Scott McTominay picked up the ball and sent James down the right flank. Virgil Van Dijk played off the crosser, and Joel Matip couldn’t clear the effort and it reached Rashford who beat Alisson Becker.

Origi was certainly caught by Lindelof, and no one would’ve blinked had Martin Atkinson ruled it a foul, so perhaps the poor touch is what cost the Belgian his whistle?

VAR again worked against Liverpool minutes later when a long ball over the top glanced off Sadio Mane’s hand before the Senegalese scored a goal. It had a little impact on the play, but the rules are the rules when they are bad ones.

Either way, the Red Devils relish the chance to deny Liverpool its chance at history. The visitors are one win from matching PL records for consecutive wins and away wins.

Tuanzebe injured in warm-ups, Rojo now in Manchester United XI

Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Well then.

Manchester United’s announced XI has changed thanks to a presumed injury to center back Axel Tuanzebe.

Marcos Rojo will take the youngster’s place in a back three with Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof.

Liverpool and United kickoff from Old Trafford at 11:30 a.m. ET (Watch live at on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The 29-year-old Rojo has played four times this season, but just 30 minutes in the Premier League.

Phil Jones has been added to the bench.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Rojo, Young, Fred, McTominay, Pereira, James, Rashford. Subs: Romero, Mata, Martial, Jones, Greenwood, Garner, Williams.

Liverpool: Alisson, Robertson, Van Dijk, Matip, Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Mane, Origi, Firmino. Subs: Adrian, Lovren, Milner, Keita, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana.