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Cameron, 30, scored a bullet header to put the U.S. level at 1-1 in the key CONCACAF Cup playoff against Mexico at the Pasadena Rose Bowl last month but the USMNT ended up losing to El Tri 3-2 in extra time to put an exclamation mark on what’s been a disappointing few months for Klinsmann and his players.
Asked about that defeat to Mexico and the current negativity surrounding the USA’s play following a poor showing at the 2015 Gold Cup, a heavy friendly defeat to Brazil and the Mexico loss, Cameron didn’t mince his words.
“It was definitely disappointing. This might be the lowest point we’ve had with the national team but saying that we have got big shoulders and we can take the pressure and the criticism,” Cameron told ProSoccerTalk. “We know we haven’t been playing our best and we let the game slip away against Mexico. We might have not performed as well as we could. We didn’t dominate the game. Mexico had more possession and you can look at all the aspects but we showed the resilience of the U.S. in our attitude of never giving up, putting shifts in and sacrificing for one another. We did that. It was unfortunate that two minutes before going into penalties he [Paul Aguilar] scores a wondergoal. It was disappointing.”
In the USA’s last game, a 1-0 friendly loss against Costa Rica on Oct. 13, a small crowd showed up at Red Bull Arena and the U.S. was once again criticized for not performing against a familiar CONCACAF foe. Cameron — who started 10-straight games at center back for Stoke City in the Premier League this season and returned as a sub for the final 20 minutes of their win against Chelsea last Saturday after a thigh issue — believes focus in the upcoming games is key.
“Losing against Costa Rica, that was a game where maybe guys heads weren’t there fully… but there’s no excuses,” Cameron added. “We need to perform and do well. We have a few qualifiers coming up that we need to take advantage of in the next couple of weeks. We need to get some wins and set ourselves up for the next round.”
The U.S. plays St. Vincent and the Grenadines in St. Louis on Friday before traveling to face Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain next Tuesday in their two opening 2018 World Cup qualifiers. The Road to Russia has begun.
But as World Cup qualifying begins, there has still been plenty of criticism of Klinsmann and the players leading up to these games. Asked if that was fair, Cameron insisted everyone has to take responsibility for a rough few months but believes these qualifiers provide the U.S. with the chance to turn things around. Just like they always have done.
“We all know that as individuals we need to perform, we need to do better. It doesn’t come down just to Jurgen. It comes down to us as players as well. He picks the team and the players he thinks are doing well and playing but us as individuals we need to perform. If individuals aren’t performing then it is not fair to just criticize one person,” Cameron said. “You have to criticize everybody. We need to do that and work well as one like we were before the World Cup. I think that maybe we are on a bit of a downward spiral. We need to be able to turn that around and with the U.S. we’ve always been able to turn it around. Hopefully these upcoming games will give us a chance to do that.”