photo by John Todd/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
There has been a lot of talk and debate about what position Geoff Cameron should see time in at this summer’s World Cup, and now we might have an idea as to where exactly Jurgen Klinnsman envisions deploying his jack of all trades.
Klinsmann said Wednesday that he thinks Cameron’s best position is centerback, a not entirely surprising remark given but one that possibly sheds light into where Cameron is more likely to play once the U.S. Men’s National Team begins its pre-World Cup friendlies next week.
Cameron spent the majority of the past season with Stoke City at right back and enjoyed much success there. He also played in that spot in some recent matches with the U.S., but Klinsmann all that has still not convinced Klinsmann to deploy the versatile Cameron on the outside part of the defense rather than in the middle of it.
“I said over three years that I think his best position is centerback and it’s good to know that he can play right back, too,” said Klinsmann. “It’s good to know that he can play a (defensive midfield role), too. His best fit, I think, his best game for himself is the centerback role.”
The 28-year-old defender would not unveil to reporters on Thursday just what position he has spent more during the U.S.’s pre-World Cup camp, but it sounds as if he is at least seeing some time at centerback. That was never unexpected given Klinsmann’s preference for fullbacks who can overlap and jump into the attack consistently, but means that the Americans’ starting centerback tandem could be Cameron and Matt Besler once the games get underway in Brazil next month.
“If the person is fast, slow, quick or does he like to step in early, do I have to cover his step in,” said Cameron of the process he uses to familiarize himself with centerback. “Just making sure if we’re communicating to each other. Is a guy falling off my right shoulder and I don’t know, is my right back talking to me telling me, ‘Hey there’s a guy behind, watch a cross.’
“Little things like that make a big difference and I think that’s where training and everybody getting comfortable with one another helps because the more you train with everybody the more comfortable you become.”
Cameron added that he played centerback for Stoke this past season, but only “a couple” of times. The lack of repetitions there now means he will likely have to play catch up in the comings weeks in order to iron out the kinks and develop chemistry in the heart of the U.S. defense, if that is where Klinsmann deploys him.
Omar Gonzalez and Besler have been the preferred tandem at centerback for much of the past year-and-a-half, but the former has made a number of errors in recent outings with the U.S. and that has raised concerns as to if he will be able to cope against the likes of Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, Germany stalwart Thomas Muller and Ghana’s ever-dangerous Asamoah Gyan in Group G action in a few weeks.
Cameron has not faced those players recently, but he has gone up and performed well against his fair share of talented Premiership attackers over the course of the past two seasons. While most of that time has come with him serving as a right back, he has shown in a pinch that he can be serviceable centrally as well. In fact, he was a first-choice centerback for Klinsmann earlier this cycle.
Now, Cameron just needs to familiarize himself with the position again in order to stake a claim for a starting spot in what will be the fist World Cup of his career.
“I’m taking that on board and if I’m playing centerback, I’m putting 150 percent in,” said Cameron of Klinsmann’s Wednesday comments. “For me, it doesn’t really matter. I’m very comfortable there. Just give me a few reps and the more you practice the more you get better at it, the more you feel comfortable, so for me, playing centerback is what I want (and) I want to be on the field, most importantly.
“If that’s what he sees, then I’m all for it.”