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Which United States player helped himself most Tuesday in Austria?

Nov 19, 2013, 5:23 PM EDT

Cameron-Austria

It’s tough to name a Man of the Match on a loss. So let’s do something else instead …

Here is the one U.S. man who helped himself the most Tuesday against Austria in terms of where he stands in the U.S. player pool: Geoff Cameron.

In the end, it may not be enough to displace Steve Cherundolo if the longtime U.S. incumbent at right back can ever get himself healthy. But it certainly gives U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann food for thought as he scans for better options along the right.

Ironically, Cameron (pictured above, on the right) may have been given the start at right back Tuesday because of Brad Evans’ hamstring tweak. No matter … Cameron made the best of his chance.

As it is, Cameron stands in a good place when we talk about those 23 roster spots available for Brazil – a.k.a. “pure gold” in any soccer player’s career. But it’s his versatility that has become so valuable, as he is able to fill in adequately at center back, right back or even holding midfield.

But Tuesday he suddenly stood out as perhaps – perhaps – the best starting option at right back this side of a healthy Cherundolo.

(MORE: U.S. finishes 2013 with a 1-0 loss to Austria)

His tackling was aggressive and sure, even on treacherously slick pitch. That’s no surprise considering he is a second-year starter in the Premier League, where no defender survives long without dependable ability in ball-winning chores.

But it was Cameron’s passing that stood out at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion in Vienna. Rather than being satisfied with the safe option, which we have seen so much with Evans, Michael Parkhurst or Michael Orozco in the role, the Stoke City right back looked immediately forward. His early balls into Aron Johannsson, playing as an attacking central midfielder, got the United States into its offense quickly several times.

Cameron’s long legs and steady pace mean he can get forward but still retreat with reliable speed. And he looked quite comfortable with the ball once into the final third.

Heck, the guy even scored a goal. It’s not his fault if match officials dropped the ball on this one.

(MORE: Video of Geoff Cameron’s goal for the United States … that wasn’t counted)

Don’t forget, this is a guy who once played regularly as an attacking midfielder for Houston.

Previously, Cameron’s only shot at right back in a U.S. shirt had been against a powerful, talented Belgian side. He didn’t look great – but no one is a U.S. kit looked very good that day. Cameron took the opportunity Tuesday to put himself into the U.S. Best XI conversation once again.

(MORE: NBCSN highlights of Tuesday match)

  1. hildezero - Nov 19, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    Cameron is probably the best US rb.

  2. 76bean - Nov 19, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    Geoff Cameron needs to go to Brazil. He’s one of the best American players.

  3. dfstell - Nov 19, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    Gasp….you mean we should let a guy who plays RB professionally for a club in one of the best leagues in the world actually play for us in the position?

    Of course he should be playing there for us. He’s a completely competent EPL fullback. People can prattle on about how he is a CB playing out of position, but the fact is that he’s played the most impactful soccer of his career as a right back.

  4. imagreatguy76 - Nov 19, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    Steve, I love you man, but your insistence on holding that right back spot for Cherundolo seems a bit too much like wishful thinking to me. After the long injury layoff he’s had, isn’t it rather unlikely he’s going to be able to stay healthy and work himself into World Cup form, especially given his age? I’m not picking on ya…I’ve seen a lot of other “pundits” holding out that same hope – even Jurgen himself. I guess what that really speaks to is the state of the right back position (and even the whole back line in general).

    • Steve Davis - Nov 19, 2013 at 6:48 PM

      It’s OK to “pick on me!” … So long as you make good arguments (which you have), it’s all good. But here is the deal: I get to talk to the U.S. coaches and staff … and I am telling you, THEY still believe Cherundolo can get back and contribute. Beside, I happen to think he is one of the most underrated performers of the USMNT program of the last 10 years. If he’s healthy and performing well for Hannover, he’ll be in Brazil. And probably starting. Trust me here.

      • imagreatguy76 - Nov 19, 2013 at 7:00 PM

        Well I absolutely agree with you there – Cherundolo has been underrated for a long time. I’d love nothing more than to see him performing at a high level in Brazil…it would certainly make me feel better about our back line if he was there.

      • joeyt360 - Nov 19, 2013 at 8:00 PM

        I must confess. . . I still believe.

    • schmutzdeck - Nov 19, 2013 at 10:47 PM

      Assuming Dolo can get healthy and in form then he will be Hannover’s starter.

      And if he is that why should he be denied a place with the USMNT?. Cameron was always going to go to Brazil; his versatility demands that and tonight just showed you how valuable he can be as a swiss army knife.

      But he can’t provide the width on the right side and the kind of crossing that Dolo can. As was noted elsewhere there was no width tonight and Cameron’s best offensive moves are on set pieces; and the US already has many tall trees.

      Moreover, everyone is underestimating how valuable Dolo’s experience and leadership are. Cameron is still a comparative international newbie. Without Dolo and DMB the US would have a back four with 0 World Cup games experience. I happen .to think that matters, especially on defense.

  5. kurgen99 - Nov 19, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    Cameron is going for his versatility alone.
    I have a hard time seeing Dolo playing at right back in Brazil.

    Has he even played for Klinsmann?

    • Steve Davis - Nov 19, 2013 at 8:24 PM

      Klinsmann wanted to call in Cherundolo for the May / June friendlies and qualifiers. They talked … and mutually decided that he needed to heal up, that it was the best thing for all involved.
      (But, yes … Cherundolo started nine times for Klinsmann in 2012)

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