Nov 19, 2013, 5:23 PM EDT
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.
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.
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.
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