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Where should Geoff Cameron play for the U.S. national team?

May 22, 2014, 9:40 AM EST

Geoff Cameron AP

Right back? Central defense? Holding midfield?

This dude Geoff Cameron is perhaps the most versatile players the U.S. national team has on their roster and is also the only outfield player to have played regular in the Premier League for the past two seasons.

He simply has to slot into the USA’s starting lineup somewhere… but where?

Cameron, 28, has developed into one of Jurgen Klinsmann’s most reliable options across the backline over the past three seasons. Yet when asked about Cameron’s best position at the USA’s training camp at Stanford University on Wednesday, Klinsmann told reporters that Cameron’s best position is as a central defender. Right off the bat, that causes quite a few issues.

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Number one, throughout the last six to 12 months the preferred center back pairing of Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler hasn’t done too much wrong in CONCACAF qualifying games. Number two, Cameron has played almost exclusively as a right back for Stoke who finished ninth in the PL this season and has also started there for the U.S. in that same time period. Number three, three center backs into two doesn’t go, so one of Cameron, Gonzalez or Besler will find themselves on the sidelines at the World Cup this summer.

Cameron’s play has been solid all season in the PL, with bigger clubs sniffing around him and the former Houston Dynamo standout even bagging two goals. Many forget that Cameron started off the World Cup qualifying campaign as the USMNT’s first choice center back pairing alongside Carlos Bocanegra with Clarence Goodson. Cameron was then switched to right back when Steven Cherundolo’s injuries curtailed his U.S. career and the Stoke defender has stayed at right back ever since for the U.S. with only a few appearances at center back and center mid since.

source: AP

Cameron’s size, poise on the ball and pace make him a perfect option at center back this summer.

He is comfortable on the ball, great in the air and has dealt with the pace of Premier League attackers for the past two seasons. Cameron can also operate just as effectively as a holding midfielder but with Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones the preferred options there, all of a sudden it seems as though Cameron is in a straight fight for two center back spots with Gonzalez and Besler. In terms of Klinsmann’s criteria (USMNT players testing themselves at the highest level week in, week out) that he set out way back when, Cameron has ticked all of those boxes.

Should he start at center back in the World Cup opener against Ghana on June 16? With several options at right back and holding midfield set, that would make the USA extremely strong. In my opinion Cameron should start alongside Besler, even though the Sporting Kansas City captain has forged a great partnership with Gonzalez in recent months. The latter struggled against Mexico in Arizona during the March friendly and question marks have to be raised over his ability to distribute the ball and deal with pacey attackers at the highest level.

After watching Cameron closely all season over in England for Stoke, Klinsmann simply has to find a way to get him in to the starting lineup at the World Cup this summer.

If he doesn’t the U.S. national team could suffer.

  1. midtec2005 - May 22, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    This is an incredibly tough question to answer, but I’d say put him at right back since he’s been playing there, and that’s a week spot for the team. But even though I think he’s certainly one of the 11 most talented players, I’m not sure he starts. Making a lineup is not easy. Hopefully Jurgen makes the best choice.

  2. jaxfootballing - May 22, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    A pairing of Cameron with Besler is intriguing as Omar Gonzalez does seem to have lapses of concentration. I actually like Brad Evans as a right back. Not really sold on Demarcus Beasley as a left back. Fabian Johnson should own that position. Jonathan Brooks is too raw for consideration as a central defender – I would take Goodsen to Brasil.

    It seems as though JK prefers the Gonzalez/Besler pairing as the central backs but I would hope that he switches things around during camp with Goodsen and Cameron in the mix to see who has the best chemistry. The lack of a consistent and solid left, right back situation makes it imperative that the starting CB positions are well grounded.

    JK has his work cut out for him…..

  3. mbfloyd1 - May 22, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    I think Cameron starts regardless of position. If Chandler does not make the team, then Cameron will be at RB and will have to stay home and we will need Zusi or Bedoya on that right side; if Chandler at RB, then Cameron at CB. Gonzalez subs.

  4. gloryostrich - May 22, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    IMO, when CR7 comes blazing down the flank I’d feel a little bit more comfortable with a proven EPL defender being able to get in his way before he cuts to the middle.

  5. rafibomb10 - May 22, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    He is built like a center back, or a holding midfielder. He is out of place playing along the flank, and a Ronaldo type of player will torch him. I think he has the ability to be in the starting 11, but I’m not sure he gets the nod, as Omar and Jones stand in his way at those positions.

    It all depends on what Jurgi wants to do with Fabian Johnson. If he thinks Johnson is best being deployed at Right Back, the Cameron will be in a pickle. If Johnson lines up at Left Back, Cameron will probably start at right back.

  6. chadmoon1 - May 22, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    Cameron is a top 4 defender on this squad. Therefore, I can think of no viable reason why he should not be in the starting 11.

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