101113_camerongeoff_isi_usmntjt090513116 John Todd/isiphotos.com
The Dark Heart of Defense

Geoff Cameron in Position for Center Back Slot

Too much of a good thing? That might be the case for the man who plays different positions at Stoke City, on the United States national team, and when he lines himself up in FIFA.
BY Jon Arnold Posted
October 11, 2013
10:00 AM
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Like the actor in the "Before" video of a mattress infomercial, Geoff Cameron can't stay in the same position.

Jurgen Klinsmann wants him to get comfortable at center back. His club manager, Mark Hughes, utilizes him on the right. The player himself says he feels best when playing center defensive midfield.

Cameron's adaptability has been a blessing and a curse on the international stage.

"He's versatile, this is a plus, but I think still that the best, best position of Geoff Cameron is center back, and we always tell him, 'Go and kick somebody out at Stoke City in that role.'" Klinsmann said at a news conference Thursday. "But we are happy that he's playing at least from the beginning on game in, game out at Stoke. But the next step for him is push somebody out to the right back and get into the center back role."

That sounds like an easy solution for Cameron. If he can find his way to center back with his club, he could start getting more work there with his country, and end up starting at the 2014 World Cup. Except there are only two of those spots for the Potters, and they've been occupied for a while. One of them is taken by the captain.

"I think obviously when you have (Ryan) Shawcross and Robert Huth who have been there for six or seven years, it's always a tough way to break down, especially a solid partnership like that," Cameron said before training Thursday. "But we're playing a different style of football this year, so that might favor toward my style of play and my technical ability."

While he isn't rooting for anybody to get hurt, his best chance to match his club position with the one he plays with the national team might be an injury to a club teammate.

"As of right now, I'm fighting for a right back spot week in, week out, but you know if there's injuries that ever happen or something like that," he said. "I have filled in at practice sliding in as a center back, so I guess I just have to wait my turn, just keep playing week in, week out, and hopefully get an opportunity in there and finally prove myself."

Klinsmann's desire for Cameron to get reps at center back is understandable. He hasn't thrilled when lining up at right back for the national team and pairing Cameron with Matt Besler, as he could Friday when the U.S. takes on Jamaica here in a World Cup Qualifier, might shore up a back line that has been prone to errors.

"We've had to try out different variations in the center back roles and defensive line because that's just the situation, and I think we came also a long way there, having now players who really push hard to be the starters there," Klinsmann said. "Geoff Cameron is one of them. It gives us options. It's good to have."

The potential of partnering with Besler is one area where player and coach came together.

"I think Matt and I have been paired up a few times with one another in trainings," Cameron said. "We both have a pretty good understanding of our abilities. We just kind of have to keep the reins on it a little bit because we're both eager to step into the ball cause we're both kind of offensive-minded in that aspect. I think we read the game well. I think that should compliment each other."

No matter how Klinsmann chooses to use the reins, Cameron is chomping at the bit to prove he should be a starter at whatever position. That should have U.S. fans sleeping easy.

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