SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – You can mark Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford, you can stop Jerry Bengtson in the Estadio Olimpico.
At least, that's what Geoff Cameron is hoping after a remarkably successful first semester in the English Premier League. The Stoke City defender is now hoping to use his experiences in England to his further advantage when the US take on Honduras in the Hexagonal opener here on Wednesday (4 pm ET, beIN Sport, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
Cameron has become a regular in central defense under US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, and could well be called upon at the Estadio Olímpico. If he is in the lineup, the former Houston Dynamo defender will have plenty of recent experience to bring to bear, after facing off against the Premier League’s best forwards over the last six months.
“It’s been fantastic, playing against the best competition in the world,” Cameron said before the US walkthrough at the stadium on Tuesday. “Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Man U – playing against the top players in the world, for me as player, it’s been fantastic.
“It makes you challenge yourself in terms of the level you want to be at, and the level you can reach, when you’re playing against [Wayne] Rooney, [Fernando] Torres and guys like that. You know how special those guys are, and you can maybe use the level of playing against them, and bring it down here.”
Cameron also believes that the hostile road environments he faces on a semi-weekly basis in the EPL can help him to deal with what is sure to be an aggressively belligerent crowd here on Wednesday afternoon.
“When you’re playing in the EPL, the crowds are tremendous, they’re loud, they’re passionate, they’re tremendous,” he said. “So it’s similar to the aspect here of the hostile environment. But saying that, European teams can’t really copy the feeling here. But overall you know what to expect – that the fans aren’t going to be great to you. But you have to use that in a way of motivating yourself, getting that adrenaline going.”
Whether Cameron will have a chance to get his adrenaline going from the start on Wednesday is still up in the air, since Klinsmann called in a pair of MLS-based center backs into the national team discussion during January camp. Rather than worry about losing his spot to the up-and-coming Omar Gonzalez or Matt Besler, however, Cameron says he welcomes the competition.
“Omar, he’s a strong guy who you’re not going to muscle off the ball,” he said. “And Matt, he’s a solid player, with good vision. There’s a lot of competition, which is good.”
As far as the match with itself, Cameron has a general level of understanding of just what the US are up against. The former MLS defender has familiarized himself with a number of his Catrachos opponents first hand, since several of the Hondurans who could line up in attack have featured for the Dynamo in recent seasons.
“They’re a dangerous team,” Cameron said. “Boniek García, Bengtson, Carlo Costly are guys I played with, and they’re dangerous players. We’re familiar with some of their players and we’re not familiar with some.
“I feel pretty comfortable and confident, but you have to go out there and adjust on the fly and try to read the play quick, break down their forwards as fast as you can. We have just got to go out there with the same attitude we always have and match their intensity.”