KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Geoff Cameron has grown to embrace his roles as right back for club and utility player for country, but US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann still wants to see him push harder for a spot in central defense for both.
And the Stoke City fixture might get his first chance with country, with starter Omar Gonzalez sidelined with a hip injury, when the national team takes on Jamaica in Friday’s World Cup qualifier at Sporting Park (6:30 pm ET, ESPN/UniMas).
“He's versatile, and this is a plus, but I think still that the best position of Geoff Cameron is the center back,” Klinsmann said during a news conference on Thursday. “We always tell him, 'Go and kick somebody out at Stoke City,' and then we'll be happy that he's playing in that place game in and game out at Stoke. That's the next step for him.”
That might not be so easily done, Cameron told reporters before Thursday's training session, but he's up for giving it a shot.
“Obviously, when you have [Stoke captain Ryan] Shawcross and Robert Huth, who've been there for six or seven years, it's always a tough way to break down – especially a solid partnership like that,” he said. “But we're playing a different style of football this year, so that might favor toward my style of play and my ability, my technical ability.
"So as of right now, I'm fighting for a right back spot week in and week out. But you know if there are injuries that ever happen or something like that, I have filled in in practice, sliding in as a center back. So I guess I just have to wait my turn and just keep playing week in and week out and hopefully get an opportunity in there and finally prove myself.”
“Matt and I have been paired up a few times with one another in training, so we both have a pretty good understanding of each other's ability,” Cameron said. “I think we're both – we both kind of have to keep the reins on it a little bit because we're both eager to step in with the ball because we're both kind of offensive minded in that aspect. But I think we both read the game well, and I think that should complement each other.”
Besler, who broke into the United States' roster this year and has built a solid partnership with Gonzalez in the back, told MLSsoccer.com that he expects to pair well with whoever's next to him.
“I enjoy playing with Omar, and you never like to see a guy miss out for an injury, but it's part of the game and it happens every camp that there's guys that can't play due to injury,” Besler said. “That's what a team is all about. That's why we have 23 guys here, and we've developed chemistry with almost every single player out there on the field. So it shouldn't be an issue.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.