World Cup 2014

World Cup: Jurgen Klinsmann makes it clear – Geoff Cameron will play center back for USMNT

STANFORD, Calif. – Geoff Cameron is a center back. Jurgen Klinsmann reiterated that on Friday, a day after he named his final 23-man US national team roster for next month’s World Cup.

Whether that puts him in the starting lineup is another question, as Omar Gonzalez is in a race to regain fitness from a recent knee injury before the US open their tournament on June 16 vs. Ghana.

“[I’ve said] it often over the last three years,” Klinsmann told reporters after his press conference at Stanford University. “I always saw Geoff as a center back first of all.”

Cameron was Stoke City’s regular right back for most of the just-completed English Premier League season, and served in that capacity a handful of times for Klinsmann’s national team.

But the majority of his 22 caps during Klinsmann’s tenure the past three years – including 13 World Cup qualifiers – have come in the heart of defense, a place he played only twice for Stoke in 2013-14.

As of Thursday evening, it became a numbers game. With Clarence Goodson among the seven cuts, Cameron is left as the most experienced of the remaining quartet that also includes presumed starter Matt Besler and 21-year-old John Brooks.

“We knew that when it came to World Cup preparation, we had a month to work on those position issues,” Klinsmann said. “And it was clear to us before we went to camp that we thought of him as a center back.”

That’s fine with Cameron, who has enthusiastically accepted the assignment – especially if it puts him in the running for minutes in Brazil.

“I’m comfortable there,” the former Houston Dynamo defender/midfielder told reporters on Thursday. “… For me, playing center back is what I want. What I want is to be on the field most importantly. So if that’s what [Klinsmann] sees, I’m all for it.”

Jonah Freedman is the managing editor of MLSsoccer.com