HOUSTON – Breaking into the US national team is a tough thing to do. For Houston Dynamo defender Geoff Cameron, all he wants is another shot.
Cameron has been called into USMNT camp three times, twice for the January clearinghouse past US coaches have used to gauge MLS and Scandinavia-based players. But injuries and depth chart issues have produced just a cameo appearance in 2010 against El Salvador for the versatile defender.
With January call-ups set to be announced in the coming weeks, Cameron is hoping that his commitment to center back and the new style of play under first-year head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will give him a “fair chance” to claim a spot in the elite squad for himself.
“I was called into a few camps with Bob [Bradley] and I don’t think I was given a fair opportunity because he already had his guys picked,” Cameron recently told MLSsoccer.com by phone.
With a change in leadership, Cameron seems like a logical choice to get his shot soon. Klinsmann has said stated his preferences for defenders who have the skill to possess and play the ball out of the back.
If that is the criteria, Cameron fits the bill.
At 6-foot-3, Cameron is a center back that provides a physical aerial presence while having the ball skills of a midfielder – a position he has spent most of his MLS career playing. In fact, Cameron was the top-rated central midfield in the Castrol Index through much of the 2011 season.
That skill set has many eager to see him added to the national team mix.
While the speculation game is fun to play, Cameron is not getting caught up in projections. After all, as a veteran of these camps, he knows first hand how tough it can be to impress in such a short time frame.
“I couldn’t control the circumstances before, but now I just want a fair opportunity during the season, when there’s a three- or four-day camp and you go in and train when you’re at the highest level and fit and in top form,” Cameron said. “I think it’s one of those that when you’re in season, fit and playing your best, it’s good to get the shot then. I haven’t had one of those chances like that.”
With the camp slated to start Jan. 3, Cameron has cleared one hurdle to take advantage of a possible call up, as on Thursday he was cleared by doctors to resume full training. The defender took a knock in the first half of the MLS Cup final but finished the game and has been in recovery mode ever since.
Now back to full training, he says he'll be prepared if he receives the call he has been awaiting.
“You want to be called into the national team when you’re fit and in form and I’ve always wanted one of those opportunities,” Cameron said. “But you can’t be picky – any opportunity I get, I’ll look to take advantage of it.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com