US national team defender Geoff Cameron has pulled no punches about the struggles currently bedeviling Jurgen Klinsmann's side, telling NBC ProSoccerTalk that the USMNT is in a “downward spiral” that must be arrested immediately with positive results in this month's World Cup qualifiers vs. St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago.
With a woeful Gold Cup campaign followed by a stinging 3-2 extra-time loss to Mexico in last month's CONCACAF Cup, many USMNT fans are frustrated as the 2018 cycle begins with matches in St. Louis on Friday and Port-of-Spain on Tuesday. And Cameron, one of the Yanks' scorers on that sultry night in Pasadena, California, made clear that he recognizes the situation.
“This might be the lowest point we’ve had with the national team, but saying that, we have got big shoulders and we can take the pressure and the criticism,” he said, speaking before he departed his club team, English Premier League side Stoke City, for this week's USMNT camp.
“We know we haven’t been playing our best and we let the game slip away against Mexico. We might have not performed as well as we could. We didn’t dominate the game. Mexico had more possession and you can look at all the aspects, but we showed the resilience of the US in our attitude of never giving up, putting shifts and in sacrificing for one another. We did that. It was unfortunate that two minutes before going into penalties [Mexico's Paul Aguilar] scores a wondergoal. It was disappointing.”
The heartbreak at the Rose Bowl was compounded by a sleepwalking display in a friendly loss to Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena, a game where Cameron admitted “maybe guys' heads weren’t there fully.”
It all adds up to a team with something to prove, not only to their supporters, but to their coach and themselves.
“There’s no excuses,” Cameron said. “We need to perform and do well. We have a few qualifiers coming up that we need to take advantage of in the next couple of weeks. We need to get some wins and set ourselves up for the next round.
“We all know that as individuals we need to perform, we need to do better. It doesn’t come down just to Jurgen. It comes down to us as players as well. He picks the team and the players he thinks are doing well and playing, but us as individuals, we need to perform.”
The former Houston Dynamo star is likely to play a pivotal role for the Yanks when the road to Russia begins vs. St. Vincent & the Grenadines at Busch Stadium Friday (6:30 pm ET; ESPN2, UniMás, UDN), though it's unclear whether he'll feature in central defense, deep midfield or right back. Much like his teammate Jermaine Jones did earlier in the week, Cameron urges unity and accountability at this difficult moment.
“If individuals aren’t performing then it is not fair to just criticize one person,” he said. “You have to criticize everybody. We need to do that and work well as one, like we were before the World Cup. I think that maybe we are on a bit of a downward spiral. We need to be able to turn that around, and with the US, we’ve always been able to turn it around. Hopefully these upcoming games will give us a chance to do that.”