Geoff Cameron is back at it. After giving an in-depth New York Times interview last week, the USMNT defender had more he wanted to say. A Players' Tribune article was published on Friday as the Stoke City player spoke about how he feels U.S. Soccer needs to move forward, a timely piece given the U.S. Soccer Federation presidential election on Saturday.
In the aforementioned New York Times piece, Cameron spoke candidly about various aspects of the World Cup qualifying campaign, where he thought it went wrong and what he might have done differently. In the article, he touched on that but also focused more on what U.S. Soccer needs to do moving forward.
— Geoff Cameron (@GeoffCameron) February 9, 2018
That’s not to say Cameron didn’t spend more time bashing Bruce Arena — in fact, he expounded upon his opinion that the coach was the reason the U.S. failed to qualify. He also discussed youth soccer in America, the MLS/Europe-based divide among USMNT players and the USSF presidential election.
Because it’s almost the weekend and you’ve got other shit to do, here’s a quick rundown on the seven most important points.
Geoff Cameron Still Blames Bruce Arena
It doesn’t take long for the article to bash Bruce Arena, though the first blow is a subtle one. Cameron calls Arena part of an “old-school regime” that hasn’t adapted to the changing soccer culture in America. Cameron also doubled down on his belief Jurgen Klinsmann was the better coach for the job.
In discussing the Trinidad and Tobago debacle, Cameron called out Arena for using a 4-1-3-2 formation with just one defensive midfielder against an athletic team on a sloppy pitch. That night, after the loss, Arena threw his two center backs Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler (Cameron was left on the bench) under the bus, saying they “couldn’t dribble out of the back.” This clearly pissed off Cameron, not because he’s probably the best dribbler among U.S. center backs, but because Arena should have known better than to rely on dribbling out of the back with one defensive midfielder to link with on a flooded field.
Geoff Cameron Believes There’s A ‘Poisonous’ Divide Between MLS And Europe-Based USMNT Players
One factor Cameron believes played a role in the U.S. failing to qualify was the division between USMNT players who play in MLS and those who play in Europe. One would think Europe-based players would be shown deference for going abroad to challenge themselves more than what you get in MLS. Cameron doesn’t see it that way.
“The powers that be in U.S. Soccer have created a poisonous divide between the MLS players and the so-called ‘European’ players, and until that culture is torn down, the USMNT will continue to slide backwards,” Cameron wrote.
Like Jurgen Klinsmann, Geoff Cameron Understands The Mentality It Takes To Play Overseas
While MLS is an improving league and one that has many high-level players, going overseas is more than just playing against top talent, Cameron said.
“It’s not just the level of ‘quality’ that’s elevated overseas,” Cameron said. “It’s more than that. It’s a whole mentality. In the top leagues in Europe, it’s just … ruthless.”
Cameron speaks of the need to go out every day in training and give it your all just to ensure your spot on the roster, something he feels is lacking in MLS.
Geoff Cameron Wants The Next Christian Pulisics To Go Abroad, Now
One point Cameron makes that I’m not sure I agree with is that U.S. Soccer feels it is losing a player when someone goes from MLS to Europe. While many MLS clubs are greedy and focused not on what’s best for players, I think most in U.S. Soccer want American players to succeed abroad. In a way, I think he’s hinting at U.S. exceptionalism preventing U.S. Soccer from realizing its full potential.
That said, Cameron wants as many young Americans playing in Europe as possible. He called out Kellyn Acosta, for one, as a player who needs to move abroad as soon as possible.
Geoff Cameron Shit-Talked Youth Soccer In America
As a product of U.S. youth soccer himself, from clubs to college to MLS, perhaps no one is more qualified to speak of its shortcomings than Cameron. He argued against the far-too-common idea in the U.S. that size and athleticism are the two most important factors to succeed. It’s a toxic mentality, he said.
“It’s about what you did last year,” Cameron wrote. “It’s about who you know. It’s about your size. It’s about your reputation. It’s about what fancy youth club you play for.”
In particular, Cameron called out club coaches who will take their teams on expensive trips to train at Barcelona’s academy and are too proud or stubborn to ask the Barca coaches any questions.
“Half of them are carrying themselves like they’re Pep Guardiola. I mean, the arrogance. It’s unbelievable,” Cameron said. “It’s not about you, man. You coach kids. It’s about the kids.”
Geoff Cameron Wants Change In The U.S. Soccer Presidential Election
U.S. Soccer will have its first contested presidential election in about two decades on Saturday. Of the eight candidates in the running, two are considered status quo candidates: Kathy Carter and Carlos Cordeiro. Cameron clearly wants won of the change candidates to win.
“We need a president and a national team manager who embrace that mentality,” Cameron said. “The next four years starts this weekend.”
Finally, Cameron Laments Not Going To The 2018 World Cup
The overarching theme was that the American is still reeling from the idea that he will not be playing in the World Cup this summer. At 32, this was likely Cameron’s final opportunity to play on the world’s biggest stage.
Many of Cameron’s thoughts or criticisms can be read as sour grapes, a player expressing his anger and frustration over a failure that — as he readily admits — was partly his fault. But overall he expresses a feeling that many American soccer fans share.
“We’re not going to recapture the magic we all felt during the 2014 World Cup, when Clint scored that goal in the first minute against Ghana,” Cameron said. “We all remember how we felt when it hit the back of the net, and it breaks my heart that this summer we’re really not going to be a part of it.”
Same, Geoff. Same.