Friday, January 20, 2012

Cameron brings presence and positive attitude to US backline

Geoff Cameron has been a standout for the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer, and has not only lead the Dynamo into the MLS Cup this past season, but also received a recent call-up to the US National team.

His play is worthy of national team consideration, but it's his presence and positive attitude that have been key components in his success. Ridge Mahoney of Soccer America writes of how and why Cameron has been able to break into the national team.

Since breaking into MLS with Houston in 2008, Cameron has bounced between midfield and the back line. He’s done well enough in both places – including a Best XI mention as a defender in 2009 – to merit some mention of national-team potential. His size (6-foot-3, 190 pounds), aggressiveness, and comfort on the ball set him apart in MLS, as not many American players can meld those attributes. Yet not until Dynamo head coach declared in mid-September that he would play centerback, period, did Cameron seize the role and its responsibility.

“I take pride in going against guys across the league,” says Cameron, a native of Attleboro, Mass., who played collegiately at Rhode Island and West Virginia. “I think, ‘I’m not going to let this guy beat me today. He’s not going to get the best of me.’ Having that attitude is making sure you’re playing well day-in and day-out. If a guy’s down on the field, you’ve got to be positive and not bitching at him. Guys react better when they’re talked to. ‘Let’s go, bud, I know you got it in you.’ I make plenty of mistakes but you can’t dwell on them.”

By moving Cameron to centerback and stationing Adam Moffat and Luiz Camargo in the middle of midfield, Kinnear toughened the spine of his team and gave playmaker Brad Davis -- who led the league with 16 assists -- a firmer foundation. Houston conceded five goals while finishing the season with a six-match unbeaten streak, then edged past Philadelphia and Sporting Kansas City in the playoffs while allowing just one goal. A 1-0 loss to the Galaxy on its home field in MLS Cup ended the season on a sour note yet even in defeat, Cameron and his teammates had found an identity, especially in defense.

“We kind of had a cool thing in the back about keeping a clean sheet,” says Cameron of Houston’s defensive unit. “We called it our ‘Alcatraz,’ we don’t want people coming in and trying to beat our back four, kind of hold it down like a prison. We joked about that but in games we took it seriously. Guys were given opportunities in the back to step up and that led up top to the forwards. As a collective group, it jelled us and helped us start that run.”

Great teams tend to be built around a foundation of players with the mentality of Geoff Cameron - taking pride in helping their team find success, and picking teammates up when they need them. It's amazing what you can accomplish when no one cares who receives the credit, and apparently Geoff Cameron understands and appreciates that his success is drawn from the overall success of his group.

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