Geoff Cameron’s Commanding Performance

 

Geoff Cameron was everywhere against Panama. (Photo: ISIphotos.com)
Geoff Cameron was everywhere against Panama. (Photo: ISIphotos.com)

 

In Brazil, at least on the Seleção, the midfield destroyer or the cabeça de área, wears number five, whereas this role is often associated with the number 6 in Europe.

 

Nevertheless, Geoff Cameron played this role for the United States Men’s National Team against Panama, but Cameron went above and beyond the midfield destroyer role with his elegant passing and attacking forays.

 

Cameron was one of the most noticeable players on the field against Panama due to height, physique, tireless running, and his excellent technical play.

 

Against Panama, according to Major League Soccer’s official site’s Chalkboard feature, Cameron completed 47 of 56 passes, recovered the ball 11 times, made 7 interceptions, made 6 clearances, won five tackles, and delivered one assist.

 

While Panama isn’t one of the elite soccer nations, it is nevertheless an athletic and skilled national team that is an appropriate barometer of the skill of a player. Against Panama, Cameron showed how he is a complete midfielder and a commanding presence on the field.

 

Cameron received praised for the chip he floated to Eddie Johnson, who controlled the pass and finished with excellent left-footed technique and coolness in front of the net, but Cameron produced 90 minutes of one-to-two touch soccer characterized by graceful inside and outside of the foot passes that kept the ball circulating in the midfield and encouraged a higher-caliber of passing than even the Jermaine Jones and Michael Bradley combination could deliver.

 

Cameron’s smooth athleticism and refined fundamentals have been on display for years, but the game against Panama raised his public profile among many Americans and others as he showed how a defensive midfielder role didn’t restrict the defensive midfielder to merely playing defense and sitting back.

 

Somewhat like Clint Dempsey, Cameron lives for the big games, and Cameron isn’t willing to try things whether they be 40 yard outside of the foot passes or headed shots from 25 yards out to catch the goalkeeper off guard.

 

Jermaine Jones is a Champions League and Bundesliga veteran and a different type of player than Cameron, so both players are excellent overall footballers with a lot to offer.

 

Cameron’s performance presents the USMNT with the opportunity to unleash Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, and Geoff Cameron against an opponent at the same time, if tactics called for it. While using all three in a starting line-up would be the so-called Christmas Tree formation (4-3-2-1), the formation wouldn’t be without skilled passers and talented defenders.

 

Cameron could be started in place of Jones, but there could be a time where an opponent will need to be confronted with three powerful and technically-skilled central midfielders who each offer a complete set of midfield skills and qualities.

USMNT: Skilled Front Six Beats Panama

 

Eddie Johnson (right) and Clint Dempsey (left). (Photo: JOSHUA TRUJILLO, SEATTLEPI.COM)
Eddie Johnson (right) and Clint Dempsey (left). (Photo: JOSHUA TRUJILLO, SEATTLEPI.COM)

 

Jürgen Klinsmann didn’t have the option of using two of his first choice players (Graham Zusi and Jermaine Jones), and the United States Men’s National Team played its best soccer under Klinsmann’s tenure.

 

More so than in any other game under Klinsmann, the front six players in front of the goalkeeper and the defensive back four were all technically-skilled, athletic, and dynamic.

 

Without Zusi starting as something between a right wing and a right midfielder, the American attack along the right side of the field was less focused on crossing and more focused on quick passing soccer.

 

While Zusi certainly has the ability to play one-to-two touch soccer, without Zusi, Eddie Johnson was started as a right winger in name alone where he was able to stretch the Panamanian defense with his speed and runs, which were rewarded by passes by Geoff Cameron and others.

 

Klinsmann’s Front Six worked really well together due to the skill and playing style of the players, but the formation itself was somewhat unbalanced and hard to categorized. The front six was essentially two defensive midfielders, two attacking midfielders, and two strikers, but one of the strikers, Eddie Johnson, was supposedly playing as a right winger.

 

In reality, Eddie Johnson out right was playing more as a combination of an outside forward and a center forward, as he constantly switched back and forth between the two roles.

 

Neverthless, it was quite telling that a combination of players who Klinsmann didn’t envision as his ideal Starting XI actually produced the type of proactive soccer that he discussed when he was first appointed coach in August of 2011.

 

For USMNT fans, the game against Panama offered a glimpse of what higher-caliber soccer looks like as Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey played off each other with first-time passes, balls rolled back with the bottom of their cleats, back heels, wall passes, and the like, while Michael Bradley and Geoff Cameron roamed all over the field facilitating passing, breaking up passes, and tackling. Out left, Fabian Johnson combined with everyone, in addition to cutting inside toward the penalty box to look to shoot or break down the Panamanian defense.

 

Brad Evans didn’t perform as well as he had against Germany primarily because he was beaten with speed, which was outside of his control. Evans didn’t defend poorly or put in a poor performance, but he was simply unable to keep up with Panama’s attackers. This lack of speed wasn’t a real problem for the USMNT because Evans was covered by the U.S.’ two defensive midfielders, Bradley and Cameron, as well as the right center back, Omar Gonzalez.

 

One observation that might have gone unnoticed with the United States’ improved ball movement, Cameron and Bradley’s commanding central midfield and defensive midfield performances, and Altidore’s and Eddie Johnson’s goals was Matt Besler’s noticeably increased use of his weaker right foot. With Besler’s speed and strong defensive instincts, the use of both feet takes his game to a new level.

 

Against an athletic and skilled Panamanian national team, the United States made its first big step to playing a higher caliber of soccer based on technical skill and excellent team passing.

With Mario Balotelli, Italy Can Win The Confederations Cup

 

Italy has a superior weapon who can defeat any opponent in the Confederations Cup with just a single play: Mario Balotelli.

 

In addition to a very balanced and talented collective including the lethal striker tandem of Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy, just Balotelli himself is a freak of nature whose superior athleticism is matched by his technical ability, aggressiveness, bravado, and coolness in front of goal.

 

While Italy’s overall skill level and teamwork make them a Confederations Cup favorite, even against Spain and Brazil, the wild card Italy has is Mario Balotelli.

 

Quite simply, Balotelli is impossible to defend when he is focused and fired up for a game. The problem with defending a focused Balotelli is that he’s stronger, faster, better, taller, and craftier than anyone who will face him, even Thiago Silva.

 

If an opponent tries to muscle Balotelli off the ball, Balotelli is stronger. If an opponent tries to mark Balotelli too closely, he will simply beat them with tricks or speed or both. If an opponent gives Balotelli too much space, he’s literally capable of scoring from 45 yards out or deeper, depending on where the goalkeeper is, or he will simply sprint at the defender and easily round him.

 

Balotelli needs to focus on keeping his focus, so that incorrect calls, fouls by the opposition, a mistake, or a poorly played pass to him have no real lasting significance because the games present 90 minutes where Balotelli can continue to attack, break down defenses, set up his teammates, and draw several defenders away from his teammates over and over again throughout the game.

 

Super Mario needs to forget about a single moment of frustration because his gifts and skills allow him to continue to create chances for himself and impact the game for the entire 90 minutes, as opposed to letting one let down distract his focus from continuing to play with purpose, magic, and fire.

 

If StraordiMario Balotelli can quickly forget about instances of frustration, then Italy’s combination of skilled players at every position who play as a team can have a first-striker up top who allows them to beat any opponent at any time with just a single moment of brilliance, power, athleticism, or all three.

 

Italy comes into the Confederations Cup with Gigi Buffon in goal, Ignazio Abate at right back, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci at center back, Giorgio Chiellini at left back, Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi, Claudio Marchisio, and Riccardo Montolivo in the midfield, Stephan El Shaarawy at second striker, and Mario Balotelli at first-striker.

 

The Starting XI for gli Azzurri come from Juventus, AC Milan, and Roma, and the substitutes are very dangerous players as well. In particular, Sebastian Giovinco and Mattia De Sciglio are dangerous substitutes.

 

While there were some omissions like Angelo Ogbonna and perhaps Antonio Nocerino, la Nazionale is nevertheless a stacked team that plays well together. Additonally, it’s worth noting that Marco Verratti is participating in the Under-21 European Championship, but Italy still has a very talented and proven group of players.

 

Italy’s Starting XI are talented, experienced, and used to playing together, and this fact alone makes them one of The Confederations Cup favorites.

 

On top of Italy’s strong collection of players at every position, Balotelli gives them a player with a physique and athleticism never seen before in world soccer whose talent and ability to deliver in big games match his athleticism.

Follow me on Twitter: @COLINREESE or @FutebolSource

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© Colin Reese

 

 

 

Who Should the USMNT Start Against Panama?

Geoff Cameron. (Photo: ISIphotos.com)
Geoff Cameron. (Photo: ISIphotos.com)

 

Jürgen Klinsmann is likely to start the same line-up that he used against Jamaica except for Graham Zusi (suspended) and Jermaine Jones (concussion), but Klinsmann will likely play Eddie Johnson out of position as a left or right winger, instead of using him as a out-and-out striker with Jozy Altidore.

Klinsmann would be wise to use Joe Corona and Clint Dempsey as attacking midfielders behind Jozy Altidore and Eddie Johnson, if Klinsmann wants to use Eddie Johnson.

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The USMNT needs Joe Corona’s creativity against Panama

Joe Corona is one of several attacking midfielders who can help the United States. © Frederick Breedon / Getty Images
Joe Corona is one of several attacking midfielders who can help the United States. © Frederick Breedon / Getty Images

 

With Panama’s place in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying table, Panama’s technical ability needs to be met with Joe Corona’s similar brand of technical ability, as opposed to trying to absorb Panama’s skill.

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Neymar, The Unfazed Magician, Comes to Barcelona

Neymar. (Photo: Reuters)
Neymar. (Photo: Reuters)

 

With all of the criticism and media attention, Neymar has always remained calm and unfazed by the criticism and praise. He doesn’t make conceded statements about his abilities nor does he insult his opponents or fellow professionals.

 

When Neymar makes a mistake or loses an important game, he gets right back up with the same positive attitude from before the mistake or game, and he shows up to the next game with no fear of failure, but rather with the desire to play with joy.

 

The magic and flair that Neymar brings to the game isn’t just for show, but rather the trickery is very effective at losing defenders, scoring goals, and getting free to play passes to his teammates when they are in good positions.

 

Neymar’s tricks are not only exceptional because of the speed and ease at which he executes tricks that most professionals cannot successful perform against elite opponents, but Neymar combines two to three of these tricks in a single sequence.

For the purpose of perspective, it’s worth noting that Clint Dempsey, an excellent soccer player even by international standards and the best American soccer player ever, has 35 goals in 96 games for the United States. Neymar has 20 international goals in 33 games for Brazil before tomorrow’s friendly against France. Neymar also has 138 goals in 220 games for Santos.

People like throwing the proverbial rocks at Neymar, but luckily for Neymar, critics like to throw more rocks at Mario Balotelli, who despite his reputation for being a hot head must have an enormous tolerance for criticism and media slander.

Neymar attracts a lot of criticism for jumping out of the way of hackers to avoid injury, but what do these critics want, for Neymar just to allow himself to be injured?

Another piece of criticism that Neymar receives is that he’s unproven in Europe even though the best players in Brazil have almost always succeeded in Brazil.

Pato, Diego, and Robinho received a lot of criticism for their play in Europe, but no one who has followed those players closely or watched them play would call any of those three players flops or failures. Nevertheless, many soccer fans still label them as flops.

Neymar is better than both Lucas and Oscar who made their debuts in European football this season with enormous success, so why then is there this insistence by so many people particularly in the United Kingdom that Neymar isn’t proven?

Since when is being the best player in Brazil not an indicator of future success in Europe?

Neymar’s critics seem to mostly be English Premier League fans or people who feel that Spain’s success in recent years signals a return to European superiority in world soccer.

Even Champions League fans like claiming that Neymar plays against inferior competition in Brazil, never mind the fact that most of the best Champion League teams are stacked with South American players.

Whatever the motivation is for Neymar’s critics, these same critics will be in for a rude awakening when they see Neymar playing for Barcelona, as Neymar brings both a willingness to pass and the gift of making game-changing passes, not to mention tireless running off the ball and a technical skill-set and 1v1 abilities that are second to none.

Neymar’s critics should get ready to see Neymar shine because only Ronaldinho displayed the same audacity and ease to execute outrageously difficult tricks, shots, and passes.

 

Who should the USMNT start against Jamaica?

Geoff Cameron should start at center back.(Photo: BILL BARRETT/ISIPHOTOS.COM)
Geoff Cameron should start at center back.(Photo: BILL BARRETT/ISIPHOTOS.COM)

 

The United States Men’s National Team’s coach, Jürgen Klinsmann, has talked about World Cup qualifiers not being the time to experiment with players and line-ups, but Klinsmann has in fact experimented quite a bit with his starting line-ups, particularly with his defenses.

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Observations from the USMNT’s 4-3 Win Over Germany

Clint Dempsey scored a left-footed golazo after executing a Cruyff turn. (Photograph: Thomas Eisenhuth /dpa / Corbis)
Clint Dempsey scored a left-footed golazo after executing a Cruyff turn.
(Photograph: Thomas Eisenhuth/dpa/Corbis)

 

The United States Men’s National Team’s 4-3 defeat of Germany showed some improvements by the United States and certain players like Jozy Altidore, but there was a sense that Germany’s B Team wasn’t taking the game too seriously until the scoreline became ugly.

Amongst the good and the bad from the USMNT, Clint Dempsey scored one excellent goal and one electrifying goal as he tied Eric Wynalda at second on the USMNT’s all-time scoring list and then surpassed him.

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Who should the USMNT start against Germany?

 

Joe Corona. (Photo: MexSport)
Joe Corona. (Photo: MexSport)

 

 

The upcoming United States Men’s National Team game offers Jürgen Klinsmann the chance to see how Joe Corona and Stuart Holden can bolster a midfield with Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones, and Clint Dempsey.

 

More so than any other players on this roster, Corona and Holden offer the USMNT the opportunity to improve the technical ability of the American midfield and test the USMNT against one of the top national teams in the world, Germany.

 

Belgium and Germany are several levels above the United States in terms of technical ability, but Klinsmann should seize this chance to start players like Corona and Holden who can not only help out Bradley, Jones, and Dempsey but who can also provide certain types of passes and final balls that the other three don’t provide enough of.

 

Jürgen Klinsmann would be wise to start something like the line-up below, which is a 4-2-3-1 formation:

 

Tim HOWARD; Fabian JOHNSON, Omar GONZALEZ, Geoff CAMERON, DaMarcus BEASLEY; Jermaine JONES, Michael BRADLEY; Joe CORONA, Stuart HOLDEN, Clint DEMPSEY; Terrence BOYD.

 

DaMarcus Beasley is the only player proposed above as a starting defender who is playing out of position, but Beasley has played a few games at left back.

 

Beasley’s speed was presumably the reason that Klinsmann elected to use him at left back at times when the United States had some injuries, but he has shown the ability to play some respectable defense against a team like Belgium as well as Mexico and Costa Rica.

 

With the players available on the roster, Fabian Johnson is needed at right back so that Gonzalez and Cameron can continue to build chemistry as the American center back duo.

 

In the midfield, Klinsmann has somewhat transitioned away from using three defensive midfielders, as he now uses two technically-skilled defensive midfielders in Jones and Bradley whose skill on the ball and athleticism allows them to do more than playing the roles of midfield destroyers.

 

The change needed for the game against Germany, which should help the United States in World Cup qualifying, would be the insertion of Holden and Corona into the starting line-up to provide Dempsey with more support from creative and skilled midfielders in maintaining possession and connecting the midfield to the attack.

 

Up top, Jozy Altidore deserves a chance to start at striker when he actually has enough players behind him who can provide better service beyond just crosses played into the box, but at the same time, a friendly is a good chance to let Terrence Boyd start and show what he can do.

 

Perhaps the best course of action is playing each striker for one half or playing both of them at the same time at some point in the game, which would require taking off one of the two defensive midfielders or one of the three attacking midfielders.

 

The primary change needed in this game in order to see how the United States can improve for upcoming qualifiers is to take both Brad Davis and Graham Zusi out of the starting line-up and insert Joe Corona and Stuart Holden.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @COLINREESE or @FutebolSource

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© Colin Reese

 

 

 

Belgium’s Goleada of the USMNT Highlights Problems

 

 

Romelu Lukaku was too much for the United States to handle. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Romelu Lukaku (left) was too much for the United States to handle. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

 

The technical ability and speed of Belgium in its 4-2 defeat of the United States Men’s National Team in an international friendly highlighted many of the problems with Jürgen Klinsmann’s rosters and line-ups more so than games against CONCACAF opponents have.

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