While US beat Panama on Tuesday in a critical World Cup qualifier, the real story was Stoke City man Geoff Cameron. Out of necessity, USA manager Jürgen Klinsmann pushed Cameron into a holding midfield role due to the injury suffered by Jermaine Jones in Friday night’s qualifier. The returns were excellent with Cameron proving both an effective shield in front of the back four, linking up well with the US attack.
Cameron’s early days in Major League Soccer showed him to be a versatile and useful player who could slot into any position on the backline and also frequently in central midfield. This adaptability led Stoke to sign him last year as Tony Pulis has long shown a preference for pragmatic players and also allowed him to play in three distinct roles for the US in the Hexagonal qualifying round.
Granted, facing off with Panama is not quite a Premier League nor even a Championship level opponent, but it was a pressure match and Cameron turned in a virtuoso performance.
This leaves new Stoke City manager Mark Hughes with increased options in the midfield. Considering Sparky is likely to overturn large portions of the Potters squad he inherited from Pulis, Cameron could be featured in a different role.
Stoke’s board is obviously concerned about stylistic consideration and entertaining fans and media critics; otherwise the decision to sack Pulis never would have been contemplated. The madness of the sacking notwithstanding, Hughes must now take the mantle given him and fulfill a mandate which could be mission impossible.
The versatility and comfort shown by Cameron on Tuesday night in midfield is a good starting point for Sparky in his rebuild of the Potters. On his side he’ll find many a versatile footballer who can adapt to different roles and different styles even if Stoke played one way and lacked a plan B as critics have charged the past few seasons.