Geoff Cameron: If we can perform very well Friday night and show that we can play with our confidence, and play our game plan, we should be OK.” (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
SAN JOSE, Calif. — It was bad enough that Geoff Cameron couldn’t play with the U.S. national team in its first two matches of the CONCACAF hexagonal because of a knee injury last November.
It got worse because the Americans lost both World Cup qualifiers.
It got even worse when the Stoke City defender watched Costa Rica dismantle and humiliate the USA in another San Jose in Costa Rica, 4-0.
“It was difficult,” Cameron told said earlier this week, before the Americans took on Honduras in a qualifier at Avaya Stadium Friday night. “I was going through an injury back in England and things weren’t getting better.”
While watching the game, Cameron said he felt “helpless knowing I could have been a player who affect the game. We lacked the energy, we lacked the aggressiveness that I bring and the quality that I can provide. It’s difficult for any player sitting on the sideline with an injury. But I’m glad to be back here and back playing.”
Cameron wasn’t boasting. He arguably has been the U.S.’s most consistent defender — he usually starts at center back — during qualifying.
He and his teammates face a must-win situation against fourth-place Honduras (1-1-0, 3 points). The last-place U.S. started off the final round of qualifying for Russia 2018 with a 0-2-0 mark, which included a 2-1 home loss to Mexico.
The 31-year-old Cameron was optimistic his he and his teammates will walk out of the stadium with three points. He cited another must-win situation during qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, when the U.S. needed to beat Guatemala in the last game of the semifinal round to reach the hex. The Americans did, 3-1, in Kansas City, Kansas.
“It was perfect. Right before getting into the hex, we had to win,” he said. “We had to beat Guatemala and we did it. So, you have ups and downs throughout qualifying and it’s a given. You have good moments, you have bad moments.
“We kind of dug ourselves a little bit of a hole, but we should be fine. If we can perform very well Friday night and show that we can play with our confidence, and play our game plan, we should be OK.”
The Hondurans won’t exactly roll over and die. While they haven’t beat the U.S. in the states since that shocking 3-2 qualifying result in Washington, D.C. Sept. 1, 2001, Los Catrachos have always played the Americans tight and tough.
“They’re a tough team. They’re a resilient team,” Cameron said. “They have a good block on defense and have a couple of guys up top with some speed and some skill, so we just got to make sure we control the game and dictate the pace of the game, try to eliminate as many chances as possible.”
Cameron welcomed the change of head coaches. Bruce Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann after he was sacked due to those first two hex results.
“It’s a different system, a different energy, a different feeling,” he said. “The players haven’t changed much, so a lot of same veteran faces, a lot of same guys. You see some coaches come in and change the whole feeling of the team. Maybe that’s what we needed. They had a good January game. This is a big game for us and we have to take care of business.”