Geoff Cameron slams U.S. Soccer, Bruce Arena
The Stoke City defender didn't mince words when assessing the current state of U.S. soccer in the Players' Tribune on Friday, saving some criticism for axed men's team manager Bruce Arena.
"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.
Cameron alleges "certain folks in the U.S. Soccer establishment act like you're trashing their system" by advising young players to ply their trades in Europe rather than at home.
"Our best young players need to be playing in the top European leagues. Period," Cameron, who is in his sixth campaign with the Potters, added. "It shouldn't be looked at as a negative thing. It should be a huge source of pride to send a 20-year-old American kid to play in the Bundesliga or the Premier League. Even better if they came up in MLS for a few years.
"Why is it seen as a negative for America to 'lose' a player who goes to play abroad? Brazilians don't think this way when Neymar goes to Barcelona. The Dutch don't think this way when their Ajax academy kids go to Chelsea or Bayern. Why don't we go the other way entirely?"
Few would understand this dynamic better than Cameron. The Massachusetts-born 32-year-old went to college in the U.S. and played four seasons with the Houston Dynamo before moving to Stoke in 2012. With the Premier League outfit, he emerged as a versatile figure on the international stage with 55 caps playing as a centre-half or deep-lying midfielder.
"With U.S. Soccer's presidential election coming up this weekend, and the coaching vacancy yet to be filled, this issue needs to be addressed right now. It's time to learn from our mistakes - as players, coaches, and as an organization. It's time to look forward and get to the heart of the matter."
Amid an assessment of the national team setup, Cameron was also critical of former manager Arena, saying: "After Jurgen Klinsmann was fired, and Bruce Arena took over, we got too comfortable. We lost our ambition and sense of progress. But more than anything, we lost any sense of competitiveness.
"The real difference was that Jurgen challenged guys to push themselves to the absolute limits. He encouraged them to go play abroad in the top leagues, even if they didn't speak the language or were going to have to scratch and claw to get minutes."
Cameron was also scathing of Arena's tactics in the defeat to Trinidad and Tobago, adding: "4-1-3-2. One defensive midfielder, on a terrible pitch, against a team that wants to capitalize on bad bounces and mistakes. When we only needed one point. ... You throw your own players under the bus? When we played a 4-1-3-2? When we only needed one point? One freaking point. To go to the World Cup."
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