HOUSTON – Who will be the US national team's next Geoff Cameron?
As an MLS player, the former Houston Dynamo defender made a name for himself at US January camp and won a permanent spot on Jurgen Klinsmann's squad.
Tuesday’s friendly against Canada (8 pm CT on ESPN2/Univision Deportes; Sportsnet in Canada) presents the current batch of players, hailing mainly from MLS, with that same opportunity to enter the regular national team rotation. It's the proverbial carrot at the end of the stick as the US gets set to play Honduras in the Hexagonal phase of World Cup qualifying on February 6.
“I think it definitely helps if there’s something at stake,” Klinsmann told reporters before a Sunday evening training session. “At the end of the day, it’s important that the players understand that the January camp is not just a camp anymore to just bridge the offseason or make it shorter.
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“We want to see that they’re going to show that Tuesday night. Are they excited about finishing this camp off in a very positive way?”
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The players have understood Klinsmann's message loud and clear from the start.
“From the beginning, it wasn’t just preparing for a friendly,” goalkeeper Tally Hall said. “Jurgen came in and said there’s six to eight guys from this group that will move into a World Cup qualifier against Honduras so that has made the Canada game a vehicle to get ready for that. This is a camp that we’re getting ready for something and if you do it right you can be a part of that.”
When asked Sunday, Klinsmann stuck by his previous statement that up to eight players could be included in the roster that will face Honduras. That squad will convene in Miami at the start of next week.
“It’s a pressure that each and every one of us work very hard to put on our shoulders,” Hall said. “That’s the pressure that we want to have applied to us because that’s what gets us to the next level. That’s what can separate the different levels of competition and that’s a good pressure that we’re looking forward too.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.