HOUSTON – Geoff Cameron is on his way back to Houston, at least for a few days.
The Houston Dynamo announced on Tuesday that they will take on English Premier League's Stoke City FC – boasting MLS alumni Cameron and Brek Shea – on July 24 as part of the BBVA Compass Dynamo Charities Cup, the second Premier League side to take part in the annual charitable event.
And while booking the 2011 FA Cup finalists and oldest club in the EPL was not a condition of the sale of the former Dynamo star, it played a major driving force in the decision.
"When we transferred Geoff to Stoke City last year, we had a handshake agreement to make the match happen,” president Chris Canetti told reporters on Tuesday. “When we made this move for Geoff, we shook hands and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you guys came to Houston next year?’
“As we evaluate what made sense, we knew there was a big fan base for Geoff and having Stoke, a reputable Premier League side, was a factor but bringing in a player like him was a factor as well,” Canetti continued. “That becomes the differentiating factor.”
Now a US national team regular, Cameron blossomed in a Dynamo uniform. The University of Rhode Island alum rose from third-round pick (42nd overall) in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft to a starter for Jurgen Klinsmann.
“He had a great four-and-a-half years here,” said Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear. “It’s wonderful that the teammates here, the team and city have helped him get over to England. For this to happen and him to get to come back and play in this match is great. It’s a great idea and I’m sure he’s going to love it.”
While the allure of bringing Cameron back was too good to pass up, Canetti understands the calls for a more widely recognized opponent such as Manchester United, who visited Houston for the 2010 All-Star Games.
Economics and logistics make those caliber of opponents a tough proposition to turn into reality. However, the club president said the organization has an eye toward bringing on that level of opponent in the near future.
“We understand there are other teams out there fans would like to see and we share that desire,” Canetti said. “We’re always going to have the desire to do stuff. This is a business and we have to make smart business decisions to make sense.”
For now, Canetti, Kinnear and the Dynamo are more than happy to welcome Stoke and a prodigal son that still has a lot of ties to the club he left.
“I know he’s going to be looking forward to it and the fans will be looking forward to it,” Brad Davis said of his former teammate. “He seems to have found a fit and he’s playing every week, even if it’s not always in the same position. It’s gone really well for him and he’s happy in the situation.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.