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Baptism by fire a success for steady, ready CB Cameron

GUATEMALA CITY — At least one problem is closer to being solved for the U.S. men's national team.

With the center back situation practically in full crisis mode following a series of disappointing showings from Clarence Goodson and Oguchi Onyewu, one of the brighter spots in the team’s somewhat disappointing 1-1 draw in Guatemala on Tuesday was the play of Geoff Cameron, who came on at halftime to make his World Cup qualifying debut.

The Houston Dynamo center back was inserted 45 minutes in by head coach Jurgen Klinsmann in place of Goodson, who picked up a yellow card and looked a step off the pace in the first half. Alongside Carlos Bocanegra, Cameron helped lock down the backline, playing well for much of his second-half shift.

“It’s one of those tough games to get into, especially in the hostile environment,” Cameron said after the game. “But that’s what you want to do. You want to get into these games. I felt pretty good, battling head balls, playing it simple, and that’s all I could do.”

Cameron’s solid performance, along with that of the entire defense, was marred in the 83rd minute when the hosts won a free kick deep in the American third. Marco Pappa converted the ensuing set piece to grab a share of the points.

Nevertheless, the experience was a baptism of fire for the 26-year-old Cameron, who can add a national team qualifier to his international experiences at the club level. He had already visited Guatemala for a CONCACAF Champions League match with the Houston Dynamo a few years ago.

“I played here, against Municipal, at this stadium,” Cameron recalled. “It’s loud, the fans get involved and it can be rowdy. So the communication is important on the field, making sure you’re organizing your lines and being louder than the crowd, and it’s difficult.”

Cameron was clearly disappointed to not get away with all three points this time, but he was more concerned with the big picture, taking the positives away from a useful point on the road.

“I thought we did well handling it,” he said. “We defended pretty good, cleared our line up. It’s just one of those unfortunate things, seven minutes left in the game and they get a free kick and they score. Disappointing, but we look forward to getting back and winning these games at home.”