CLEVELAND – Belgium boasted too much firepower for the United States during Wednesday’s meeting at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, but American defender Geoff Cameron gained some consolation on his personal night of firsts.
Cameron netted his first national team goal during his country’s 4-2 defeat, becoming the first player from West Virginia University to score for Team USA. He also became the first Stoke City player to score on the plot of land nestled between Lake Erie and downtown Cleveland since Harry Burrows found the net for the Cleveland Stokers on July 1, 1967.
Stoke had accepted an invitation from the United Soccer Association that summer to participate in its inaugural 12-team league featuring European and South American clubs representing cities across the U.S. and Canada. The Potters’ final “home” game at the former Municipal Stadium saw Tony Waddington’s side triumph 2-0 over Toronto City, or Hibernian from Scotland, through second-half goals by forwards Peter Dobing and Burrows.
“I didn’t know that,” Cameron told The Soccer Observer. “I thought Stoke came to the U.S. for the first time last year. That’s pretty cool then.”
Former Houston Dynamo defender Cameron first met his Stoke teammates ahead of last summer’s pre-season game at Orlando City. He made 29 starts during his debut season in England’s Premier League with six further appearances from the substitutes’ bench. The 27-year-old from Massachusetts had returned to the U.S. after Stoke’s season-ending 1-1 tie at Southampton when news of Tony Pulis’ departure reached him.
“He was a good coach to me,” Cameron said. “He brought me to the club and I was one of the starters for most of the season.
“I can’t thank him enough and obviously I’m sad at what happened.”
Cameron’s versatility saw him mainly operating at right-back as Stoke labored to 13th in the table after a dramatic slump following the Christmas period. Mark Hughes’ arrival as Pulis’ replacement gives the American another chance to impress in his preferred role.
“I’m pushing for center-back,” Cameron said. “I think that’s my strongest position.
“I never know what’s going on. Mark Hughes might have seen me last year with the national team or seen me playing defensive center-mid in a few games for Stoke. Hopefully he knows who I am and he’s seen what I can do.”
“Summer Of ’67: Flower Power, Race Riots, Vietnam and the Greatest Soccer Final Played on American Soil” charts the story of the 1967 United Soccer Association tournament, including recollections from Stoke City legend Terry Conroy. The book is set for release through Amazon.com in July 2013.
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May 21, 2013 — When Houston Hosted The World’s First Indoor Soccer Game
Aug. 16, 2012 — Cameron Shows Center-Back Credentials In Azteca Cauldron
July 25, 2012 — Versatility Can Make Cameron A “Great Asset” To Stoke