ussoccer.com: Last year at this time, you were coming off your first season and a nomination for MLS Rookie of the Year, and had received a call-up to the January camp. It must have been difficult getting injured after only two days in camp and having to head home.
Geoff Cameron: “It was very disappointing. Mentally it was a big let down, you could say. I flew home for three days, then spent the entire month of January doing rehab to make sure I was ready for preseason with Houston.”
ussoccer.com: Did you approach this offseason any differently knowing you were coming into camp?
GC: “I wanted to take a very professional approach. I did a lot of offseason work to get stronger. I traveled to Houston for a week in December to do fitness. I wanted to get outside and start running. It’s not the greatest weather for running outdoors in New England at the moment.”
ussoccer.com: You’ve had a solid start to your career in MLS. After the great first season, in year two you earned a nomination for the Visa MLS Defender of the Year. Has your performance exceeded your expectations?
GC: “From the beginning, I had goals. My first goal was to make the Dynamo roster. When you are drafted, that doesn’t guarantee you a spot. You have to prove yourself. My first game was in Hawaii. The coaches gave me plenty of opportunities to prove myself, and I tried to take advantage. I saw time in a lot of the club competitions like the CONCACAF Champions League, Superliga, and Open Cup. I got most of my experience that first year in those international games, and it provided me with confidence and gave the coaches confidence in my play.”
“Playing in those competitions, you get exposed to different styles. The South American style is very different; the games are more technical. I didn’t have any expectations going in. The first year flew by so quick. I set my goal of getting a call-up to a national team camp within four years, and it happened in the first year. My father reminded that while it was disappointing that I didn’t get through the first camp, I should think about all the accomplishments and that I was ahead of the game. I’m 0-2 in winning awards (laughs), but I wouldn’t trade it for what the team has been able to do on the field.”
ussoccer.com: Was there a moment or a game where it kicked in that you were now truly a professional soccer player?
GC: “I would say my first start, which came in our home opener against Dallas. Brian Mullan had an injury issue, so Dominic [Kinnear] started me. It was my first experience dealing with the hot and humid weather. I remember feeling fatigued pretty quickly, but the adrenaline kicked in. I scored the tying goal to make it 3-3 in extra. That was the first time I fully realized that what it meant to be on a professional soccer team.”
ussoccer.com: In Houston there are a lot of players with national team experience. Has that helped you prepare for coming into the team?
GC: “In Houston I have the chance to train every day with guys like Brad Davis, Brian Ching, and Richard Mulrooney and others who are all national team caliber. They have a ton of experience and have played at the international level, which is big benefit for me. To give our coaches credit, they bring younger guys into their program and give them chances. They implement that feeling of unity. Everyone is looking out for one another.”
ussoccer.com: Are there any other professional athletes from Attleboro, Massachusetts?
“Not that I know of. I’m trying to become more involved with Attleboro youth soccer back home. My mom used to run tournaments when I grew up, and when I go back home and jump in with some of the youth teams, I see the potential that some of these kids have. When I was little, it was all about football in my town. Now soccer is the cool thing to do, and I hear that teams are going to the state cup and other tournaments and being competitive. I want to do whatever I can to help grow the sport in the area.”
ussoccer.com: Are there players around the world whose qualities you look at and would like to incorporate into your game?
GC: “As a centerback, I look at Ricardo Carvalho at Chelsea. I watch how he makes the offensive runs 20-30 yards up the field, his determination to win the ball every time, and how he doesn’t like to get beat. In the midfield I like Steven Gerrard at Liverpool. He’s so unpredictable, and he can take over a game in a matter of minutes.”
ussoccer.com: You have been used in both defense and in the midfield in Houston. How do you view those positions and the different responsibilities required in each?
GC: “Certainly there are different parts to the positions. As a centerback, it’s a different type of running. You’re also the last line of defense, so you can’t take chances. In the midfield you can be more creative in attack because that’s your job. As a defender, you have to be aware of your surroundings at all times. I think my body type and style works in either position.”
ussoccer.com: This is your first extended experience playing with guys that you go up against every week in MLS. Is it strange to now be on the same side?
GC: “They are all good guys. It’s funny when you look back, remembering certain plays against certain guys, and now we’re on the same team. You see them in a different light. I know them as a person now. When we play against each other in the season coming up, I’m sure we’ll go just as hard, and then we’ll walk off the field being friends. You’ll be able to say a few words on the field in a joking manner, knowing at the same time that you want to win too. There may be a little more trash talking, but it comes from a good place.”
ussoccer.com: Everyone here is trying to make an impression, particularly in a World Cup year. How are you viewing this camp?
GC: “It’s a good opportunity. There are a lot guys here in the same situation and it takes you out of your comfort zone a little bit. You don’t know the coaches really well. Your confidence isn’t where it is during the season, you are coming off a break and have not done a lot of technical training every day, and everyone here is fighting for a spot for one game. The most difficult part is trying to find your top form. I’m trying not to get ahead of myself, and just take it one day at a time without thinking ahead.”