On the field, Matt Miazga and Cameron Carter-Vickers are a working tandem. In this CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship, the pair of center backs know that when they’re on the field they’ll need to combine together to stop the opposition. The two are youngest players on the team, but are ready to step up as the U-23’s, looking to punch their ticket to the 2016 Olympics in Rio, need them most.
If the pair share the field in the Qualifying tournament, it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve done so in the red, white and blue.
“Cam and I have known each other for a while now,” Miazga said. “We worked together in the U-20 cycle for quite a while and played together in the U-20 World Cup and it was good. Now we’re up to the U-23 team and it’s another good step for us and we’re looking forward to it.”
Earlier this year the pair proved to be a dynamic defensive duo, leading a stifling U-20 UMNT defense that advanced to the U-20 World Cup quarterfinals.
Carter-Vickers (center) and Miazga (left) helped the USA pitch three shutouts in five games at the 2015 U-20 World Cup.
Now they know they have another big challenge that comes in the form of Olympic Qualifying. For them it’s another opportunity to play together on the field. The two know that in their position at center back, chemistry is important. It is something they’re constantly trying to build, on and off the field.
“We get on really well,” Carter-Vickers said. “Off the field, we’re roommates and even when we’re not playing, we’re talking about soccer. That helps us understand each other’s game and makes us even better when we do step back on the field.”
“We’re really just comfortable with each other off the field so, on the field, it makes us that much better,” Miazga added. “It’s very helpful when we have to cover each other and give instructions and work together to organize the team.”
The two center backs continue to grow accustomed to lining up next to each other and got the opportunity to do so again in the team’s final Olympic Qualifying preparation camp this past September in England.
“The more a center back pair plays together, the better they’ll get,” Carter-Vickers said. “Each game coming into your position, you see how each other handles the opposition and you can work with each other.”
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20-year-old Miazga and 17-year-old Carter-Vickers will be two of the youngest players in the tournament, but their youth, they say, won’t stop them from being leaders on the pitch.
“I think in general we’re both confident players, so we’re confident on the field and that helps us communicate with guys and organize and lead,” Miazga said. “Obviously we were leaders with the U-20’s and we’re going to try to lead and organize here as well because our position demands that. We’ll do our best and hopefully do well.”
“You also don’t just lead vocally,” Carter-Vickers, who captains Tottenham’s U-21 team said. “You can lead in the way that you play and in how much you give for your team.”
“We’re ready to give it all for our team,” Miazga concluded.