Geoff Cameron slams U.S. Soccer for 'poisonous divide' between players

Geoff Cameron has blamed U.S. Soccer for creating a "poisonous divide" between MLS and European-based players, while also expanding on his criticism of former U.S. coach Bruce Arena.

Cameron recently said that Jurgen Klinsmann would have qualified the U.S. to the World Cup had he not been replaced by Arena. And in a column for The Players' Tribune on Friday, the defender wrote that Klinsmann believed any promising young American playing in MLS rather than Europe was a "wasted opportunity."

In contrast, Cameron wrote, "certain folks in the U.S. Soccer establishment act like you're trashing their system" by advocating that players leave MLS.

And ahead of the national federation's presidential election on Saturday, Cameron says the USSF's next leaders should be more open to young players moving to Europe.

"The powers that be in U.S. Soccer have created a poisonous divide between the MLS players and the so-called 'European' players, and until that culture is torn down, the USMNT will continue to slide backwards," he wrote.

"With U.S. Soccer's presidential election coming up this weekend, and the coaching vacancy yet to be filled, this issue needs to be addressed right now. It's time to learn from our mistakes -- as players, coaches and as an organization. It's time to look forward and get to the heart of the matter."

And Cameron, who's in his sixth season with Stoke City in the Premier League, urged more Americans to follow in his footsteps and continue their development abroad.

"Our best young players need to be playing in the top European leagues. Period," he wrote. "It shouldn't be looked at as a negative thing. It should be a huge source of pride to send a 20-year-old American kid to play in the Bundesliga or the Premier League. Even better if they came up in MLS for a few years.

"Why is it seen as a negative for America to 'lose' a player who goes to play abroad? Brazilians don't think this way when Neymar goes to Barcelona. The Dutch don't think this way when their Ajax academy kids go to Chelsea or Bayern. Why don't we go the other way entirely?

"U.S. Soccer should take out ads with pictures of all the players, past and present, who have made a huge impact on the world stage."

Arena last month strongly suggested that Cameron was one of "a couple of bad eggs" that led to for chemistry issues within the U.S. team. But Cameron said the coach "did not adapt to a changing soccer culture" and instituted a sense of complacency with his player selection.

"After Jurgen Klinsmann was fired, and Bruce Arena took over, we got too comfortable," Cameron wrote. "We lost our ambition and sense of progress. But more than anything, we lost any sense of competitiveness.

"I had my differences with Jurgen over the years, but the one thing you cannot deny is that Jurgen and his staff brought a sense of true professional competitiveness and ambition to the national team. Under Jurgen, your spot was never guaranteed. ...

"The real difference was that Jurgen challenged guys to push themselves to the absolute limits. He encouraged them to go play abroad in the top leagues, even if they didn't speak the language, or were going to have to scratch and claw to get minutes.

"That was the whole point, actually. He created a mindset of never letting yourself get too comfortable. He held us to a higher standard."

Cameron also expanded upon the Americans' defeat in their final World Cup qualifier in Trinidad and Tobago that cost them qualification to Russia this summer.

Arena left Cameron on the bench for that game in favor of center-backs Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler, then later faulted his team for not being able to dribble out of the back. But Cameron saw Arena's choice of formation as the real problem when a draw would have been enough to keep the U.S. in contention to qualify.

He wrote: "4-1-3-2. One defensive midfielder, on a terrible pitch, against a team that wants to capitalize on bad bounces and mistakes. When we only needed one point. ... You throw your own players under the bus? When we played a 4-1-3-2? When we only needed one point? One freaking point. To go to the World Cup."