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Failed experiments, or Take the CAM away from Cameron

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BRIDGEVIEW, IL - APRIL 23: Geoff Cameron #20 of the Houston Dynamo brings the ball up the field against the  Chicago Fire in an MLS match on April 23, 2011 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
BRIDGEVIEW, IL - APRIL 23: Geoff Cameron #20 of the Houston Dynamo brings the ball up the field against the Chicago Fire in an MLS match on April 23, 2011 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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With the middle of the season nearly upon us, it is perhaps time to mention formations and personnel, one personnel and position in particular.

Playtherapy has finally convinced me it's finally time to call an end to the Geoff Cameron "experiment" at central attacking midfield.  And I say this not only because there have been several stories mentioning his potential move to center back while Andre Hainault and Jermaine Taylor are away at the Gold Cup. Good for that move, I think and it will finally be refreshing to see the Giraffe in a position to which he is actually suited to play.

I come here not to damn Geoff Cameron, definitely not. I come here to damn this experiment that has now run for far too long.  Cameron is clearly out of his element trying to direct the attack, leaving all of the real direction in midfield coming from Brad Davis on the left.  As we saw against Dallas, as well as Colorado and many other times this season, Geoff's attacking runs often end after one or two touches and a pass either back or to a member of the other team.  He is slow to make decisions that need to come quite quickly to a CAM, and that slowness results in a gumminess in attack that is all too present.  Promising build-ups often amount to nothing because with Cameron as CAM, there is no presence along Route 1.  Thus defenders can sit on Cameron and have plenty of time to react to whatever he's going to do.  Dynamo have always been a wing-play sort of team, and still are. But when you have Dwayne De Rosario or Stuart Holden in the middle, defenders have to adjust to that, which gives the wings more fluidity and, even better, options.  With Geoff Cameron in the middle, that is simply not there. His presence can often disrupt an attack being generated from the other team's defenders, but that is really a tertiary requirement of the central attacking midfielder, now isn't it?

Now once again, as BHO says, let me be clear.  Cameron is a sure-fire starter on this squad and I think he is a terrific player.  The idea for putting him in at CAM was always an interesting one, but I honestly believe that Dom Kinnear has hung onto it for far too long.  Cameron's continued so-so, middling success ranging down to failure as CAM at this point is Kinnear's burden to bear.  I think there are three positions on the field that Geoff is ideally suited to play, and I'll leave it for others to rank them.  He has proven himself to the tune of an MLS First XI honor and USMNT call-up as a center back. It takes no convincing to say that he was indeed excellent as a full-time starter there in 2009.  He was more than that. He was an elite player in our league and easily a rising star.

But that does not mean that that is where I think he should play in 2011. The pairing of Bobby Boswell and Andre Hainault has been little short of amazing. Hainault looks for all the world like a player who is back playing his natural position on the field. He's quick, tough and plays like a mauler out there (Quick, name another Canadian with those qualities. Yeah, I couldn't either.).

Also, speaking of revelations, Jermaine Taylor looked absolutely fabulous against Frisco. Quick, mobile, tough. He gives us three real quality center backs on this team when compared with Boswell and Hainault.  Four if you count Cameron.  But that's the thing. You should not count Cameron in with that group as he would be best somewhere else.

When Geoff first came up, he came up as a right midfielder. The only thing is that in his rookie season we had a quite nice right-sided midfield named Brian Mullan over there and Cameron was not going to unseat Mully. So he got known as a kind of a jack-of-all-trades before finding his home at center back following Eddie Robinson's virtually career-ending injury in 2008.  He could easily play on the right again.  But of course, that would mean more than a few problems as that position is occupied by the triumvirate of Colin Clark, JeVaughn Watson and Danny Cruz.

Now, if a certain Iberian who is not to be named had not departed precipitously earlier this week, then the question of who should be in the CAM role would be a far easier solution.  But with a flight to Malaga and then Thessaonika now booked, that would mean, to me at least, that JeVaughn Watson should be the CAM and not on the right.  So the right-sided winger situation would be a competition with a capital C between Cameron, Clark and Cruz. 

I would give that over to Clark and Cruz, who I think are better suited at this point to be on the right depending on the needs to battle the opponents we face.  However, Cameron should be in that Conversation.

So where does Cameron go if not on the right?  Well, as much as I love Lovel Palmer, I think Dynamo would be best served with Cameron as a holding midfielder. He has the perfect skill set for it and would have the time on the ball needed to make decisions on distribution, defense and disrupting the opposing attack. Quite simply, Cameron would shut down Route 1 the way he did as a centerback, only with his athleticism and smarts, he'd be doing it 20 meters further up the field.  I think he would bring far more to the role as a starter than Palmer, who would remain a vital cog in the team's overall picture.  So here's the XI (with multiple looks at each position) I'm envisioning:

Ching/Weaver -Bruin/Weaver

Davis/Ashe-Watson-Cameron/Palmer-Cruz/Clark/Cameron

Taylor/Ashe/Chabala-Hainault/Taylor-Boswell/Taylor-Freeman/Sarkodie/Hainault

Hall/Deric

As always, opposing and alternative opinions are desired and encouraged.