New England Soccer Today

Road to MLS Cup: Geoff Cameron

Forget having to wait another three days for MLS Cup. If Geoff Cameron had it his way, he’d be lacing up his boots and stepping onto the Home Depot Center pitch right now.

That’s not to say he doesn’t appreciate or value the practice and preparation (and the extra rest, for that matter) leading up to this weekend’s MLS Cup final.

But, with two full weeks in between their 2-0 Eastern Conference championship triumph at Sporting Kansas City and Sunday’s showdown against the Galaxy, the Attleboro, Mass. native is understandibly growing impatient at the prospect of playing the biggest game of his career.

“I wish it came sooner,” said Cameron. “I’m not trying to get myself worked up about it, but the closer and closer we get to the game, the more anxious I get.”

And who could blame him? It’s not everyday that a professional athlete gets to play for a championship. So when the rare opportunity does present itself, yeah, it may be something worth getting worked up about.

But don’t think for a minute that the fifth-year veteran is all nerves and no concentration. Although this will be his first trip to a Cup final, the center half has an idea of what to expect when he finally hears the screech of the opening whistle on Sunday.

Surrounded by Cup-winning veterans like Richard Mulrooney, Craig Waibel, and Brian Mullan during his rookie campaign, Cameron absorbed as much as he could in the hopes that he, too, might someday lift the the championship trophy over his head.

“I just had to soak up every piece of advice they gave me,” said Cameron. “I just soaked it all up like sponge.”

The best piece of advice he received? You can’t play at your best unless you’re having fun. Forget the stakes. Just go out there and have fun.

And that’s the attitude Cameron has adpoted going into the championship tilt: have fun.

“Obviously, the nerves are going to be there,” said Cameron. “But, it’s something that you live for and dream of: playing for a championship ring. And not everyone gets to play for one.”

It wasn’t that long ago that there were doubts about whether Cameron would get to play for one this fall. Although the Dynamo ended up posting a 10-3-4 record at Robertson Stadium in 2011, it took them until September 24th to finally clinch their first road win.

The naysayers painted them as soft. A team that couldn’t win in a hostile environment. A team that couldn’t piece it together on an unfamiliar pitch. A team that wouldn’t make a dent in the playoffs – of course, that’s if they even made the playoffs.

Instead of ignoring their critics, the Dynamo did the exact opposite: they listened to them. They absorbed every harsh word. They took every jab to heart. And then they used it as fuel to rip off a five-game win streak – including an impressive 3-1 win over the same Galaxy squad they’ll face on Sunday – that put them right on the doorstep of the league title.

As expected, the pundits are once again dismissing the Dynamo. The playoff wins at K.C. and Philadelphia? They were flukes. Just skip the formalities and hand the Anschutz Trophy to the star-studded Galaxy.

“Everybody knows that L.A. has a fantastic team,” said Cameron. “They’ve got (Robbie) Keane, they’ve got Landon (Donovan), and they’ve got (David) Beckham. They’ve got the superstar names. But, at the same time, we have a hard-working team that works well with one another.”

Even though Cameron knows his teammates’ efforts aren’t as attractive as say, a David Beckham free kick or a Landon Donovan drive from distance, he accepts the situation for what it is.

“We’re the underdogs,” said Cameron. “And we don’t mind being the underdogs because we’ve been the underdogs for the entire postseason.”

It’s a role that he and his teammates actually seem to relish. The pressure’s not on them. Their only focus is putting together a solid 90 minutes of soccer and letting the chips fall where they may.

Of course, Cameron is already dreaming about raising the trophy over his head, dancing on the midfield platform, and basking in the championship glory. When asked about what that scene would be like, Cameron was emphatic.

“Are you kidding me? It would be awesome!” said Cameron. “It would be the icing on the cake.”

Even though he may be battling a healthy case of nerves right now, Cameron isn’t taking the weeks, days, minutes, and seconds leading up to MLS Cup for granted.

“You never know when you’re going to come back here,” said Cameron. “So you just have to enjoy it as much as possible.”

Leave a Reply