It appears that Major League Soccer will soon be losing another American defender to a Premier League side.
Multiple sources, including The Daily Mail and ESPN, are reporting that Stoke City have agreed on a £1.6m ($2.5m) fee for Houston defender Geoff Cameron. MLS had, according to sources, previously asked for $3m for the 27-year old defender. While Stoke and MLS have come to terms on the fee, the deal could still hit a snag or two based on a couple of factors.
Cameron has yet to sign a contract with Stoke, although that, according to all reports, shouldn't be too much of a problem moving forward. The more significant issue standing in the way of Cameron making a move to Europe is his ability, more specifically his inability, to acquire the necessary work permit. A foreign player must have featured in at least 75 percent of his national team's competitive matches in the previous two years in order to acquire a UK permit. Cameron does not meet that requirement, but he will, according to the previously mentioned reports, receive backing from former US Men's National Team coach Bob Bradley. Bradley is set to verify that Cameron would have more than met the 75 percent requirement had the player avoided injuries over the past two years.
New York Red Bulls fans are no strangers to work permit issues. Former New York defender Tim Ream faced a similar problem this past winter when he was attempting to make a move to Bolton. While that transfer took a bit longer to complete than originally thought, Ream eventually signed a two-year deal with a Bolton side that were unfortunately relegated this past May.
I'm a selfish fan of both the Red Bulls and USMNT, and thus the thought of Cameron joining Stoke brings a smile to my face. Cameron's current MLS club Houston are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, just four points behind New York in the standings. New York and Houston will face off twice more during the 2012 regular season, a home-and-home August series (Houston will host on August 3, and New York will host on August 10). Cameron not playing in either of those matches is good news for the Red Bulls.
More importantly, Cameron training and playing with a Premier League side should only mean good things for his immediate future. While certainly not a rookie or a "kid," Cameron can still learn plenty while playing in what is thought, by many, to be the most competitive league in the world. It is also worth noting that current USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has, since taking the gig last summer, made it clear that he wants the best American footballers playing overseas and not in MLS.
Stoke begin the upcoming Premier League season on August 18 when they are away to Reading. Team USA have an August 15 "friendly" at Mexico, and the USMNT will then play 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers on September 7 and September 11 against Jamaica. The hope is that Cameron can complete this move quickly and, hopefully, be in form before those two meaningful contests.
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