The Americanization of Stoke City is Bad for the U.S. National Team

On Sunday, Geoff Cameron was named man-of-the-match in his first game for his new team, Stoke City.  After weeks of waiting and paperwork, Cameron was finally able to take the pitch after a transfer that continued the gradual march of quality U.S. players into higher leagues.  Playing midfield (!) his City team held the usually high-scoring Arsenal to a scoreless draw and added another point to a total that, by the end of the season, will undoubtedly be enough to remain in the top flight of the best soccer league in the world.

On the heals of this successful debut, national teammate and sometimes backline mate Maurice Edu announced that he had freed himself from the mess that was Rangers in the Scottish system and was coming to Stoke.  The move brought memories of past U.S. players gathering at prominent teams, including Landon Donovan and Tim Howard at Everton, pairings that brought the less glamorous (at least in casual soccer fans’ eyes) teams into the U.S. consciousness.  Two U.S. national team players potentially starting for the same EPL side would naturally lead one to think that Stoke City would become a more recognized, acknowledged, and embraced side for U.S. soccer fans.  It also seemingly fulfills U.S. national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s desire to have more of his players playing at a higher level.

But before we all go out and buy our striped Britannia shirts, I would suggest that this exodus of U.S. talent to Staffordshire is actually a negative to the U.S. national team and I think we will rue the day both players joined the side.  For those unaware, the Potters play a style of football that can generously be called survivalist and traditional or, more accurately and more negatively, can be called dragging soccer back into the 1960s.  The strategy for Tony Pulis’s side is simple: pack your own end of the field with as ten of your starting 11 and, when you finally gain possession of the ball, hoof it up-field to your target man (this season, English national Peter Crouch).  To call this a defensive style is slightly misleading, as it is rather a physical style where the defenders will do what they can to dispossess the opposition of the ball.  Away teams going into the Britannia know they will come out black and blue, and they will struggle for every chance on net they get.  Against the Potters, an away draw is usually a very good thing.

That is not to say that such a style of play is reprehensible (at least until they, say, break someone’s leg).  The fact is Stoke City are way out of the spending league of teams at the top of the EPL table, and their embrace of this physical style have allowed them to stay up in the top flight since 2008.  But their style is not the style of play that Klinsmann is trying to impose on his team and it is actually quite the opposite.  Klinsmann wants the national team to play a smooth passing, possession based but attacking style of play.  This is the exact opposite of how Stoke approach a game and I wonder if the vast difference in play will negatively impact Edu and Cameron.  Players are often asked to play multiple styles between national and club teams, but this instance may be different.

Why? The positional play will be different for both teams.  Edu has normally played as a holding midfielder in the U.S. system but after his successful stint in the Mexico friendly, there may be a future at that position in the next World Cup.  Cameron lined up in the midfield on Sunday but his national team future is seemingly in the backline.  For players who have struggled to establish a set position nationally, this back and forth could hinder the U.S. team.  Both of these players should be playing for a team that will at least be nominally similar in style and playing the positions where they look most promising.  If that is in the Championship or another league, so be it.  When Jurgen Klinsmann said he wanted his pool of players to play at the highest level, this is not what he meant.  I hope we do not regret these signings, especially at such a critical position, but I suspect we will.

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53 Responses to The Americanization of Stoke City is Bad for the U.S. National Team

  1. mbob says:

    What an absolute load of crap. You don’t know what you’re talking
    about knob!

  2. Andy says:

    Has the writer actually seen Stoke play? It’s quite lazy
    “journalism” to post such an article without a true understanding
    of Stoke’s style of play………

  3. Glenn says:

    What nonsense. A good player is a good player no matter what system
    they are asked to perform in. Are you suggesting that Cameron and
    Edu would be better off at Houston or Rangers respectivley? Clearly
    they are not good enough for a top 6 side in England so I would
    think they should be happy that Stoke City have decided to take a
    chance on them both. I see you have also bought into the media (and
    Arsenal?) myths regarding Stoke City. There was once a time when
    football (yes, football) was considered a man’s sport. God forbid
    you ever saw Denis Smith or Mick Pejic in their prime at
    Stoke……you would probably have fainted at the sight of the
    blood……and that was just thier own!

  4. Brandon says:

    As a fellow analyst, I can definitely see what you are getting at.
    But I do think that you may be over-dramatizing the possible
    negative effects while completely overlooking the positive aspects.

  5. Tijuana Robert says:

    I respect your opinion but Stoke City is probably one of the best
    mid-table clubs in the EPL.

  6. Simon says:

    You obviously don’t watch much of Stoke City then? You can’t watch
    the Arsenal game and make a snap judgement when most teams deploy
    such a tactic against the gunners. Sure they are a physical team
    with players like Huth, Shawcross, Whelan etc, but what about
    Etherington, Pennant and Kightly? They are forward thinking
    attacking wingers, and from what I see of Stoke (which is quite a
    lot as my flat mate is a Stoke fan), most of the play goes through
    them. Adding Cameron to that midfield only adds another player who
    likes to play passing football, so I’m sorry, but you are being
    completely unfair on Stoke as a football club. Too busy listening
    to pundits who do the exact same thing and only watch the team when
    they play the big clubs. They are not their to kick people off the
    park despite what their reputation says (the Aaron Ramsey leg break
    was an accident). This is a totally unfair, disrespectful
    assessment and one that is completely wrong. They are an
    established Premier League team, so no, Cameron playing for a team
    in the best league in the world, in front of some of the loudest
    fans in the land is not bad for the US national team. Ridiculous
    blog post.

  7. dawson says:

    First im glad more American players from the MLS are coming to the
    premier league! will show and improve USA players how to play
    the real game of football, instead of usa soccer 2.will help the
    USA national team further progress in tournaments, lets face it USA
    have never gotten to a quater-final in a world cup tournament. Or
    for that matter never won any trophy. stoke city is the team i
    support. Always have done, Always will do we have gotten to a FA
    Cup final, done well in the Europe League ok are style is not the
    best, but it works, you make stoke city sound as if they go out and
    break limps every 3 seconds…you must be a Arsenal FC fan ok we
    don’t have the money but were not in a £500 million pound debit
    like Man-Utd or a Russian oil tycoon like Chelsea have at least
    stoke city dont buy players like big names like beckham who are
    passed there prime who MLS clubs only buy these players not for the
    play but for the publicity and selling shirts the MLS is scrapheap
    league mostly full of international players passed there prime,
    (Beckham,Henry) bet you in 20 years time messi moves to LA GALAXY

    • Tijuana Robert says:

      Your comment is hard to read.

    • CTBlues says:

      You must only watch the LA Galaxy and Redbulls matches if any at
      all if you think the MLS is a bunch of out of work 30+ year old

    • Charles says:

      One, I think he forgot US won their group stage in the last world
      cup. Probably one of those guys that bet on England to win it all.
      I wondered at the time who was that dumb to make them one of the
      Two, why does he think Hay is an Arsenal fan ? I missed something
      there. Maybe he could take a guess who I root for….hint, I live
      in Seattle.

    • Manny says:

      They did get to a quarter-final (2002) and a semi-final (1930). We
      don’t need to learn football from the brits, since u haven’t won
      anything since 1966!

  8. Pat in Houston says:

    This is one of the most inane, wrong-headed, short-sighted articles
    I’ve ever seen on a site that, frankly, seems to specialize in
    them. Would you rather they play in the MLS? Hold out until
    Barcelona come calling? Has playing attacking mid at Fulham hurt
    Dempsey’s ability to play forward/striker when needed by USMNT?
    American players playing top-flight football in Europe, regardless
    of the club’s on-field tendencies, is ESSENTIAL to the future
    development of the national program. More successful American
    players will do wonders to reverse anti-American stereotypes among
    European coaches/executives, thus opening more frequent and more
    lucrative opporutunites. This, in turn, would lead to more current
    American players being developed in the world’s best leagues
    year-round, but it also makes the idea of playing soccer more
    attractive to young American athletes - which is the MOST important
    key to the USA becoming a successful nation in international
    football. But even if I forgive the ridiculousness (as shown above)
    of the premise on the basis that you have to publish SOMETHING
    every day just for the sake of content, the author’s shallow and
    misguided support of this premise (re: Stoke’s tendencies) render
    the piece completely meritless. How ’bout a little more editorial
    discretion please, Gaffer?

  9. S says:

    yeah, i mean….US internationals in one of the top 3 leagues in
    the world can only be a good thing for us

  10. peno says:

    what a load of poor rubish,or garbage this report is,stoke are in
    the best league in the world

  11. Alex says:

    What a load of rubbish. First, against most major opponets, the US
    has to defend unless Hay thinks we are passing Spain/Germany and
    such off the pitch. But I assume he is not dumb enough to think
    that. Or does Hay think that Man City and United were ready to make
    bids on Cameron and Edu??? So then, I can think of no better place
    to learn how to defend properly and keep a shape than Stoke City.
    Furthermore, Stoke has shown signs of improvement through their
    signings and play. If you watched the Potters 4 years ago, and
    watch them now, you see better players and ambition. As an American
    I have grown to love the Potters, and am glad they have two
    Americans playing with them. Hay obviously bought into the
    sterotype without watching the Stoke game in game out like I have.
    I actually went and saw them play last year (beat Fulhum 2-0), and
    will return again and hopefully will see Cameron grow with team

  12. Andy Jones says:

    I have to say this Journalism as poor as what American football is
    !!!! Enough said … Robert Hay u must be toss at your job

  13. David Cameron says:

    Stupid cunt.

  14. James says:

    My biggest concern for Edu and the national team would be the game
    time he’ll get at Stoke. Cameron, Whelan, Palacios, Whitehead,
    Delap, Ness, and Huddlestone rumoured to be arriving soon. All
    rivals at centre midfield. Rangers fans, to a man, couldn’t wait to
    see Edu out of the door, and Stoke’s only rivals for his signature
    were Championship team, Ipswich. He’ll get encouragement from the
    Stoke faithful, but the signs are concerning for his long term

  15. Charles says:

    Who are these new people blogging ? Did Robert Hay ticked of the
    EPL crowd ? What a joke………………..For the making and
    developing for that national team, Kinnear’s leadership is HUGE.
    And Stoke is not that good. It must be quite a bit more money.
    Almost a given that Robert Hay has seen Stoke play ( way too much
    thanks to ESPN ) wonder how many posting even know who Kinnear is ?
    I would say the guy that says he is from Houston, but he asked for
    Gaffer for “editorial discretion”…..Gaffer ? Are you kidding me ?
    There is no one with more slanted journalism. Seriously, Gaffer ?

    • Earl Reed says:

      Well, our editor does go by the name, “The Gaffer.” I’m sure he’s from Houston.

      With that being said, I’m not so concerned about the team they went to, but instead the fact they BOTH went to Stoke. They both need time on the pitch to improve. They are both central midfielders, and in Pulis’ system, only two defensive or box-to-box midfielders can be deployed. Pulis has Dean Whitehead, Rory Delap, and Wilson Palacios vying for time. Regardless of how direct or how free-flowing Stoke plays, someone’s going to sit on the bench, not getting playing time.

  16. Alex says:

    I know who Kinnear is than you very much. Newsflash - Kinnear and
    Kinsmann wanted Cameron to go to Stoke. Klinsmann wrote a letter
    along with Bradley to help me this happen. So let me guess, you
    know more than the last two managers and Cameron’s ex-coach. Stoke
    not that good? What better teams are Americans currently playing
    for????? And have you even factored in the level of competition
    that Cameron will face now with the likes of Man City, Arsenal,
    Chelsea, United ……or do you also think he is better suited
    developing playing against the MLS clubs?

    • Earl Reed says:

      And here’s a Newsflash: Maurice Edu was not at Stoke when that campaign for Cameron’s transfer was in full force.

    • Charles says:

      Didn’t see you on there Alex. Sorry I know you know
      Kinnear…………………………………………We will
      disagree but I think that players are better off in many cases not
      moving to England. The teams are very deep in England ( unlike MLS
      ) and the games are very unrealistic. See Man Citys +69 GD last
      year. All that adds up to is American playing for a team that gives
      up a ton of goals ( bad if you are trying to develop offensively
      too ), if you fall out of favor because your team gives up too many
      goals, good luck, you will be sitting like Dempsey and no one gives
      a cr@p. They are probably happy to see Dempsey sit, no ? In MLS
      Brek Shea goes through a stretch, and he still plays, and starts to
      play well, when he moves to Europe soon, not so. Does he get back,
      after a bad spell in England ? Good luck, see Dempsey for that
      answer…………………..If someone got on a top team,
      different story.

  17. Robert Hay says:

    Wow, I am glad something I wrote has gotten such feedback! To
    answer some of the numerous questions/statements that have been
    made, just because you are on the roster for a team in the EPL does
    not make it the best possible fit. I would rather these
    non-automatic selections (of which Cameron and, yes, Edu are) go to
    a team where they will get playing time and grow their game. Brek
    Shea will go through this soon - is it better ManCity (for example)
    sign him and he not play? Just being on a top team in Europe does
    not make you a better player, and if you listen to the EPL Talk
    podcast you will hear their discussions of young British (English,
    Welsh, Scot) players suffering at times from this mentality. I
    think playing for a well-managed, Championship side is not a bad
    thing. Is Stoke City a poorly managed second rate club? Not
    according to their track record. My point here is that two
    transitional players on the same team IS a negative when the style
    does not conform to what the national team wants them to be. And
    yes, I have watched Stoke play. Let the debate continue, this has
    been great.

    • Pat in Houston says:

      There is an argument to be made that sitting at a top flight club
      hinders development more than playing at a lower level club.
      However, that didn’t appear to be the argument you were actually
      making in your original post. The post’s main point was the
      detrimental effects of American players playing different roles
      with club and country. To the extent that that argument is even
      logical, it disregards the overwhelming weight of the positive
      effects the continued trend of more Americans playing in European
      top flight leagues will have on USMNT.

  18. steve says:

    the english prem league is the best in the world - you should be
    glad of any u.s.a player playing here, let alone stoke its far
    faster and physical than u.s.a football (as cameron said in

    • CTBlues says:

      It’s better to be playing in division 2 then riding the pine in
      division 1 waiting for someone to get hurt or stop performing.

    • Charles says:

      Ummm, yeah in an interview for a British newspaper ? Landon said he
      really like playing for Everton so much some thought he was going
      to move. Everton is probably still overly excited about it. And no
      we should not just be glad a US player is playing there. Wrong.

  19. Alex says:

    “My point here is that two transitional players on the same team IS
    a negative when the style does not conform to what the national
    team wants them to be” Actually you made a much larger point than
    the above streamlined version of it….. And again, Kilinsmann
    wanted Cameron at Stoke. I certainly trust his judgement over yours
    on to what he thinks will help a player at the national level, no
    offense. I believe the US team is a bit like Stoke, they sit back,
    defend and counter. Thus, I think this is a good move. Cameron is
    and will get playing time. Were you upset when Edu rode the pine at
    the Rangers? Your whole point is they might not play? But what if
    theya re, then does that make your whole blog pointless? Cameron is
    playing again today And I 100% disagree, playing against better
    competetion makes you better …in all sports. That is why your
    bring players up (say in baseball) from single A to triple A.
    Pretty much most coaches will tell you that. As for Charles,
    Dempsey plays quite a bit, so not sure what you mean? He played 37
    games last year. If you mean this season, well he indicated he
    wanted to leave Fulhum, so what do you expect? And you bring up
    Breck Shea - just maybe he is not devloping where is is and needs
    bigger challenges. If you are calling this season beneficial to his
    carrer, I beg to differ. He needs a change, and I think the call up
    against Mexico was a good call by Klinsmann

    • Charles says:

      My point with Dempsey is he is not playing this year and may not
      play at all this year. Do you really think anyone in England cares
      ? No. They are probably glad he is not playing. We won their group
      in the last WCup. IF he were in the US, everyone involved would
      make sure that problem is solved. ( not saying Dempsey should move,
      so no one go off on tangents I don’t give a cr@p about )
      I can see what you are saying about Shea, I just disagree. I think
      Americans go overseas, they are more expendable than the
      non-foreign counterparts. Like LD and other MLS players that moved,
      Shea could easily handle the “bigger” challenge….its not that big
      of a deal.

  20. The original Tom says:

    US players do not exist for the national team, they exist to
    further their own careers. Then the national team picks the best.
    Hence, Klinsman can give counsel, but it is not all about him and
    his team. Having said that, I agree that playing and winning on a
    quality Championship (English tier 2) side is better than riding
    the bench of a top EPL club- that is true for all players, no
    matter the nationality. Same for playing in the MLS as opposed to
    riding the bench somewhere else. All this dismisses money, however;
    if you can make a million bucks instead of a working man’s wage,
    you’ve got to take it.

    • Tijuana Robert says:

      I’d rather ride the pine for Stoke than play in the Championship.
      The reason, it makes you fight for a starting spot, which elevates
      your game.

  21. TG says:

    If the world’s 2nd oldest club is buying up american
    FOOTBALL-players is a bad thing for the U.S of A, then I don’t know
    what’s what anymore.. The fact is that The Potters would probably
    tear up the US international team and beat them thoroughly. UP THE

    • Manny says:

      I’ve seen Stoke City play many, many, may times. They do play a
      physical and bunkered down style of “football”. I’m seeing this
      from an objective point of view. I watch EPL, La Liga, and Serie-A
      matches ever weekend over the past 12 years or more! 1.EPL=the
      fastest league in the world, very physical, and most exciting in
      terms of play. 2. La Liga=A lot more technical than the EPL and a
      bit slower in terms of pace, but creativity on the ball and passing
      is much more evident. 3.Serie-A=A physical, yet technical league
      with a demand on midfield play and very structured defenses. Based
      on Research done over the past 10 years, La Liga and Serie-A Clubs
      have won most of the Champions League Tournaments In Europe, so the
      EPL, is a bit overrated! I don’t see the EPL being the best league
      in the world in a few years…

  22. Pete says:

    @TG “he fact is that The Potters would probably tear up the US
    international team and beat them thoroughly. UP THE MIGHTYH
    POTTERS!” Hahahaha, thanks for the laugh buddy.

  23. SSReporters says:

    I’m just shocked Stoke haven’t snapped up Jermaine Jones given like
    many other Stoke players he’s a red card waiting to happen. This
    article is um …. the other commenters beat me to the punch.

  24. Alan says:

    Did I stumble upon the right blog? I think you lost me at “EPL is
    the best league in the world”.

    • SSReporters says:

      MLS is the best league in the world, right?

      • Charles says:

        Amen bro !

      • Alan says:

        It all depends on the individual fan really. Obviously for Charles
        it is, and there is nothing wrong with that. For some of those
        posting here the EPL is, and that’s ok too. I would personally
        rather watch Serie A, La Liga, and Bundesliga over EPL for various
        reasons personally, mostly due to the style of play that tends to
        surround those leagues. I find EPL rather boring outside of the top
        4 teams. Again, that is my personal opinion. If Arsenal, Man U, or
        Man City are not playing, then I turn it off pretty quick (unless
        Chelsea is getting beat because I despise them). This stupid notion
        that there is a defined “best league in the world” is silly, and
        anybody that spews such nonsense loses instant credibility. I don’t
        care if you think that all of the best players play there (they
        don’t) or that the league has the best play overall (I don’t). It
        doesn’t make it so for everyone. I follow MLS mostly because I have
        a local team that I can watch in person and the same 3 teams don’t
        win every year, but I DO watch other leagues and other national
        teams (my favorites being Italy, Arsenal, Juventus, AS Roma, and
        Atletico Madrid - not in that order). Good job trying to troll me
        and box me into a corner though.

      • Manny says:

        No sarcasm, man! Be Real!

  25. Robert Hay says:

    Yeah Alan I am surprised more people aren’t complaining about that.
    I thought ::that:: would make people mad….

  26. Sc scf scfc ok says:

    Robert Hay, you are an imbecile. I suggest you do not look at the
    amount of feedback you get, but rather the content of it. As you
    have clearly skimmed through the feedback without understanding it
    (very much in the same way you obviously researched Stoke before
    writing this utter dross) I imagine you did not pick up on the
    common sentiment which is; your article is shite, and that as a
    national team you are lucky to have midfielders that are pitting
    their wits against the best in the world and at the very least,
    training with players who do. The only negative resulting from the
    Cameron and Edu move to Stoke is the increased exposure I will now
    have to ill informed and poorly written articles such as this one.
    And “Roster”…?! Are you serious?! Give yourself a day off.

  27. jam123 says:

    It doesn’t matter how a team plays the game as long as it follows
    the rules and regulations of The EPL there isn’t any reason why
    people should argue that their style of play is ‘negative’. If it
    works for stoke then why change it?

    • Charles says:

      Dont think that anyone said they should change. The team has to do,
      what it has to do, but that doesn’t mean that Americans would want
      NT mambers to play there. They are not going to play like Houston
      does, where he first developed into NT quality, obviously.

  28. Clampdown says:

    Hey Robert. I am surprised this is on MLS Talk, as it has little to
    do with MLS. But, anyway, while I get the point you’re trying to
    make I can’t say I agree. I used to be one of those who liked to
    take a pop at Stoke for their less than pleasing approach to the
    game, and particularly the long throw tactics. I have since come to
    appreciate Stoke quite a bit more. They aren’t all brawn, no skill.
    While they still rely heavily on a physical approach to the game
    they actually do move the ball around pretty well and have some
    skillful players. While I also thought that perhaps it wouldn’t be
    best to have both Cameron and Edu there at the same time, I’ve
    changed my mind on that as well. Really, what’s the harm in having
    two players that are versatile enough to play both defensive mid
    and center back. Both of these guys have done it before in their
    careers. If they are good enough and comfortable enough doing that
    I think it’s a good situation both for Stoke and the USMNT. While
    Klinsmann may want to play a different style than Pulis, I don’t
    think it really matters. Edu and Cameron have both been
    professionals for several years. The skill set they have is the
    skill set they are going to have. They might become more
    intelligent players as time goes on, and playing at Stoke may
    actually force them to think and react quicker than they had to
    previously in MLS and Scotland. That would be a positive for the
    national team. As someone said above, Klinsmann is going to select
    the best available options. The US team is already overloaded with
    defensive mid options. If anything, having Edu drop back into a
    center back position would be great for the US because he isn’t the
    best among the midfield options.

  29. Charles says:

    I love how in these conversations EVERYONE, and by everyone I mean
    everyone ( except me ) ignores the money. Hilliarious. IF Houston
    offered him more money, he would be back before some troll could
    say “EPL is greatest league in the world”. End of story.

  30. Lysander says:

    1. You should state ‘One of the top leagues’ not the top league’.
    2. This blog is for MLS right? What does this story have to do with
    MLS? Both play for EPL now.

  31. Wellfed Sounder says:

    Robert Hay- Man, kicked a bee’s nest with the EPL/Stoke City thing,

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