He had to overcome a knee injury as well as his concussion in 2017, with the World Cup elimination and his first dose of unflattering headlines off the field mixed in.
Early last year, while still recovering from knee ligament damage, Cameron told Sports Illustrated that, unlike several of his national-team colleagues, he would support “a temporary pause on immigration for the purpose of evaluating and improving vetting procedures” in response to a travel ban on citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations enacted by President Trump.
Ever since those comments, and a tweet during the presidential election in which he called Hillary Clinton a “crook,” Cameron is known to a segment of the American soccer public as the player who makes politically charged statements. His February immigration comments drew a backlash, which Cameron said included death threats via social media, that has gradually curbed his long-held willingness to discuss politics publicly.
“Now I just kind of leave it alone,” Cameron said.
Pressed about how he feels about the travel ban nearly a year later, Cameron insisted: “I never said I supported a Muslim ban. I said I support a better vetting procedure. And I still do.”
As for being branded a Trump supporter, Cameron said: “I’m not like a hard-core Republican. I wasn’t walking around wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ hats. I just couldn’t vote for Hillary — I just didn’t like Hillary as a person or a politician. I tend to side with more Republican or conservative views, but if there was someone that I thought was a better candidate than Trump or Hillary, I would have voted for them hands down.
“I still get tweets that say, ‘Geoff’s a good footballer but I hate his politics.’ It hurt me at the beginning, because I was like, ‘This is what people think of me?’ But then I got to the point where I was like: ‘You know what? Screw it.’ These people don’t really know me.”
It is an example of the defiance he has tried to adopt from his combative national-team teammate Clint Dempsey. Before returning to M.L.S. in August 2013, Dempsey made 218 Premier League appearances, establishing a record for American outfield players that Cameron (at 163 through Tuesday) is now chasing.
“You had Timmy, Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel, Brad Guzan — Americans have been known over here for the quality of our ‘keepers,” said Cameron, who has made more than 160 Premier League appearances for Stoke. “But no one really respected us as players.
“Clint came over here and changed the game for us. He did it with a chip on his shoulder and he’s given me the encouragement to say, ‘I’m American, so what?’
“You have ups and downs in your career, but you can’t let that define you as a player. I’m not going to let missing the World Cup define me. Obviously it’s a massive disappointment that we didn’t make it, but neither did Wales — and they have a lot of good players.”
There is more defiance in Cameron’s voice when he talks about Stoke’s relegation scrap. He has two more seasons left on his contract, and he is determined to spend them at the highest level.
“I’m not ready to leave this rain,” Cameron said. “I’m here 10 months out of the year. This is home for me.
“I’m comfortable driving on the other side of the road.”