Cameron a Mountaineer Connection as U.S. Begins World Cup Play - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Cameron a Mountaineer Connection as U.S. Begins World Cup Play

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Marlon LeBlanc speaks at WVU Coaches Caravan. Marlon LeBlanc speaks at WVU Coaches Caravan.
MORGANTOWN - The world is looking at Brazil this summer with last week’s start of the World Cup and today, the United States begins its stay in Rio.

The American team takes on Ghana five days into the event that has soccer fanatics around the globe – and even the most casual fans – glued to their televisions for the international affair.

A West Virginia University connection exists on this year’s U.S. Men’s National Team as former Mountaineer Geoff Cameron makes his World Cup debut. Cameron transferred from WVU following the spring of 2006 when the Mountaineers were making a coaching change to bring in current head coach Marlon LeBlanc.

He spent the rest of his career closer to his home of Attleboro, Massachusetts at the University of Rhode Island. Despite the fact that he left the program before LeBlanc arrived, the Mountaineer coach has built a relationship with Cameron in the years since as his professional career has grown.

“When I was over in England just a few weeks ago, I was texting with Geoff, who is playing for Stoke City now,” LeBlanc said at a recent WVU Coaches Caravan stop. “Geoff’s comment to me was – because my first year here, that fall of 2006, we went unbeaten in the Big East and won the Big East championship – [his comment] was ‘I wish I would have stayed.’ But yeah, once a Mountaineer, always a Mountaineer is the slogan here.”

It isn’t only LeBlanc who got to know Cameron following his college days in Morgantown, either. Cameron was selected No. 42 in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft by the Houston Dynamo and then-team president Oliver Luck.

As history has played out, Luck went on to take the athletic director position at his alma mater and now Cameron is having this sort of success, looking to make his first start in the World Cup.

Cameron spoke with NBC Sports from the U.S. team hotel in Natal this week about the opportunity to represent his country on such a stage.

I am super excited. It is surreal,” Cameron said. “I try not to think about where I am right now, that I am actually part of a World Cup and I’m in this World Cup. It is a dream of mine since I was a little kid. Obviously the nerves kicking in here and there, the best way to deal with that is to distract yourself, keep yourself busy, so watching movies, jamming out to music or being around the guys where you are joking around that always helps. You just want to get on the pitch, start playing and get that first touch underway.”

That first touch is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday night and while LeBlanc says he and the rest of Mountaineer Nation are rooting for Cameron, he is also clearly excited just to get the United States’ part of the World Cup started.

Every four years is the greatest time for soccer and it’s probably the biggest time where the United States and this country really gets excited about it because every game is on TV,” LeBlanc said.

As a coach in a nation where the sport continues to grow on a yearly basis, LeBlanc enjoys this opportunity to reach even more fans and get more kids kicking around a soccer ball.

We’re excited that the United States is in it and gets the opportunity to play in the hardest group, the ‘Group of Death’ as it’s referred to,” LeBlanc said. “With Ghana and then Portugal and Germany, we’re going to have a hard time getting out of our group, but there’s nothing like getting into that euphoria of the World Cup and even the most timid soccer fans seem to get excited about the World Cup, especially when the U.S. is in it.”

And if that slogan LeBlanc referred to is to be believed – Once a Mountaineer, Always a Mountaineer – then a Mountaineer is suiting up for the United States.

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