CARSON, Calif. – Houston defender Geoff Cameron instigated the type of dialogue no player wants to start during the first half of a final.
Cameron suffered a grade one strain in his right knee on a challenge with Adam Cristman in the 35th minute of the Dynamo's 1-0 defeat to Los Angeles in MLS Cup on Sunday night.
After Cameron felt that little strain in his knee in the moments following the tackle, he looked over to the bench to tell Houston coach Dominic Kinnear about the problem and warn him that he may have to come off the field.
“It was very, very close (about whether I would stay in the match or not),” Cameron said after the match. “I looked over at Dominic and I gave him the sign (to say), 'Hey, I'm not too sure.' I fought through the half.”
The halftime interval gave Cameron the time to have the injury assessed by the Dynamo medical staff. Cameron said he wanted a thorough evaluation of the problem because he missed almost four months last year after suffering a PCL tear in the same knee. Even though he didn't want to leave the game, he also wanted to make sure he could not do further damage to the knee.
“I went into the locker room and had the doctor look at it,” Cameron said. “It was the same knee I did last year. It was the same doctor that was there (last year). I asked him straight up: if it's going to hurt me, please tell me to stop, give me the advice that I need. He said it was just a grade one strain and it was just (about) how much pain I could tolerate. I thought I fought through the pain pretty good.”
Kinnear said he talked with Cameron to make sure he was alright to play in the second half. Cameron said he was fine, but asked Kinnear to keep an eye on him as the half progressed. Kinnear told him that if he had to restrict his attacking runs to protect his knee, then he needed to do so to ensure his fitness.
“He wasn't his normal self,” Kinnear said. “He made a couple of good, early runs in the first half. After that, he had to hold his position, so his injury did affect the way he played.”
Cameron started the second half in his usual role as a center back, but he eventually pushed into midfield as the Dynamo changed to a three-man backline and pursued an equalizer in the late stages. He wondered if he might have had the extra step required to snuff out Landon Donovan's winner if he didn't have the knee injury, but he refused to blame his situation and said he felt well enough to stay on the field.
“It was OK,” Cameron said. “I don't think it was as quick as I wanted it to be. I still thought I stepped up pretty well and cleared some good balls. I think it hindered me getting into the attack a little bit, getting the pressure and making those runs through.”
In the end, the Dynamo weren't able to conjure up an equalizer and ultimately fell to defeat. Cameron said he hopes to return to this stage fully fit next season to lift the trophy with a side that conjured up a nine-match unbeaten run to reach this year's final.
“They are good team, but so aren't we?” Cameron said. “We have a lot of guys coming back next year. We have a lot of young guys stepping up. We're hoping to be back here next year.”
Kyle McCarthy writes the Monday MLS Breakdown and frequently writes opinion pieces during the week for Goal.com. He also covers the New England Revolution for the Boston Herald and MLSsoccer.com. Contact him with your questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org follow him on Twitter by clicking here.
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