Jurgen Klinsmann would've taken U.S. to World Cup - Geoff Cameron

Geoff Cameron is convinced the United States would have qualified for the World Cup had Jurgen Klinsmann remained coach, and has insisted Bruce Arena made decisions that directly cost the Americans a place in Russia this summer.

The Arena-led U.S. crashed out at the qualifying stage for the 2018 event in Russia last October after a 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago, which, combined with wins from Panama and Honduras, left the U.S. out of the game's biggest tournament for the first time since 1986.

And the Stoke City defender told The New York Times that results would have been different had Klinsmann not been sacked the previous year, adding that "Bruce Arena made decisions that cost us going to the World Cup."

Cameron said in an interview with Marc Stein: "Our names will go down as the team that didn't qualify. It's on us as players, but at the end of the day, I'm convinced if they would have kept Jurgen and not done such a drastic change, I think we would have qualified. I know we would have qualified. Instead we've gone backward."

Despite being a regular starter in the Premier League, Arena, citing fitness concerns, did not feature Cameron in the U.S.'s final two qualifiers after he struggled in the 2-0 home loss to Costa Rica.

However, in his stead, the center-back pairing of Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez struggled in the finale against Trinidad.

"Listen: I hold my hand up -- I didn't play well against Costa Rica," Cameron added. "I made a mistake; their second goal was my fault. But it was the 88th minute and we were down 1-nil. I tried to do something to help the team and I got caught out.

"But I would have more respect for a coach to say: 'You know what, Geoff? I don't fancy you today. I think this is a better lineup.' I'd say: 'OK, no problem, you told me the truth.' But if you tell me I'm not fit enough, that's like an insult to me as a professional."

Off the pitch, Cameron came in for criticism early last year when he professed his support of President Donald Trump's immigration policy that temporarily barred people entry into the U.S. from seven majority Muslim countries.

Cameron told Sports Illustrated he believed a "temporary pause on immigration" was an adequate solution to the country's security concerns.

As for the reputation that came with making such politically charged public statements, he said: "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."