A lot has been made recently of DeAndre Yedlin’s move from the Seattle Sounders to Tottenham Hotspur. However, many US soccer fans might not be aware that there has already been a US national team defensive prospect on Tottenham for a few years now. His name is Cameron Carter-Vickers, and this 17-year-old is one of the most impressive central defensive prospects in the US youth system.
However, the problem is that he is also an impressive central defensive prospect in the English youth system. Therefore, the longer he goes uncapped for the USA, the more time England has to realize his skill and take up the option.
Cameron Carter-Vickers was born and raised in Southend, England, the son of an American father, Howard Carter, and an English mother. At the age of 11 he joined the Tottenham academy and has remained there ever since. The athleticism he has displayed thus far for Tottenham reminds many of his athletically talented father, a former professional basketball player who was a member of LSU’s Final Four team in 1981 and played in the NBA for the Denver Nuggets. Although Cameron Carter-Vickers grew up playing both basketball and soccer, he decided to stay with the sport of soccer and the skills he learned playing both sports have definitely helped him as a player. When his parents later separated, Cameron stayed in England, maintaining a connection to his adopted homeland through annual visits to his father’s home in Baton Rouge, Lousiana.
Carter-Vickers stands at 6’1 and weighs a solid 190 pounds. His height and strength give him the power to fend off defenders and dominate in aerial battles, which is why he has excelled as a central defender. It helps that Tottenham has the pedigree to successfully develop central defenders who have been trained by their academy. Sol Campbell and Ledley King are examples of Tottenham-trained defenders who enjoyed very successful careers as center backs in the Premier League. Therefore, it is safe to say that Tottenham is one of the better academies for Cameron to train in so that he can become the best central defender he can be. Recently, he signed a two-year contract that will keep him at White Hart Lane until 2016. He has plenty of time at Tottenham to continue his development.
As is the case with most dual-nationals, US Soccer needs to reach out early and often if it hopes to secure key players’ allegiance before another FA comes calling. So far US Soccer has done so. During a tournament at IMG Academy in December 2013, while he was playing for Tottenham’s youth academy team. US Scouts noticed that Cameron was eligible for a US passport . U-18 head coach Javier Perez reached out to Cameron and Tottenham about his availability. Soon after, Cameron acquired an American passport and made his debut for the U-18 squad. By October 2014 he was being called into the U-23 camp and starting against Brazil. Despite the obvious interest from the US he still has no caps that tie him to US soccer so his long-term international future remains up for grabs
There is a lot of upside to Cameron Carter-Vickers. At age 17 he is one of the youngest players on the U-20 US Youth National team, and he has already solidified himself as one of their two first-choice center backs. The sky is the limit for him as long as he gets the time he needs in order to develop. At a club of Tottenham’s size there is always the concern that Cameron will have trouble breaking into the first team. Although this concern is very real, during his time at Southampton Tottenham’s head coach Mauricio Pochettino has shown that he believes in giving youth players from the academy a chance with the first team. After a few years, when Cameron Carter-Vickers reaches the point when he can challenge for a first-team spot, he will surely get a chance, assuming Mauricio is still there. If not, the Tottenham academy will have prepared him well for a career on another Premier League or Championship team.
When asked which country he would like to represent, he has stated his desire to play for the USMNT. However, his rapid progress has not gone unnoticed by the England media. Although the English FA has made no overtures, there is no guarantee that there is not one coming in the future. Under Jurgen Klinsman, the current USMNT coaching regime has had much success in luring dual nationals to play for the US, but the failure to convince Giuseppe Rossi and Neven Subotic still haunts US Soccer. There is much hope that Cameron Carter-Vickers will not join that sobering list.
Even though he is still young, it is imperative that Cameron get capped as soon as possible. If he performs well at the U-20 World Cup in New Zealand this summer, it is safe to assume that England FA could decide to make him a primary target. Therefore, with a dual-national player of Carter-Vickers’ caliber, the USMNT needs to make its move, striking while the iron is heating up, instead of once it is scalding hot. By that point it might be too late.