Cameron Carter-Vickers shines on soccer field for US

Updated Oct 6, 2015 at 2:04a ET

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (AP) His father had an accurate shot. So does United States defender Cameron Carter-Vickers.

His father could dribble well, too. Same with Carter-Vickers.

Only difference is his dad played basketball while Carter-Vickers naturally gravitated toward soccer while he grew up in England.

Funny, though, how the teenager is helping the Americans in a CONCACAF Olympic qualifying match Tuesday night against Panama just down the road from where his father, Howard Carter, broke into the NBA as the No. 15 overall pick of the Denver Nuggets in 1983.

No time for nostalgia, though. There's a game to be played.

Carter-Vickers had a goal last weekend as the U.S. beat Cuba 6-1 in Kansas City, Kansas. That win sealed a semifinal spot for the U.S., making the contest Tuesday more like a friendly. The all-important game is Saturday in Sandy, Utah, where the semifinal winners automatically qualify Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next summer.

''We've gotten off to a pretty good start,'' Carter-Vickers said. ''We're hoping to make it farther.''

Over the years, Carter-Vickers has watched video and heard exploits of his dad's days on the basketball court, when he helped Louisiana State reach the Final Four in 1981 and briefly played in the NBA before heading over to Europe.

Impressive, for sure. But Carter-Vickers' favorite basketball player is still LeBron James.

Sorry, dad. James is pretty good, too.

''I don't mind watching basketball,'' said Carter-Vickers, a 17-year-old who plays in Tottenham's youth academy. ''But you don't really play it that much in England. From a young age, I was playing soccer.''

There was never a doubt whether he would suit up for England or the U.S. when it came to national team duties because, well, ''England has never called me up.''

No matter, he's fitting in quite well with the red, white and blue even with his distinct English accent. He and Matt Miazga have formed quite a partnership in the back for the Americans, forging their bond at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup over the summer. The Americans were knocked out in the quarterfinals on penalty kicks by Serbia.

''Cameron is a physical presence. Very strong. Very young, but very composed at that age,'' said the 20-year-old Miazga, who plays for the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer. ''He's a great player.''

Carter-Vickers joined the Tottenham development club when he was 11. Now, he sees action on the squad's under-21 squad. Next step, joining the likes of striker Harry Kane on the first team.

''It's all up to the coaches,'' Carter-Vickers said. ''I just have to stay focused and keep working. But obviously, the end goal would be to play for Tottenham, be a regular on Tottenham's first team. If that means going on loan to get some experience, if the coaches think that would be helpful, yeah, that would be good.''

It's easy to see where he gets some of his athleticism. Carter was a force on the court. He played 55 games with Denver in 1983-84, averaging 6.2 points and 1.3 assists. He suited up in 11 more games for the Dallas Mavericks in `84-85, before embarking on a career in Europe.

Carter had quite a career at LSU, too, becoming a member of the school's all-century squad. He also remains one of the Tigers' all-time leading scorers.

''From what I've seen, he was all right,'' Carter-Vickers said, grinning.

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