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Discussing Eric Lichaj’s surprising U.S. national team roster inclusion (Hint: Timothy Chandler’s days are kaput!)

Nov 11, 2013, 6:32 PM EDT

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Eric Lichaj has circled the periphery of the U.S. player pool since Jurgen Klinsmann’s arrival two-plus years ago. The outside back’s most recent game time in a national team shirt came in the 2011 Gold Cup, when he got into a few matches and held his own, despite playing on the left, not his best side.

Those were Bob Bradley’s final matches as United States manager; Lichaj had not been called into a camp under Klinsmann – not until Monday, that is.

After playing irregularly last year for Aston Villa, Lichaj is a fixture this year for Nottingham Forest in England’s (second tier) Championship. That consistent playing time provided him the opportunity. Now we can infer two things from his selection for the national team’s pair of upcoming friendlies.

First, the right back spot remains wide, wide open – and still something of an issue.

This is not exactly “new news,” of course.

Steve Cherundolo could still re-claim the spot he held for so much of the last 10 years. But he is just now dressing again for Hannover, having found a place on the bench for the first time this year only last weekend. Cherundolo, 34, is only recently back from injury. Until he can / does, Klinsmann has to be aggressive about Plans B and C, etc.

“Hope,” in other words, cannot be the plan at right back.

If Cherundolo cannot regain form or fitness or remain healthy or whatever, Fabian Johnson, Brad Evans and Michael Parkhurst are all in the running. All have their strengths and weaknesses – but none of them will inspire tremendous confidence as a World Cup starter along the back line.

(MORE: Klinsmann chooses squad for Scotland, Austria friendlies)

Thus, Klinsmann is forced to gamble and scramble a bit. Which is why Lichaj will drop into camp and perhaps appear against Scotland or Austria despite the manager’s recent assertions that “there are no surprises coming around the corner.”

Past that, this much seems certain:

Timothy Chandler is plum out of chances in Klinsmann’s book.

The German-American had been so wishy-washy about his international ambition and leanings, and Klinsmann seemed content to let the talented young defender work things out – but only to a point. Chandler is playing regularly for Nurnberg (although the club is bottom of the Bundesliga table), but his latest exclusion is pretty telling.

When Klinsmann is calling in guys who haven’t been with the team in two years, but not summoning a Bundesliga starter, it seems safe to say the manager is “done” with that guy.

  1. golazojones - Nov 11, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    Had high hopes for Chandler, but, I’m glad that Jurgen is going to use other players now.

    • bear06 - Nov 12, 2013 at 3:18 PM

      Chandler is only 23 and he could easily come back to the U.S. MNT in March or in May if he keeps working hard.

    • ojom4130 - Nov 12, 2013 at 6:27 PM

      Chandler has shown a disinterest both in attendance and performance. It would be a huge mistake for Klinsmann not to look elsewhere.

      • bear06 - Nov 13, 2013 at 4:40 AM

        1 bad performance in Honduras? Everybody played bad in that game.

      • wfjackson3 - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:38 PM

        You see disinterest, others see the facts.

  2. cfutch - Nov 11, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    I dont think Klinsmann should be “done” with any American at this point. The player pool is not Deep enough to simply write someone off

    • danielofthedale - Nov 11, 2013 at 7:41 PM

      Chandler has had plenty of chances to play for the US and nearly everyone of those times he found an excuse for a reason not playing. He clearly does not want to put in the time and travel to be part of this team so he should be shown the door.

      • bear06 - Nov 12, 2013 at 3:12 PM

        Wrong. He was injured most of the times when there was a camp.

      • ojom4130 - Nov 12, 2013 at 6:29 PM

        There was a claim of injury once, where he played for Nurnberg a few days later. Klinsmann is no fool.

      • wfjackson3 - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:39 PM

        Prove it. You say Chandler found an excuse everyone [sic] of those times. Prove it.

    • bear06 - Nov 12, 2013 at 3:17 PM

      Agreed!

  3. hildezero - Nov 11, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    I don’t think you should be talking like that about Klinsmann’s team. To say, “not Deep enough” is ignorance. You’re the first person I’ve heard in a long time to say that. You must not follow soccer enough.

  4. hildezero - Nov 11, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    Is that true that one time he said that he was scared to fly? It must’ve been an excuse that he used then, right?…

    • bostonredsoccer - Nov 11, 2013 at 9:34 PM

      More of an exaggeration than a real problem. He said in an interview that he really doesn’t like to fly. That’s it… no phobia, just an unhappy flyer (like about 75% of the people on most commercial flights).

      • wfjackson3 - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:43 PM

        Did you consider he might be embarrassed by his phobia? I am not sure either way, but it is as reasonable a conclusion as your own.

      • bostonredsoccer - Nov 18, 2013 at 5:31 PM

        I take him at his word. He says he doesn’t like flying. I don’t see anything hidden in that. If you want to extrapolate on his reasons, feel free.

    • bear06 - Nov 12, 2013 at 3:13 PM

      It’s not an excuse. A lot of people are afraid of flying.

  5. bostonredsoccer - Nov 11, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    Since he hasn’t been back since the locker room issues that surfaced around the Honduras game (and a less-than-stellar on-field performance), you have to wonder if the reason for exclusion has little to do with talent/fitness. Perhaps (and this is certainly speculation on my part), he gained some enemies in the camp or didn’t get along or others resented his lack of commitment to the team. Team chemistry is critical and that sometimes means leaving out a talented player.

    • bear06 - Nov 12, 2013 at 3:14 PM

      I highly doubt it. He is friends with Dempsey, Altidore and F. Johnson.

  6. ojom4130 - Nov 11, 2013 at 10:53 PM

    I’ve never seen Chandler have a good game away from Germany. Evans is not a FB. He’s an average mid at Seattle Sounders who rarely plays FB. There are 5 FBs in MLS better than him.

    • bear06 - Nov 12, 2013 at 3:15 PM

      You must be a new U.S. MNT fan then because Chandler was a beast against Argentina, Paraguay and Ecuador.

  7. hildezero - Nov 12, 2013 at 12:46 AM

    I agree. Evans is not even that great of a defender. He’s better as a midfielder…

  8. rafibomb10 - Nov 12, 2013 at 8:29 AM

    I’ve been clamouring the past two years that the best right back in the US player pool was Eric Lichaj. Speed and skill down the flanks and a workmanlike attitude in defending. He is no Phillip Lahm, or Dani Alves, but his natural position is right back, which he plays every weekend and everyday in training. That cannot be said for Evans or Parkhurst, who play defense and midfield players respectively.

    I like the Lichaj call up. Hopefully it works out!

    • bear06 - Nov 12, 2013 at 3:16 PM

      The best right back in the U.S. player pool is easily Timothy Chandler when he’s on top form.

  9. midtec2005 - Nov 12, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    If I had to guess I’d say Klinnsman liked Evans at RB because he offers above average technical ability for a RB… because he’s a midfielder. I think he does pretty well when he gets forward, it’s just a matter of getting the defending done properly. If Lichaj doesn’t work out there are quite a few American RBs that play regularly in MLS, maybe giving some of them a look isn’t a bad idea. I’m sure he’s looked into it though.

  10. midtec2005 - Nov 12, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    Oh, and good on Klinnsman for leaving out Chandler. He obviously doesn’t have any passion for the U.S.

  11. bear06 - Nov 12, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    Timothy Chandler is not done with the U.S. MNT Steve. If he keeps playing like he has in the last couple of weeks, then JK would have no choice but to call him up in March or in May because when he’s on top form he’s easily the best RB in the U.S. player pool.

  12. kingarthur900 - Nov 12, 2013 at 7:44 PM

    DeAndre Yedlin!!!!!!

    • midtec2005 - Nov 12, 2013 at 8:34 PM

      He seems to almost certainly be the future.

    • wfjackson3 - Nov 13, 2013 at 1:46 PM

      Nowhere near ready. Chance Meyers is a better choice right now, and he spent half of the season hurt.

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