Americans Abroad

Lichaj seeing his stock rise


Two days ago, Eric Lichaj faced the stiff test of matching up against Tottenham star Gareth Bale in one of his first Premier League starts for Aston Villa. Instead of crumbling, Lichaj stood firm and played well, adding momentum to a career on the way up.

Having just turned 22 last month, Lichaj has put his time in with Aston Villa since joining the club as an 18-year old from the University of North Carolina. He is hitting his stride now, having made his U.S. national team and English Premier League debuts in the past three months.

Here is my Fox Soccer feature on Lichaj, who returns to action this morning as Aston Villa takes on Manchester City (10am, Fox Soccer Channel) in another tough battle for the Birmingham club.

Give my story a read and tell us what you think of Lichaj and his chances for success in the Premier League and for the U.S. national team.

Share your thoughts below.

  • Second City

    Safely assuming Dolo isn’t able to make it 14′ Brazil, does it really matter?

    I’d rather be rock solid at RB with Bornstein at LB than Lichaj playing out of position and Spector playing RB.

    In otherwords, I’d rather produce and develop our next Dolo than rely on Spector.


  • maka

    when is his contract up?

    (SBI-He just signed a new deal in the summer. I’d bet at least three years.)


  • kimo

    I know he’s still young and has a lot to prove as a professional (as compared to Dolo who has been nothing but a class professional for what seems like a decade) but Lichaj has the athleticism and skill set to surpass Dolo in short order. It will come down to staying healthy and gaining experience. If he progresses without injury, Lichaj should be our RB in Brazil.

    There are some players that you can see play once and you know that they belong. Lichaj is such a player.


  • Morning Train

    you put the jinx on him Ives!!!!!!!!

    (SBI-Don’t blame me, blame Carlos Cuellar for leaving Lichaj out to dry on both Balotelli sequences.)


  • kevin

    Poor Eric. But he’ll recover. Happens to everyone sometimes. But he will solidify RB as his.

    Friedel might have just played his last PL match for AV. I can see Guzan starting the next match.


  • kimo

    Nope. If healthy, Dolo should be in the mix for a variety of reasons. However, IF Lichaj continues to progress, he should be our RB given his athleticism and skill set. The key words being IF and progress.


  • Jack

    This certainly isn’t his best game (however, you could certainly say that for the entire Villa defense–it’s definitely not just him), but he’s still a young player–this is his third full EPL game. If his performance is a little inconsistent, well, I can’t really say I’m surprised. Consistency usually comes with experience (although as I’m writing this, he just did a great bit of defending–he’s definitely had some bright spots in this game).

    Agreed that he should be RB in Brazil. That gives him time to develop and get comfortable in the position. With Spector playing CM at WH, I don’t see him as a real contender for RB with the NT. Cherundolo is probably going to stick around for the next one or two years (provided he’s healthy, which is not a given), but I hope that Bradley lets Lichaj develop at RB instead of sticking him all around the back line to try to fill in our (many) gaps.


  • Sven

    Once again, a little too quick to anoint a player. Lichaj will most likely not see the field again for a while after today’s game.

    (SBI-Who “annointed” him? He’s a good young player who didn’t have a good game today, but Villa was awful as a team today. He’ll keep playing until Luke Young returns.)


  • rob

    Wasn’t Giovanni van Bronckhorst 35 this past summer when he captained the Dutch from left back?

    Now, Gio at one points played for Barcelona, but there’s no reason to believe that Cherundolo can’t also maintain a high level of play in four years time… By no means certain, but surely a distinct possibility.


  • elpool009

    its expected of a young player to have his up and downs, but keeping Gareth Bale in check was a remarkable feat for the kid. today may have been a let down, but lets keep in mind who he plays for…villa is a mess all over the pitch. Lichaj is going to be a stud.


  • Morning Train

    ah, just a little ribbing. i have to think Villa (cuellar) made a mistake isolating Lichaj and Balotelli in certain sequences of the game. City was willing, took advantage and made the most of their opportunities.

    That is a tough 1 v. 1 for almost any RB in the prem.


  • alf

    Yeah, given that our entire back line is a bit of a rebuilding project this cycle and we aren’t exactly producing great outside back prospects on either side in MLS at the moment, Lichaj coming along as well as he has is certainly a great development for him and US. Hope he can continue growing on a good trajectory. Any single game doesn’t make him or break him.


  • jloome

    Fairly stinging indictment of staying in NCAA: If you can go over as an 18 year old out of high school, you might be in the prem at 22.

    Combine that with the growth of the academies and NCAA will be pretty secondary in a decade or so.

    (SBI-Actually, Lichaj spent a year playing at North Carolina so it isn’t as if colleges had no role in his development. Also, Lichaj had something not all young players have, he had a European passport, the missing piece that makes England a fantasy rather than reality for most young American players. And seriously, because one player succeeds in pulling off the path Lichaj took hardly means it’s easy or something American prospects can count on instead of going through college.

    American colleges are producing more pro-ready talent than ever before, so the whole idea that the college game’s role in player development is fading is overstated. MLS academies have miles to go before they’re doing what they need to do in order to make colleges truly an afterthought. We’re still some time away from that.)


  • GW

    “There are some players that you can see play once and you know that they belong. Lichaj is such a player.”

    I remember feeling that way about Benny Feilhaber and a few other US players the first time I saw them play for the US.

    US fans are alwsys so obsessed with the “next greta thing”. The kid has 3 EPL appearances and already he’s our right back for 2014. He could break a leg tomorrow and never play another game. Yet, you are so ready to discard Steve Cherundolo who has had a career Lichaj would be lucky to approach. He’ll be 35 in 2014, maybe he’ll be retired or maybe he’ll be in top shape; you just don’t know.

    I do know one thing, Lichaj, while promising, hasn’t proven anything yet.


  • Second City

    Is clamoring for the “next big thing” exclusive to US fans?

    That’s news to me as it wouldn’t take 5 minutes to find blogs, media reports and general discussion in most countries regarding the worlds game.

    As far as I’m concerned, that’s the beauty of such “forums” in sports & debates regarding speculation of potential in prospects.

    Maybe I’m old school but it’s really no different than sitting around in a Barber Shop and talking about the latest rookie on a given NFL team or a player in an MLB farm system that shows great potential.

    By all means, play the contraian card. Despite it being extremely boring and equally obvious…that’s your choice.

    I don’t think people in this thread are naive to believe anything is set in stone. I do however see the relevance in discussing the possibility of said scenerio, though.

    Dolo: could be fit/healthy/able to play in ’14.

    Lichaj: could become a bust and break a leg, never seeing his potential.

    Groundbreaking insight, guy. Let’s just end the discussion all together and say: USA probably won’t qualify for Brazil ’14.

    of speculation.)

    Either way, you don’t have a clue what will play out no more than people gushing with optomism, so live and let live?


  • GW

    “Either way, you don’t have a clue what will play out no more than people gushing with optomism, so live and let live?”

    Sure SC, though if you really believed that you would not have bothered to answer my post.


  • A2

    He played terrible against City, but he’s young and a rough game like this might benefit him for the long term. His first step is to solidify his spot at RB for Aston Villa. Hopefully his display against Bale will be what Houllier keps in his mind regarding his team selections.


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