U.S. Men's National Team

Chandler's comfort level rises after another strong performance at left back


Photo by Howard C. Smith/ISIphotos.com


HARRISON, N.J. — The more U.S. national team defender Timmy Chandler plays at left back, the more it looks like the long search for a dependable option at the position has come to an end.

Never mind the fact that Chandler's performance at the position against Ecuador Tuesday night was just his third with the national team after primarily playing on the right side for both club and country.

Building off a strong showing against Honduras on Saturday, the 21-year-old Chandler neutralized Ecuador's main attacking threat, Antonio Valencia, as part of his 90-minute showing in a 1-0 U.S. loss at Red Bull Arena, earning indivdual accolades from U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann.  

"He didn't allow Valencia not even one thing, and you're talking about a player that plays for Man. United and is a very, very good player," Klinsmann said. "But you couldn't see him at all, because Timmy Chandler closed him completely down."

Chandler's comfort level on the left appears to be increasing, as does his long-term grip on the position, which has arguably been the biggest spot of uncertainty for the national team program over the last few years. 

"To play against (Valencia), he didn't have so many chances or do anything. The whole team from Ecuador didn't do much in the first half," Chandler said. "It's two games now we play good, and I'm getting comfortable."

Chandler's trademark attacking qualities are emerging from his station on the left as he continues to get a feel for his bearings. His forays forward on the right were what made him such an intriguing prospect when he first started playing for the United States, and he is starting to get more and more forward as he banks minutes at his new position.

"I'm very happy with how he presents himself on the left side," Klinsman said. "His job was taking out Valencia. He did that job, and then he went into the attack. He did two jobs, actually. It seems like he's just enjoying himself. He's a very curious player that wants to know 'How can I improve? What do I have to do?'

"Obviously he can play both sides. We can shift him over to the right side and he'll be exactly the same." 

Even though it's clear that he's more comfortable crossing with his favored right foot, Chandler is making strides in transitioning to his left foot. There was a point early in the loss to Ecuador during which Chandler delivered a teasing left-footed cross to the center of the box that nearly led to a U.S. chance. 

His ability to maintain a high work rate throughout also showed, as evidenced by his 74th-minute strip-and-run down the left flank that eventually ended in him drawing a foul and leading to a U.S. free kick in dangerous territory with the game still scoreless.

"I think he did very well getting forward," U.S. centerback Carlos Bocanegra said. "He took some good positions defensively tonight, especially on the some of the long balls covering inside. He's got good energy. He's got a good tank in him."

Chandler's emergence on the left has been helped by his partnership with Brek Shea on that side. The two have developed a strong chemistry and have a sense of timing each other's runs and covering for each other despite playing very few matches together.

"He has what I like in a left back, and I have what he likes in the guys that play in front of him," said Shea, who roomed with Chandler during the September U.S. camp. "We're good friends off the field, so it definitely translates onto the field. We're kind of similar people. We like to have fun and we joke a lot. The off-the-field stuff has helped our relationship grow."

Klinsmann has taken notice of that relationship as well, and his praise for both players along with pronouncing that Shea has "secured his spot in the starting lineup" should lead to a consistent pairing of the two in future matches.

"They start to develop an instinct for each other," Klinsmann said. "Timmy's doing a good job reading (Shea). These types of partnerships … those take time." 

Like Chandler's transition to left back, though, perhaps it doesn't take that much time after all.   

  • go usa

    “I think Bradley played very well last night. I don’t recall a single errant pass.”


    It’s a good thing too, an errant pass from Bradley would cause an own goal…

    ba dah (cymbal crashhhh)


  • SwerveZ

    I actually see these two as totally different players on the field. The competition comes from what do you want more? Good passing out of the back or not? Beckerman can’t pass out of the back to save his life. Bradley also has the ability to take over the midfield and I haven’t seen Beckerrman do that yet. I’m not giving up on the dude and maybe he’s just had some bad games, but I counted over and over again when he turned the ball over right after getting it. That can’t happen at this level. With that, what’s up with Jones??? I respect everyone’s opinion though. We all see things we like and don’t like.


  • Ken

    I say keep Chandler in the LB. When we get LD back, let him play Right Mid and he’ll help Dolo on D against opponent with fast winger. Dolo might be too old by 2014 but he certainly can help in the qualifications.


  • Dennis

    I do not think it is unfair. He has consistently gone out of his way to disparage MB and is the first to do so in the comments on articles that had little or nothing to say with regards to MB.

    In that sense 2nd City is clearly all about getting in digs about MB not about paying any attention to what is actually going on.

    I have no problem with those who are willing to provide something to the discussion, but he has routinely managed to get the facts wrong to support what I believe is his incorrect opinion. Examples: “MB made poor passes in the Honduras gam”e when in fact he connected on 100%, that “he only passed back or laterallly” , another clear falsehood, that he “lost possession repeatedly” again a falsehood.


  • Dennis

    I like Beckerman, he plays with the kind of grit that I like to see in defensive mids. However, I am not sure he has the athleticism to excel against international competition. That was one of the reasons Honduras was able to play so many un-pressured passes behind the US back line. (Edu does share some of the blame for that, and the back line could have been better prepared when they saw there was no pressure.)
    I think Bradley has more upside, he is a better passer (he did take every free kick for the US when he came on against Ecuador), he is stronger and harder to knock off the ball and as tactically aware as Beckerman.


  • rana

    From what we have seen this fall, our defense is actually looking pretty good. Part of the story is probably Beckerman’s play, even if he sucks when trying to distribute.
    My guess is taht the four back guys are:

    Chandler, Gooch and Bocanegra, Dolo

    with Lichaj and Specter in reserve on the wings and Orozco and Goodson in reserve in the middle. Ream gives up a goal a game, at least, and Castillo is to often out of position. For the defensive mid position it seems like Beckerman and Edu in reserve. Bradley makes too many mistakes back there, which more than offsets his better offensive skills.

    Our offense is putrid.


  • Jackal

    My problem with beckerman is he doesn’t pass well and just doesn’t have the speed to cover for our already slow CB.


  • Excellency

    Actually, what I saw of him playing on the right was somebody who wasn’t really faster than, say, Cherundolo, and did not scream past the opposition but, instead, used his ambidexterous feet to stop, turn, and cross with his left instead of his right. He doesn’t really cross from range any better than Cherundolo.

    But, sure, if a great left back comes along we can shift him to right. Right now we still have Cherundolo at right and nobody at left so it makes sense to play Chandler at left back. Chandler is the single best thing Klinsmann has done todate to take us a step forward.


  • Jackal

    Just because they didn’t score doesn’t mean the offense was bad, they held possession, pass well and created a lot of opportunity. The problem is no one seems to want to slip a pass through the middle everything was done from the wings. Neither Edu or beckerman really got up into the attacking third fast enough when we are on the break and neither guys were really adept at passing forward as you can see from the game.


  • Tim

    I think that in the future, with everyone healthy *knocks on wood*, that for me, the preferred wing backs would be Chandler on the left, Lichaj on the right.

    I think Lichaj is better suited to be playing the right side, and Chandler has that ability to cut in on his right foot, as he showed last night early. I also like the chemistry forming between Shea and Chandler, and for me, Shea is a lot stronger on the left than on the right.


  • Jack

    Amazing Klinsman has managed to find a fairly decent solution to the US left back problem after being in charge for just a few months. I thought Bradley was ok but Jurgen is a Godsend for American soccer. The way he handles the camps and the roster i.e. bringing in the best options available everytime so the players can develop a good chemistry, the change in philosophy of controlling the ball and moving forward and hustling back when the ball is turned over versus kick the ball deep from the back and hope somebody comes down with it, and the changes with youth development (the new development manual found here: http://www.ussoccer.com/Coaches/Coaching-Education/Coaching-Home.aspx is very good).


  • TimN

    I’m glad to see that Klinsmann is bringing in lots of different looks at multiple positions…this team is a work in progress that’s only going to get better, although the W-L results don’t show it right now. I’m convinced that by next summer, the MNT will be pretty carefully “dialed in” to the best available talent at each position that also works cohesively. The main trouble spot for us at the moment is finishing. I think ultimately the starting line-up that we will see is Dempsey up top, with Donovan, Jones, Bradley, Torres/Kljestan, and Holden if healthy in the midfield, and Oneywu, Chandler, Lichaj, and Goodson in the back. Howard is a lock at keeper.


  • dan

    is everyone ignoring the fact that when donovan is played as our creative attacking central mid with freedom to roam he is absolutely insane? i say donovan and altidore with dempsey on the right


  • biff

    I am not 100% sure, maybe someone else knows , but I don’t think BB ever used a lone holding mid position, the one Beckerman is now playing. Didn’t BB always use two DMs? Playing as a single DM is a highly difficult role and a key to the overall defense in an attacking system. I agree, Beckerman did not always look pretty against Honduras and Ecuador. But with Beckerman in that key role for a total of 180 minutes against one decent team and against one very good team from Ecuador, the USMNT gave up only one goal. USMNT defense in the first half against Ecuador was overpowering, and Beckerman certainly played an important part in that.

    As for passing, please don’t forgot Beckerman’s performances against Mexico and Belgium. His passing was excellent against Mexico and solid against Belgium. But I agree, passing did not look as good against Honduras and Ecuador. Not sure why that would be, but hope he bounces back in that department in the Europe friendlies in November.

    As for speed, is MB really truly than Beckerman?


  • mangut

    This is yet another example of how dillusional and distorted the coverage of the newly minted Americans is. How can you have a left back who cannot dribble with his left foot? He was sprinting down the line dribbling with his right foot? He ran into the corner without ever looking up. He displayed very little creativity. I imagine his athleticism and youth helped him negate Valencia but Valencia is much overrated to begin with. This kid is not that good but he is being blown up for absolutely the wrong reasons.


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