photo by ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
It has been over a year since Timmy Chandler last played for the U.S. Men’s National Team, but head coach Jurgen Klinsmann insinuated Monday that Chandler has as good a chance as any fullback to make it to Brazil this summer.
Speaking to reporters on a conference call in which he touched on a wide variety of topics, Klinsmann addressed Chandler’s return into the U.S. fold on Monday afternoon by saying that the 24-year-old right back made his way onto the 30-man preliminary World Cup roster by putting together a strong season at Nurnberg.
Chandler – who is freshly recovered from a knee injury suffered this past February – has not been with his American teammates since a 2-1 World Cup qualifying loss in Honduras in February 2013. He missed most of the qualifying campaign, a bevy of friendlies and also did not partake in last summer’s championship run at the Gold Cup.
Still, Klinsmann kept close tabs on Chandler even while the versatile defender was away from the U.S. team and his performances at the club level led to a somewhat surprising call-up that could pave the way for a World Cup berth.
“Timmy has done extremely well throughout most part of the season,” said Klinsmann. “I was always in touch with him. But he knew he kind of had to do a lot more work to come back into our picture because of the situation that happened in Honduras and how I looked at the team developing and it did extremely well last summer with World Cup qualifying and the Gold Cup (without him).
“He had to be very patient, but then he kind of got the message and he worked harder and he played at a very, very high level throughout the season until the knee surgery came. But I kind of encouraged him always to keep going and he’s fully fit again.”
Klinsmann is confident that a fully fit and in-form Chandler can help the Americans’ cause in Brazil, where the U.S. will take on Ghana, Portugal and Germany in a tough Group G.
The skill of that opposition, which includes superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and the skillful Thomas Muller, makes having a strong right back a priority for a U.S. team looking to surprise and advance from the group. Klinsmann has the likes of Brad Evans and Michael Parkhurst at his disposal, but the addition of Chandler gives the U.S. head coach another option that is capable of providing some steady defending and the ability to jump into the attack consistently.
Chandler, however, must first prove his worth in camp in order to keep dreams of Brazil alive.
“I had him scouted many, many times, also in training, and I think he’s a player that can make a difference if he’s on his highest level,” said Klinsmann. “He has the experience to play against very, very good and strong players throughout Europe and that’s why he earned his way back into the group.”