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Is Chandler the answer at left back for USMNT?

Timmy Chandler (

When the USMNT lineup that would face Belgium came out last Tuesday the sight of Steve Cherundolo and Timmy Chandler in the squad led to the immediate realization that Jurgen Klinsmann was getting serious about his search for a reliable left back.

Chandler responded to the positional switch with a surprisingly steady defensive performance. Facing Belgium's dangerous attack, including star winger Eden Hazard, Chandler stood up to the challenge, using his outstanding athleticism to neutralize one of the best young players in Europe.

Sure, Chandler's national team debut at left back wasn't perfect. He tried but generally failed to provide left-footed service from the flank, and was never really used much on his attacking forays forward (something that was as much Brek Shea's fault as his own), but considering the awful performances at left back in recent memory, Chandler's form was, without question, very promising.

Now it's pretty clear that Chandler is the leading candidate to replace Steve Cherundolo at right back one day, but with Cherundolo still playing at a high level and not showing signs of slowing down, moving Chandler to left back just might the best move to make to get the strongest USMNT lineup on the field.

We saw what Edgar Castillo could do, and it wasn't that encouraging. Eric Lichaj looked good at left back in the Gold Cup, but is sidelined with an injury and still has a limited number of games at the position against top competition. Even German-born Fabian Johnson, currently playing as a midfielder on the club level, has experience at left back. There are some other options to look at for left back, but Chandler has shown that he just might be able to handle the switch.

Chandler's showing against Belgium has me wondering what SBI readers thought of how he did. Do you think Chandler is the answer at left back? What did you think of his performance? Still holding out hope that Eric Lichaj returns from injury in time to win the position next year? Ready to give Edgar Castillo another look?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. depends on how Lichay recovers from his injury because he’s good too, but agree with this basically. With Dolo still cooking, get Chandler the experience at LB, then when Dolo does not play for whatever reason, use Chandler at RB. If a player displays a versatility, like Chandler did at LB, use it I say to develop the player and the team depth, and try him again there. the right flank is another spot

    That said, Chandler looks like a nice solution at RB for when Dolo does finally stop

  2. The Sept 8 notation is interesting (the visit to Everton), and the fact the Everton goalkeeper coach was in Belgium. My nose for news tells me that this whole thing points to trying to sell Everton on a young up-and-coming Bill Hamid, as Howard is not going to last forever and a replacement will be needed at some point. Plus, apparently Tim and Hamid get on quite well. It would be great to see another US goalkeeper in the Premiere League.

  3. depending on who he matches up with, put him on either side (LB or RB)…he’s more comfortable on the right, but developing on the left would be a huge plus to his game….work on those crosses!!!

  4. Quick add to my thought above. Can you imagine how offensively explosive that Gold Cup final line-up might be with the additions of Shea, Chandler and Torres (remember, Dolo was injured early).



    ——Torres (or Adu)—————

    —————Adu (or Holden or Chandler or ??)–

    ———-MB(or Jones, Beckerman, Edu or ??)—–


  5. I should have known, GW, you would come up something good historically (and I mean that as a compliment). I am glad you did because I think the Gold Cup final proves my point, shows how potentially explosive the USMNT could be without Jozy/Agudelo but instead a starting line-up full of strong US midfielders.

    Remember, in that match we scored in the 8th and 23rd minutes, for a 2-0 lead. The USMNT has not scored more than two goals in the last 20 games, and against a strong team like Mexico did it in the first 23 minutes in a system with Dempsey and Donovan as strikers and no Jozy or Agudelo on the field.

    Granted, we ended up getting beat 4-2, but that was because of poor coaching decisions. If BB would not have subbed in Bornstein, and if he would have put in Edu as a DM to shore up the defense, the USMNT might have won that final. Take a close look at the game recap. As I say, I think it supports my argument. I am tired of seeing Jozy and Agudelo struggle when we could have star players Dempsey and Donavon doing a better job and one more of our good midfielders on the field instead.

    Gold Cup Final: US vs Mexico

  6. I am anxious for Eric Lichaj to get back, I think he is better than Chandler but Chandler was certainly better than Edgar Castillo. I don’t know anything about Fabian Johnson but would love to see what he can do too. I’m a little sad Castillo didn’t work out as I think we need to show the Latino population we are anxious to have them play on the US national team.

  7. Chandler is wasted at LB. The guy is an absolute future stud at RB. Lichaj, Lloyd, and the 2 new germans should fight it out for the LB position

  8. As I just said, Frankie is my all time favorite but, in terms of skill, savvy, positioning and just a general instinct for how to play the right way, Chandler is already twice the player Frankie was.

    If Frankie had Chandler’s skill and ability he might actually have been able to drag that sad sack 1998 World Cup team to respectability all by his lonesome.

  9. Frankie is my favorite all time USMNT player, ahead of Clint Mathis.

    But what you said says a lot more about everyone else than it does about Heydude who always left it all out there.

  10. biff,

    Gold Cup 2011 final


    USA: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo (12-Jonathan Bornstein, 11), 21-Clarence Goodson, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 14-Eric Lichaj; 4-Michael Bradley, 13-Jermaine Jones; 22-Alejandro Bedoya (9-Juan Agudelo, 63), 20-Freddy Adu (16-Sacha Kljestan, 86), 8-Clint Dempsey; 10-Landon Donovan

    Subs not used: 2-Jonathan Spector, 7-Maurice Edu, 15-Tim Ream, 23-Marcus Hahnemann

    Head Coach: Bob Bradley

    See any true strikers in that starting lineup? It was practically a Roma 4-6-0.

  11. The best defender, by some distance, on the USMNT is Dolo.

    The next two best are Boca and Chandler.

    Lichaj, has done well. But in terms of savvy, instincts, positioning and fundamentals he is not as good as those three.

    If those three are in the game and you must have Lichaj in put him at right wing. If for some reason, you want more dynamism in attack switch him and Chandler. You won’t lose that much. It’s a nice problem to have.

    But make no mistake, Chandler is a fundamentally more sound and more instinctive soccer player than Lichaj. And people are writing off Dolo way too soon.

    Barring injury or a dramatic loss of form (or desire) I see no reason why he can’t be the right back in 2014. If anything, JK coming on should revitalize him.

  12. The answer, my friends, is Brek Shea in a 4-3-3

    Dempsey Altidore Donovan

    Torres Holden Edu

    Shea Boca Goodson Chandler

    When we go 4-4-2, Lichaj slides in at left back, Dempsey goes to middle for Altidore, Shea moves up to attack.

  13. JJJ I actually thought that Klismann was going to use Chandler a Left midfield and put Torres in the middle and Have Dempsey play attacking Midfield on the left or Right.

  14. well I like this cause the both can switch from left to right. Remember that Lichaj also play the RB an Bob Bradley switch him to LB. We also have Fabian Johnson, can play midfield and LB. and there other in the U20 that are good as well.

  15. I’m going to make this a simple. Chandler is OUR BEST OPTION AT LB, Period. No one else has his pace in our pool. So as long as Lichaj is out and is unable to prove himself, EL SENOR CHANDLERSTEIN IS OUR ANSWER. This whole Fabianinho shananigans has to stop. The kid hadn’t seen a minute on our team and all of a sudden he is our answer at LB.

    If we were to be playing a meaningful game next week, I would be confident having ChandlerSTEIN as our LB… Dunivant or Lloyd an option?lol oook.

    Please my dudes, don’t put Rogers as an option at LB. Rogers shouldn’t even be an option as the water boy!

  16. I think that we should come to the realization that the American player is a midfielder who then gets put into other positions out of necessity. Our forward pool is pathetic, and our backs are borderline or old. I think what Der Klinnsman is doing is trying to instill confidence in some of these ‘midfielders’ to attack eg. Shea. It would not surprise me that he realizes that Torres plays best when bringing the ball out of the back. I predict the Boca and Dolo will be bench warmers in Brazil, and the formation will be a 2-3-2-3, with the three forwards who will really only be one center forward, and two attacking midfielders.

    My prediction for WC qualifiers…..







  17. Daniel Williams plays left back so we need to convince him to switch to the usmnt. KEEP CHANDLER AT RB! By the next World Cup Cherundolo will be 35, yes he’s a great player but its time to move on same thing goes with Bocanegra we need younger players like Chandler, Lichaj, Johnson, and Williams (Hopefully soon we’ll get him)

  18. Ream is paying dues… Would I like to see him develope into our #1 CB ? Hell yes, however, he lacks seasoning at the club level. I am more concerned with the identification of more CB as opposed to Ream and Goodson.

  19. That is true if Klinsmann is playing either Jozy or Agudelo as a lone striker. I would like to see a starting line-up with Jozy and Agudelo on the bench, and with Dempsey starting as the lone striker flanked by Shea on the left and Donovan on the right, and with Torres as the CM playmaker. That leaves two more midfield slots, one of which would be the holding midfield job for Edu or Beckerman or MB or Jones or ????. The other slot could be manned by Holden or Adu or Chandler or ??? We are going to have a deep deep bench of good midfielders. Why leave one of those valuable midfielders on the bench to be starting a struggling Jozy or Agudelo?

  20. Chandler was solid however, he was wasted at LB. He needs to play RB or RMF where we can take advantage of his crossing ability. There is no one in the pool that can get a cross in from the right at the rate of speed in which Timmy does it in.

    Greg Garza is the equivelant to chandler however, on the left…he doesnt get any love at the moment because he doesnt have a club. As funny as that sounds, the kid just may be our natural LB in the next 3-5 yrs. I saw him play for the U-20s…saw him play on a loan stint agains Liverpool. All things in perspective, it was preseason however, he looked very solid with respect to man-marking, 1v1 and is decent in the air. One thing that really sets him apart from other candidates is that this kid is really quick and demonstrates winger-like qualities with a brazilian flair. He was previously LB in partugal for the reserve side that won their respective league 2 yrs running. With regards to his weaknesses, he gets caught on counters too many times. Having said that, maturity will come with consistant minutes and that of course is contingent on him finding a team to play on. Also, if memory serves me correct, he is owned by Traffic…which probably tells you why he cant find a team.

  21. You also have Danny Williams who plays in the back more than Fabian Johnson does. Williams has played LB in the past when he was in good terms with Freiburg, now that he is with Hoffenheim it will be interesting to see if Williams and Johnson line up on the same side.

  22. +1 My only disagreement with your comment are the last two words: “coming years.” I would say in “coming months” FC Bayern and other other big-name European teams are going to start preparing transfer fee offers of low double-digit millions of euros. I will not be surprised to see Chandler leave Nuremberg in January, and no way will he still be playing in Nuremberg in August 2012.

    If anyone wants a good laugh, take a look at this video:

    Worst Penalty EVER!! Amir Sayoud (Al Ahly) vs Kima Aswan September 7th, 2011

  23. We’re much better off with Chandler at LB until Lichaj is healthy and Johnson is eligible than Dunivant. He’s not he answer going forward so let’s not take Timmy’s playing time away.

    Omar is a beast in the air, but he struggles passing out of the back. Not exactly what Klinsmann is looking for. I am a Gonzo fan though.

  24. true, but he was basing his boca comment on existing evidence of carlos at LB…we hadn’t seen chandler at LB, and now we have

    on another note, it’s too bad that when we hired klinsi we didn’t insist that he bring his magic wand

  25. Right now of the backs who played in the last 3 games, only Chandler looks like a lock to be starting in 2014. Dolo and Boca are getting old, Goodson is not really young anymore either. Orozco and Castillo do not look that promising even if you give them the benefit of modest improvement in the future.

    Ream, is young and is still learning, but he may never have the right defensive mentality even though he can at least play the ball forward to a teammate.

    Lichaj looks to be in the mix.

    I think, yes you are right, the search for CBs is on.

  26. I agree- As of now we have 2 people who can put the ball in the net,Dempsey/Donovan and 8-10 names contantly being considered for 4/5 Middie spots(depending on the formation).. With Bradley, Shea, Torres, Bedoya, Adu, Edu, Jones, Feilhaber & a HEALTHY Holden (even add Fabian, Mixx, Sasha etc).. you have a lot of options-but you lose NOTHING from the MF spots by pairing those 2 up front. And so far I like some things but dont forget MB

  27. I’m torn about Chandler vs Lichaj but everyone’s feeling good that the US now has good options to play on left. Now the next thing that needs to be addressed is center back because Bocanegra is losing a step. I hope to see George John get a serious look.

  28. Iam really surprised how quickly everyone has written off Michael Bradley- I like what JK is doing with the direction of better soccer, lord knows the change is needed.. but if nobody has noticed the lack of linkage and buildup without MB in the lineup in these 3 losses.. At some point JK will get his back 4 straight ( I think with Dolo & Chandler on the pitch at the same time).. at which point he’s gotta put his best 6 players at MF/F on at the same time- which means Donovan & Dempsey up top.. and MB still has a lot to offer to be one of those 4 guys


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