By FRANCO PANIZO
Eric Lichaj’s future is clear: He will remain at Nottingham Forest.
Nottingham Forest announced on Tuesday that it has signed Lichaj to a two-and-a-half year extension that will keep him at the club through the 2016-17 season. The move comes just days after Lichaj made his 50th appearance across all competitions for the Championship outfit.
The 26-year-old fullback had initially signed a two-year contract with the the Reds back in 2013 and was set to become a free agent this summer, but they ensured that he pledged his long-term future to them before the turn of the new year.
Lichaj has been a regular during his time at Nottingham Forest. He started 21 of the 24 league games he played in last season, and has gotten the nod in 17 of the 22 Championship matches he has appeared in thus far this campaign.
While Lichaj has been a steady contributor for club, he has not seen much time at the international level. Lichaj has made just two appearances for the U.S. Men’s National Team since Jurgen Klinsmann was appointed head coach in July 2011.
What do you think of Lichaj staying put at Nottingham? Would you have preferred to see him test the free agent waters this summer? Should Klinsmann be giving him more looks?
Share your thoughts below.
really hope JK gives him a look. he deserves it.
Based on the picture I thought this was an article about Zlatan.
Tough to see a guy who committed to the US from the beginning get this seemingly unwarranted lack of attention.
LB has been a nightmare position for Poland, so he probably would have seen quite a lot of time if he had chosen his parents’ country. And, since Piszczek has been injured so often, he likely could have seen time at RB too.
He did everything right in committing to the US right away, and now he’s blackballed, likely for personal reasons. Hope this changes and he gets a real shot.
“and now he’s blackballed, likely for personal reasons. Hope this changes and he gets a real shot.”
What makes you say that?
If he can’t make a US call up what makes you think he’s good enough to make Poland’s team, who look to me to be pretty tough?
Poland called in 2010 when Eric was at Villa, just to gauge his interest. That is not exactly the same as offering him a spot on the team.
When managers like JK dislike a guy enough to exclude them it is usually because they don’t think they can help his team win.
Check out his history. JK has had teamates who were human stains. But JK loves to win so much he’d cap you and slow left arm if he thought you guys could help him win.
I’m not naïve enough to think I will change your mind regarding Lichaj’s worth as a player, but I disagree with a couple factual points.
Firstly, a regular starter in the Championship absolutely would have gotten a chance for Poland at LB. Bayer’s Sebastian Boenisch has been woeful for the national team. This culminated in a qualifying match in which San Marino’s attackers ran roughshod over him. He hasn’t played for Poland since. Jakub Wawrzyniak has been the usual starter at LB simply because there is no one else. He has consistently proved to be over his head at the international level. A couple CB’s also have been deployed at LB, and you can guess how that went. Currently the Polish federation is doing its best to get Hamburg’s Matthias Ostrzołek to declare for Poland, but he seems intent to keep his Germany option open.
Secondly, I disagree that Lichaj isn’t good enough to “make a US call up,” as you suggest. Given the carousel of underwhelming fullback options we’ve seen during JK’s tenure, it is hard to understand why, just from a talent perspective, Lichaj has only received garbage time vs. Austria and Scotland. Ives and many others on this site are perplexed about this. Clearly you don’t rate him as a player, and that’s fine. But a lot of nats fans can’t understand why he hasn’t gotten a meaningful shot and believe he deserves one.
“But a lot of nats fans can’t understand why he hasn’t gotten a meaningful shot and believe he deserves one.”
The reality is JK may have some excellent reasons for excluding Eric but you and I will never know them.
What possible incentive does JK ( or any manager) have to really explain why he doesn’t rate a player? There is no upside for him to do that. Especially with a player like Lichaj, who still could come back and play for JK.
In this case I have zero problem with it because I find Eric to be just okay.
Is he good enough to play for the US? Sure but that doesn’t mean he should play over others who JK sees as just as good or better.. Eric is a solid defender but when he was with Villa, the offensive part of his game was like a box of chocolates. Which is the exact opposite of what JK looks for in a full back.
Can’t blame him for signing with the same club. Transfers haven’t exactly worked out for most of the NT players in 2014 so staying in a stable situation makes sense. Is Cherundolo the last American field player to successfully hold down a long-term spot on a big European League club? Dempsey had a nice Fulham stint.
Lichaj is better than Chandler.
GIven Chandler’s mixed performances, Lichaj certainly deserves more looks.
I dunno about better… really isnt enough information to comment.
Lichaj is not better than Chandler at the moment, probably never will be! If you haven’t been paying attention to what TC has been doing as of laye at club level you should because hes been doing it at an all league level. I’d love to see EL get another crack but guys have got to start making their appearances count when they get them and he’s been just okay in a US shirt as of late
no, he’s not. Chandler isn’t in the Bundesliga by mistake. and i like Lichaj, but don’t be silly.
It’s hard to see JK giving EL many more opportunities giving the number of fullbacks coming through the pipeline. Now, this is not to say that he doesn’t deserve call ups because I personally think he does and is one of the better fullbacks we have, but we also know that once JK has his mind made up about a player or dislikes a player (i.e. Donovan) then there’s a good chance that player is on the outs! Good for him on reing up his contract with Nottingham Forest though, good bit of business!
Yeah, considering how many times complete stiffs like Castillo and Chandler have been given chances, it’s surprising that JK has ignored Lichaj, other than one callup. You’re right though, once JK makes up his mind about a guy, he’ll do whatever is necessary to get rid of him, even if it hurts the team. We saw that with LD, now he’s penalizing Bradley for his decision to accept a 6x higher salary to return to MLS. So now, JK will publicly insist that MB should be playing in an attacking role that doesn’t suit him, then he’ll say that his form has dropped because he returned to MLS or whatever and soon MB will be dropped. Luckily, we only have three and a half more years of this nonsense. Hopefully, the next coach will be a bit less rigid and open minded.
I meant “more” open minded. Edit button would be helpful!
While I do agree with you that Lichaj should get a better/more looks, I think that you are projecting your biases here. JK clearly thinks very highly of Bradley and actually played him further upfield before he made his move. He thinks that he could play at a high level than he is (which I agree with). However, I could never begrudge him for taking 2.5-3x’s his salary (his Italy salary was post-tax – he was on about Eur 1.3mill/year post tax).
Worth considering that after all of his experience and the failure to launch so to speak, Lichaj may not even care about NT implications and simply be extending a positive club situation for his purposes.
That being said, there have been some mixed bag performances by about every wingback including Garza, and Castillo is generally poor. Beasley just internationally retired. The team is coming off several consecutive rotten defensive performances. The notion that we have a strong backline shutting teams out that no new people can crack wasn’t quite true last summer and is even less true now.
Lichaj is the perfect example of “the backup QB is the best player on the team”.syndrome.
Except he has played.
He was never able to nail down a job at Villa after 4 years of chances. And for the US he had a few nice friendlies where he was overshadowed by a rather electric Chandler. And when last seen for BB he was playing horribly in the 2011 Gold Cup Final where his botched penalty box clearance went straight to Guardado who scored the second and tying goal in that Mexican massacre.
And if you tell me that it was because he was playing right back to Bornstein’s left back, I’ll tell you that the US won a lot of game with Steve Cherundolo on the right and Bornstein on the left. In fact, the USMNT has a winning record in competitive games that Bornstein played in.
Lichaj may have improved but JK did bring him in for a pair of games late in 2013 I believe , so JK got his look at him in camp. I saw Lichaj in his cameos in those games and there wasn’t much to see.
Lichaj is a nice player but that ‘s about it. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was called up and it it would not surprise me if he wasn’t
But then the controversy over Lichaj is not about Eric, it’s about JK.
yes, the ‘controversy’ is about klinsmann because he repeatedly failed to call him up when it would have made sense to (for example, so he didn’t have to play jftorres at lb).
as you said, “lichaj is a nice player”, and has been a solid performer for the usmnt when called–although he didn’t have a good game that one time in 2011, as you pointed out. he might not have made the world cup roster, but then again, he might have, if klinsmann had seen fit to give him more than 30 minutes in the last 3 years.
Lichaj did more than “didn’t have a good game that one time in 2011”. He choked and embarrassed himself and should have been ashamed along with all of his team mates for that miserable, putrid performance. Watch the replays if you can stomach them.
“if klinsmann had seen fit to give him more than 30 minutes in the last 3 years”
I think you have that backwards.
Unless I missed the part in JK’s contract where it says Lichaj is entitled to a spot on the USMNT, it was up to Lichaj to do enough to earn more than 30 minutes worth of call ups in three years.
Lichaj had to impress JK , not me or you or the SBI peanut gallery. That is how it works.
Lichaj impressed in a handful or less of USMNT games for another manager nearly four years ago. You make it sound as if JK missed out on Leighton Baines or Paolo Maldini.
I have zero doubt that if JK thought Lichaj could have been more of a help you would have seen more of Eric in a USMNT shirt.
And I don’t know why JK thinks that but then, neither do you. Managers are not obligated to explain to the fans the exact details of why they don’t want to use a certain player. Maybe he hates players of Polish extraction like he hated Klose or Podolski. Maybe he wasn’t impressed with Eric’s mediocre time at Villa.
Or maybe, like me, he thinks the US can do better with other players.
like i said, he had a bad game. it happens. and like you said, his teammates had a bad game, too. i’m assuming you think they shouldn’t have been called up again either.
one of the worst arguments that you and others trot out is “klinsmann is the manager, and if he doesn’t want to call up a player, he doesn’t have to.” well yeah, obviously.
we’re conjecturing about what those reasons could possibly be. can we know with certainty what we’re talking about? nope. will our discussions have any impact on who gets future call-ups? nope. but if you don’t feel like talking about stuff like that, i’m not sure why you frequent the comment section of a soccer blog.
and your line about baines and maldini is inane. we don’t have a baines or a maldini. we have a timmy chandler. when some of us were wondering why lichaj wasn’t called up, we *had* a brad evans (and again, jft that one time).
defense is not exactly a position of strength for us, where we should just turn down players because “he’s a nice player, but he had a bad game in 2011”.
Go down the list of players who played in that final and you’ll see guys like Mikey, LD, Dempsey, Howard, all vets who have had their share of bad days in a USMNT shirt. So what happened to them after that final?
Lichaj went back to his up and down tenure at Villa and then suffered a hip injury which kept him out for a while, then came back for a run of about ten games where he probably had his most consistent run at Villa fueled in part by the majestic ineptitude of the players ahead of him and by their injuries. Ultimately, Lambert, his last manager at Villa whose first buys were a left back and a right back, let him go.
By comparison, Mikey, Timmy, LD, and Clint came back from the 2011 embarrassment with far more powerful and definitive arguments for further call ups than Eric did.
You are right that the US does not have a Baines or a Maldini in the pool of fullbacks.
Which means you assemble your guys and figure out what the collective unit CAN do to make up for their deficiencies and work around that.
The point is you seem to think the only legitimate way for a USMNT manager to truly evaluate a player like Lichaj is to bring him into several camps, evaluate him in practice with the regulars , give him a long run of games like what JK did with Evans. And that would be great if every player in the pool got that opportunity but they won’t.
There is only so much time and X amount of players so the staff have to make triage like decisions on which players to prioritize. We don’t know what the coaching staff “book” on Eric says but obviously, it does not have him in their top tier.
As for the Emerald Flash, if you look at Evans’ run of games, that happens only if the player performs , on and off the field all along the way. And, while Evans is a limited player, that is what happened with Captain Sounder. The team responded well initially to his run of games with two wins vs Germany, a game that I saw in person and wondered who this guy was, and then Jamaica. Of course, eventually he tailed off.
The point is if you are not a Mikey or a Timmy then you better make a big splash with your club and then make the absolute most of your limited minutes, on and off the field, with the USMNT.
Eric finally had his practices with the group and some minutes in two games. His on the field performances were unremarkable and his off the field performance, the practices and the intangibles of how he fits in with the team …. well we don’t know do we?
I don’t rate Eric as highly as you do so the unknowns about his exclusion don’t bother me like they do you.
In my view at 26,Eric still has time to make his case.
Ask yourself this though, if Eric had moved to SKC rather than Forest and had linked up with Zusi, Besler and company would he have gone to Brazil?