Klinsmann credits Timmy Chandler with complete turnaround from qualifying disaster

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It wasn’t long ago that US fans watched USMNT right-back Timmy Chandler wither in the Honduran heat as the US fell to Honduras 2-1 in the beginning of World Cup qualifying.

Thanks to that performance, it was a big surprise that Chandler made the US World Cup roster ahead of the favorite right-back Brad Evans.

The 24-year old hasn’t made an appearances for the United States since that time, but according to head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, he’s reinvented himself as a player, and the shriveled defender we saw in February of 2013 is gone for good.

But it didn’t happen without complete dedication and commitment from the player.

“I told him, ‘Listen, you get that chance to come into the 30-man roster, but you have to prove that to everyone here,’” Klinsmann said from USMNT camp at Stanford University. “And from Day 1, he took over. He did that. He’s a different Timmy now than he was a year-and-a-half ago.”

That’s good news for US fans, as Chandler happens to play right-back, a position that has an enormous task ahead of it.

With Portugal drawn into the same World Cup group as the United States, it means Ballon d’Or winner and left-wing specialist Cristiano Ronaldo will step onto the pitch looking to chew up and spit out any defenders he comes across.

As far as Ronaldo goes, it’s likely that nobody will be able to stop him.  It will take a full team effort to track his movements across the pitch and limit the damage he can cause the back of the net.  His runs from the touchline into the middle often cause communication havoc for opposing defenses when it comes to man marking.

But as the defender on that side, Chandler would be responsible for covering one of the most electric players in the world should he get the start at right-back against Portugal. It was something Klinsmann thought about when he brought Chandler in for camp.

“Coming in here, that was one of the question marks,” Klinsmann said. “Could he show it right away? Is he behind or is he right away up for 50-50 battles?”

But according to the skipper, he’s known all along that Chandler was capable of making it this far, even after the disappointment in Honduras.

“I always talked with him, ‘I want you whenever you come. I need you to be 1,000 percent committed to everything here,’ even if he said that before,” Klinsmann said. “I said, ‘Your team, everybody, needs to see that.’”

It came as a surprise to Chandler, who said he “thought my chance was gone” after what happened in World Cup qualifying.

However, the job isn’t done yet, it’s only just begun. And despite showing his coach he’s past that match 16 months ago, he has to show the world, and he’ll have to do it in similar if not worse conditions.

The Honduran heat, which Chandler referred to as “unbelievable,” will likely be nothing compared to the temperature and humidity of the Amazonian rainforest city of Manaus where the US will take on Portugal.

“I think I worked very hard and that’s why [I got called back in],” Chandler said.  It’s time for him to prove to his country he’s ready.

RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly

Bayern fans unhappy with Champions League ticket prices

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich fans were unhappy with the price of tickets for their team’s match at Anderlecht in the Champions League.

[ MORE: Study to show long-term affects of playing soccer ]

The fans held banners during Wednesday’s game saying, “Are your necks not full? Is your greed now finally satisfied?”

A Bayern fan group, Club Nr. 12, issued a statement saying Anderlecht had made 85 percent of the tickets available to the German club’s fans priced at 100 euros ($118).

“Even by the standards of the generally high-priced Champions League, this represents a new dimension for a first-round game,” said the statement, which thanked Bayern for supplementing the tickets so fans had could pay 70 euros ($82.50).

Many Bayern fans avoided the trip to Brussels altogether, while 91 percent of more than 2,500 Club Nr. 12 members said in a survey that ticket prices were “completely unacceptable.”

[ MORE: Premier League player power rankings ]

Anderlecht spokesman David Steegen told The Associated Press that Bayern fans were charged “exactly the same price” as home fans who bought single tickets to the game. He said fans who bought a three-game Champions League bundle were offered a reduction.

UEL roundup: AC Milan advances after big win; Arsenal, Everton fall

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Both Premier League sides fell in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League play, but for one side the result didn’t effect their progression into the next round.

[ MORE: Ex-Brazil forward Robinho handed nine-year prison sentence ]

Arsenal dropped a 1-0 result to Cologne, however, the Gunners still moved into the Round of 32 after their Group H counterparts, Red Star Belgrade and BATE Borisov settled for a scoreless draw.

Meanwhile, Everton’s 2017/18 woes continued on the day as the Toffees suffered a brutal 5-1 defeat at home against Serie A side Atalanta. The win secures Atalanta’s place in the knockout phase, along with fellow Group E club Lyon — who also won on Thursday.

AC Milan put up five goals of its own in a convincing win against Austria Wien, while Lazio, Nice and Red Bull Salzburg were among the other sides to move into the next round after picking up the necessary results.

Below are all of the scores from Thursday’s Europa League action.

Astana 2-3 Villareal
Konyaspor 1-1 Marseille
Rosenborg 0-1 Real Sociedad
Lazio 1-1 Vitesse
Viktoria Plzen 2-0 Steaua Bucuresti
Lokomotiv 2-1 Copenhagen
Zenit 2-1 Vardar
Red Bull Salzburg 3-0 Vitoria
Athletic Bilbao 3-2 Hertha Berlin
BATE 0-0 Red Star Belgrade
Ostersunds 2-0 Zorya
Koln 1-0 Arsenal
Nice 3-1 Zulte Waregem
Lugano 1-0 Beer-Sheva
Ludogorets 1-2 Istanbul
Braga 3-1 Hoffenheim
AEK 2-2 Rijeka
AC Milan 5-1 Austria Vienna
Lyon 4-0 Apollon
Maccabi Tel Aviv 0-2 Slavia Praha
Sheriff 1-0 Zlin
Partizan 2-1 Young Boys
Skenderbeu 3-2 Dynamo Kyiv
Everton 1-5 Atalanta

Ex-Brazil forward Robinho sentenced to nine years in prison

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Former Brazil international Robinho has been sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted of rape on an Albanian woman back in 2013.

[ MORE: Study will look at long-term effects of playing soccer ]

At the time, Robinho was playing for Serie A side AC Milan.

The court decision came down on Thursday after the 33-year-old forward had failed to attend any court hearings in Italy, where the crime reportedly took place.

Robinho is believed to have acted in the crime with five other Brazilians, to which their whereabouts are unknown to this point.

Reuters has reported that Robinho is entitled to up to two appeals and “Italy would only launch extradition proceedings once this legal process is exhausted.”

The Brazilian is known for his club playing days at AC Milan and Manchester City, among other clubs in addition to his time with the Selecao. Robinho took part in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups with Brazil.

Premier League Preview: West Ham vs. Leicester City

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  • West Ham is winless in last six against Leicester
  • Jamie Vardy has two goals, two assists in last 4 games vs. West Ham
  • Hammers have nine points through first 12 matches

West Ham United will host Leicester City from the London Stadium on Friday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET Friday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as David Moyes and Co. look to climb out of the relegation zone.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

Moyes and West Ham currently sit 18th in the Premier League through 12 games, and will be hoping to see an improvement in their form with the potential returns of Andre Ayew and Marko Arnautovic.

The Hammers are without Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Michail Antonio, as well as James Collins.

The Foxes are winless in their last two matches, and coming off of a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City over the weekend. Robert Huth and Matty James remain sidelined for Puel’s group, but otherwise, the club is relatively healthy.

What they’re saying

West Ham boss David Moyes on turning the team’s form around: “We need to give the supporters something to shout about and something that looks half decent, and then they will support us. I want everyone to be together. I am not aware of the problems before I came, I was a bit surprised when I heard (chanting against the board). “I want them behind us to give us a chance of winning.”

Leicester’s Claude Puel on confidence in his players“I have a good feeling with the players; they listen, they work hard on the pitch and I feel their ambition. We will see in the next games, with a good adaption and rotation, to see them approach it with a positive attitude.”

Prediction

The Hammers are missing several key attacking pieces, including Hernandez, which will surely make the defensive task easier for Leicester. The Foxes attack hasn’t been at its finest, but they’ll be facing a West Ham back line that allows over two goals per game (25 in 12 matches).
West Ham 1-3 Leicester