Klinsmann credits Timmy Chandler with complete turnaround from qualifying disaster

3 Comments

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

De Gea remarks on that save after Man Utd draws Sevilla

AP Photo/Miguel Morenatti)
Leave a comment

It was probably the save of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16’s first legs, as David De Gea slapped away Luis Muriel’s bid to give Sevilla a halftime lead over Manchester United on Wednesday in Spain.

[ MORE: Recap | Mourinho reacts ]

Playing in his home country, De Gea had a massive outing in the scoreless draw.

The defiance of Muriel was De Gea’s second big save of the first half’s closing moments, and one of eight in the match.

“It was a good moment, a good save of course, especially because of the moment in the game. It was the last minute of the first half, it was important to not concede a goal. We defended well. They had control of the game, but it remains open.”

Watch the save below, and then catch De Gea against Chelsea on Sunday as two of the Premier League’s biggest clubs duke it out for Top Four positioning at Old Trafford (Watch live Sunday at 9:05 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com).

New York City FC adds Stuttgart mid with option to buy

newyorkcityfc.com
Leave a comment

New York City FC might’ve found its dynamic box-to-box midfielder.

Ebenezer Ofori, 22, is bringing his relentless motor and eight Ghanaian caps to the Bronx from Stuttgart on a one year loan deal with an option to buy.

[ MORE: Mourinho on Pogba performance ]

Ofori joined Stuttgart from Swedish side AIK Solna in the January 2017 transfer window, and played a role in the club’s promotion to the Bundesliga. He was a signficant part of Solna’s three-round run in Europa League qualification.

But he found very little time on the pitch once Stuttgart rejoined Germany’s top flight, and is taking his talents to MLS.

Here’s NYCFC boss Patrick Vieira:

“I’m really excited to bring in Ebenezer – he’s a young player who is looking to improve, he is really dynamic and can cover ground. He’s really aggressive but he’s good with the ball too. I’m really pleased that we managed to bring him to the football club.

“He’s a competitor, he’s a guy who likes to win, he’s a strong character. He’s coming to this club to compete with the midfielders we have and, like I always say, that will bring the best out of all of the players we have at this football club.”

Ofori joins a midfield with Alexander Ring, Maxi Moralez, and Yangel Herrera. It’s a promising signing, and a name with the potential to take big steps on the club and international scene.

And moves like this are going to continue to happen for NYCFC, because players will feel the allure of being under the eye of Manchester City and the pull of becoming City property. It’s a different dynamic than Chelsea’s loanees in that young players can make their name and be a star in a gigantic world city while attempting to ingratiate themselves with one of the world’s biggest clubs.

Mourinho: “Paul made a big effort”

AP Photo/Miguel Morenatti
Leave a comment

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho had fine words for Paul Pogba, but was tickled by the performance of 21-year-old Scott McTominay in the Red Devils scoreless draw with Sevilla in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

[ RECAP: Sevilla 0-0 Man Utd ]

The visitors emerged unscathed, though without an away goal, and Mourinho raised eyebrows when he kept Pogba on the bench to start the match. The young McTominay started the match, and was paired with Pogba once Ander Herrera left the match with injury.

When a reporter asked Mourinho about McTominay after the match, the boss asked if he could give the reporter a hug before elaborating (via the BBC):

“In the press conference, the questions were about Paul [Pogba] but the question should be about the kid. He was fantastic. He did everything well. He put pressure on Ever Banega and stopped him playing, he’s their playmaker. I think Scott was brilliant.

“I think Paul made a big effort to try to give the team what I asked of him. Paul replaced Ander, he tried to bring to the game the same kind of qualities. He lost a couple of possessions but he also gave us stability because we had a good percentage of possession for the way we played.”

Mourinho was sure to include Nemanja Matic as a big part of the midfield trio.

The Pogba-Mourinho questions aren’t going to go away any time soon, though it should be noted — perhaps strongly — that the player was ill this weekend and United has to face Chelsea in Premier League play this weekend.

Still, he couldn’t help but mention how much he believes “Old Trafford has missed a big European night,” and how he’s looking forward to a potentially big win come March 13.

Nil-nil in Seville as De Gea stars

AP Photo/Miguel Morenatti
Leave a comment
  • English sides unbeaten vs. La Liga in UCL season (2-6)
  • Pogba subs into match for Herrera, 17′
  • De Gea with seven saves for United

David De Gea was the star as Manchester United escaped Sevilla with a scoreless draw in the first leg of the two sides’ UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Sevilla won a corner kick within 90 seconds, but the ball made its way through the 18 without finding a receiver.

Ander Herrera sprung Alexis Sanchez down the middle, but Jesus Navas cut across to catch the Chilean and thwart the United chance.

Navas then dragged a shot across goal and past a diving David De Gea but inches wide of the far post.

A Herrera injury — yes, another injury United supporters — meant Paul Pogba would join the fray after just 17 minutes with the key position in the 4-3-3.

Lukaku botched a terrific diagonal cross from Sanchez with a blast over the goal in the 25th minute.

The 38th minute saw Scott McTominay pump a ball right at Sergio Rico for the Sevilla backstop’s first save, and Angl Correa’s low shot was collected by De Gea for a third Red Devils save.

De Gea then made a leaping save on Steven N’Zonzi’s redirection of a bicycle kick just before halftime, and then slapped Luis Muriel’s header over the bar before the whistle.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

De Gea nabbed another save, his sixth in the contest, when Clement Lenglet got his head on an Ever Banega free kick in the 64th minute.

A Sanchez giveaway provided Sevilla the chance to counter, and Muriel couldn’t get the step back needed to power a header past De Gea.

United had a goal pulled back in the 83rd minute as the ball struck Lukaku’s arm in the build-up.