Klinsmann credits Timmy Chandler with complete turnaround from qualifying disaster


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

MLS to the death: Taking stock of playoff scenarios

Portland Timbers' Diego Valeri, right, challenges Montreal Impact's Laurent Ciman during the first half of a soccer game, Saturday, May 9, 2015 in Montreal. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP
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Five MLS teams have made the playoffs, but in the world of probability that number is a lot closer to 10.

Red Bulls, DC, L.A., Vancouver and Dallas are in the postseason, while Toronto, Columbus, New England and Sporting KC are on the verge. Seattle is just behind that group.

[ MORE: Three big battles between U.S. and Mexico ]

So how about those final two slots?

Eastern Conference

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
x – New York 31 16 6 9 55 39 16 11-2-3 5-4-6 54
x – D.C. 32 14 6 12 39 40 -1 10-3-3 4-3-9 48
New England 32 13 8 11 45 45 0 9-6-1 4-2-10 47
Columbus 32 13 8 11 51 53 -2 8-4-4 5-4-7 47
Toronto FC 31 14 4 13 55 53 2 10-1-4 4-3-9 46
Montreal 31 12 6 13 44 43 1 10-2-4 2-4-9 42
Orlando City SC 32 11 8 13 44 54 -10 6-5-5 5-3-8 41
New York City FC 32 10 7 15 47 53 -6 6-4-6 4-3-9 37
Philadelphia 32 9 7 16 40 51 -11 6-3-7 3-4-9 34
Chicago 32 8 6 18 42 52 -10 8-1-7 0-5-11 30

Matches remaning
at Colorado, vs. New England, at Toronto 
vs. NYC, at Philadelphia
New York City: at Orlando, vs. New England

Obviously, the Impact have the wheel here, though a pair of road tests — one across the continent — aren’t easy. If it comes down to a match against their rivals at BMO Field, all bets will be off. NYC can do Montreal a huge favor by getting a result in Orlando, but Jason Kreis’ side need all three points (Well, all six points… and a load of help). No one is playing better than Orlando right now.

Western Conference

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
x – FC Dallas 31 15 6 10 47 38 9 11-2-2 4-4-8 51
x – Los Angeles 32 14 9 9 53 39 14 12-3-1 2-6-8 51
x – Vancouver 32 15 5 12 42 34 8 8-2-6 7-3-6 50
Sporting KC 31 13 9 9 46 41 5 9-5-1 4-4-8 48
Seattle 32 14 5 13 40 34 6 10-2-4 4-3-9 47
San Jose 32 12 8 12 39 37 2 7-6-3 5-2-9 44
Portland 31 12 8 11 31 36 -5 7-6-3 5-2-8 44
Houston 32 11 8 13 41 45 -4 9-3-4 2-5-9 41
Real Salt Lake 31 11 8 12 37 43 -6 7-6-2 4-2-10 41
Colorado 31 8 10 13 30 38 -8 5-5-6 3-5-7 34

Matches remaning
San Jose:
vs Sporting KC, at Dallas
at RSL, at LA, vs. Colorado
Houston: vs. Seattle, at Vancouver
Real Salt Lake: 
vs. Portland, vs. Dallas, at Seattle

Quite literally anything can happen here in terms of these four. Pressure’s surely on Caleb Porter and the Timbers to finally give their supporters a side worth their passion. RSL is the only other side with three matches left, and the two pair up next. Houston has a harrowing pair of matches, one without Cubo Torres, while San Jose also has two tough efforts.

Chelsea make it official with former AC Milan keeper Amelia
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Longtime Serie A goalkeeper and World Cup winner Marco Amelia is giving Chelsea some cover.

The ex-AC Milan man, 33, has also played for Roma and Livorno amongst other stops in Italy, and has been on trial at Stamford Bridge for some time.

[ MORE: Klopp to Liverpool announcement expected shortly ]

Amelia will backup Asmir Begovic, and give the Blues three keepers in the absence of Thibaut Courtois.

He’s available for Chelsea’s next match, against Aston Villa, and will potentially slide into the No. 2 slot ahead of 21-year-old Jamal Blackman. Whether he’s an upgrade in skill is debatable, but his experience could prove invaluable.