Chandler, 27, has an unclear role in Bruce Arena’s plans with the USMNT. Previous coach Jurgen Klinsmann never figured out the right system for the player, and it will be interesting to see if Chandler continues to be instrumental in his European club but an odd-shaped piece in his national team’s jigsaw puzzle.
A fine season with Eintracht Frankfurt won’t translate to the United States men’s national team for Timmy Chandler, at least for now.
The versatile 27-year-old fullback has pulled out of U.S. camp with a hamstring injury, shutting down his chances at laying claim to a starting position in Saturday’s friendly against Venezuela or the following World Cup qualifiers against Trinidad and Tobago and Mexico.
Perhaps he’ll get his chance in July’s Ghana friendly, or in the Gold Cup, but this was a prime opportunity for Chandler to reinvent himself under Bruce Arena the same way he reinvigorated his club career this season.
Chandler played the third-most minutes for Frankfurt this season, but his 29-times capped USMNT tenure has been tumultuous at best.
He would’ve been a potential left back for Arena, but was going to get one heck of a fight from Santos Laguna’s Jorge Villafana.
Young American winger Christian Pulisic started again for BVB, and was a key playmaker whether shooting or passing. Yet BVB went down thanks to Ji Dong-won.
Augsburg keeper Marwin Hitz was under siege as the second half began, stopping Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang off a Pulisic feed just after Ousmane Dembele put BVB level.
Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 Mainz
Branimir Hrgota and Aymen Barkok scored in the first and second halves, respectively, before Hrgota added a second late in the match. USMNT man Timmy Chandler started in the midfield as Eintracht scooped three points.
Hamburger SV 2-1 Schalke
Bobby Wood began the game on the bench for Hamburg after scoring at the weekend, and Hamburg scored one minute after he entered the game. Nicolai Muller nabbed the marker in the 60th minute off an assist from Filip Kostic.
Wood was a more direct contributor in the 81st minute, working his way to a foot of space before hammering an in-box shot home for his second goal in as many games. Schalke pulled one back through 20-year-old Donis Avdijaj, but Hamburg held strong for a huge three points.
Daniel Caligiuri lifted the visitors in front after just three minutes, with the assist going to Max Arnold. Thorgan Hazard knotted it up 7 minutes after halftime, but Mario Gomez restored Wolfsburg’s lead with his fourth goal of the season.
USMNT left-sided man Fabian Johnson remains out for Gladbach with an achilles tendon problem.
Wednesday All matches at 2 p.m. EDT
Hertha Berlin vs. Darmstadt
Koln vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Bayern Munich vs. RB Leipzig
Ingolstadt vs. Freiburg
Hoffenheim vs. Werder Bremen
Timmy Chandler — The Eintracht Frankfurt has struggled at nearly every turn for the USMNT, but should still get a look from Arena given that he’s playing week-in, week-out for a top half Bundesliga team and Klinsmann was using him slightly out of position. Then again, Arena could turn on any given USMNT match that featured Chandler and say, “No way.”
Michael Orozco (right) — At center back, Arena knows he has better options all over Major League Soccer (Tim Hedges, Walker Zimmerman, etc.). At fullback, same.
William Yarbrough and Ethan Horvath — I think Horvath is a possible long-term USMNT starter, but we bet Arena is going down the list of MLS keepers with glee (See “Stock up” for who).
Young guys — Unless you’re Christian Pulisic or some other exceptionally gifted young player already operating at a high level, this isn’t a good sign. Arena had a reputation for taking a while to break younger guys into the fold. This could also be something that changes. Arena said Tuesday that the player pool is better than ever before, and guys like Cameron Carter-Vickers (Spurs) and Julian Green (Bayern Munich) are an injury away from featuring regularly for top clubs. That matters (we think).
Eric Lichajand Jonathan Spector — Mainstays for their Championship clubs, the pair never got love from Jurgen Klinsmann (and we heard his displeasure with DeAndre Yedlin moving to England’s second tier with Newcastle). Lichaj has played nearly everywhere for Nottingham Forest, and Spector’s been a Birmingham City mainstay. Both could, and should, get looks.
Landon Donovan (but, really, all Galaxy players) — Who knows who Arena really trusts, but if he’s looking to plug a hole who better to ring than someone he’s worked with on a day-to-day basis for ages? We saw this with Michail Antonio during Sam Allardyce‘s short stay at West Ham.
We’re sure there are several Galaxy players who didn’t receive call-ups under Klinsmann, much to the chagrin of Arena. Maybe he adores Daniel Steres, or Sebastian Lletget (speaking of West Ham). You can count on Gyasi Zardes. Now, about Alan Gordon…
As for Donovan, he’s undecided on whether he’ll continue his “unretirement” into 2017. But if he does, we’ve seen what veteran guys like Carlos Ruiz and Christian Bolanos can mean in CONCACAF qualifying.
Bill Hamid, Luis Robles, David Bingham — When it comes to sitting behind and perhaps challenging Brad Guzan and Tim Howard, we expect Arena is going to take his domestic looks first. And several of these names, including the veteran Robles, will have a January camp devoid of European competition to impress Arena.
Benny Feilhaber — This one’s obvious, as he was mentioned in conference call and Klinsmann had no interest in the Sporting KC midfielder. Yes he’s older and probably not going to overtake Sacha Kljestan, but getting even a moment’s consideration is stock up from the Klinsmann era.
Dax McCarty (right) — We doubt Arena is ready to pull the plug on Michael Bradley and even Jermaine Jones, but McCarty has long deserved a return to the fold, if only for a look-see.
Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman — Arena watched FC Dallas’ center back duo help shutout his Galaxy over 180 minutes of October ball. And Zimmerman scored the lone goal in one of the matches.
Dom Dwyer — He can apply for U.S. citizenship in 2017, and has had a bit of luck against Arena’s Galaxy. The coach has praised Dwyer as a scorer in the past.
Some other MLS-based names who have had some success against Arena’s Galaxy this year: Keegan Rosenberry, Fatai Alashe, Jordan Morris, Lamar Neagle, Kelyn Rowe.
Yeah, the USMNT fell to Mexico in a home World Cup qualifier for the first time since 1974*, but it was both the first game of 10 in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying and possibly the third-trickiest (Away Mexico, Away Costa Rica).
*There was a 16-year gap in home qualifiers from 1982-1998.
So let’s chat about a number of significant issues from Friday, and moving forward to Tuesday in Saprissa.
1) Coach, captain need to get on the same page — Whether Jurgen Klinsmann or Michael Bradley is correct in their assessment of what went wrong with the 3-4-3 formation — Bradley said it was direction and comprehension, Klinsmann pointed to Bradley and Jermaine Jones — there’s a reason we rarely see that sort of intra-team finger pointing in sports.
The truth is that Bradley and Jones had poor games in a questionable at best system chosen by Klinsmann. Move on, guys.
2) Yeah, the formation change worked, but also… please don’t forget that while the United States was undoubtedly more comfortable once switching from a 3-4-3 to a 4-4-2, that switch also happened when arguably the best player on the field had to lave the game through injury. PSV Eindhoven’s Andres Guardado subbed off hurt in the 28th minute and the USMNT started to run the midfield.
3) That right side of the defense needs better — Klinsmann pointed to Timmy Chandler’s fine form for Eintracht Frankfurt and DeAndre Yedlin‘s last few camps and status in England’s second tier as the reason for using Chandler at right back.
That maybe so, but Chandler struggled in the first 30 minutes if not longer. That’s not an outlier when he suits up for the United States, but also consider how Eintracht Frankfurt regularly trots out Chandler for their top half Bundesliga side.
Chandler has a lot of freedom on the right of a five-man back line, where he can take chances without crippling the defense. That wasn’t the case in a 3-4-3, and Geoff Cameron‘s absence means the support around the center backs has to be almost pristene and certainly not risky.
So if Klinsmann’s thinking “No” on Yedlin, then it has to be a four-man back line with Chandler… or something even more safe.
4) Brooks’ partner — John Brooks made a big mistake on the set piece goal that gave Mexico the 2-1 win, but otherwise was perhaps the most important part of the Americans escaping the first half down by just one. Omar Gonzalez was not a nightmare next to him once the four-man back line emerged, but is he the answer for Tuesday? Could Matt Besler move inside with Fabian Johnson dropping to left back? Is Steve Birnbaum the right call?
5) Jones and Bradley must improve — Bradley is undoubtedly a USMNT legend, but the captain hasn’t had a star performance for country since before the Copa America Centenario — probably the blowout of Guatemala — and what the heck was he doing in not laying off to Bobby Wood on that second half 2v1?!?
Jones’ aggression is what it is and he can certainly put it to good use, but he missed the boat on Friday. That’s not too much of a surprise given his long absence for Colorado, but Klinsmann indicated that Jones would be fit to go on Tuesday and wouldn’t even say he expects his longtime midfielder to go less than 90 minutes.
So they better step their games up against Costa Rica’s gritty, cantankerous midfield in Saprissa.
6) Stick with the attack plans, or get aggressive? — Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore were sensational in the second half, with the latter setting the former up for several chances including the goal. And Christian Pulisic improved dramatically after some early stumbles.
So is it 4-4-2 with Pulisic atop a midfield diamond or on one of the wings? Is it the “front three that really isn’t a traditional front three” where Pulisic, Wood, and Altidore are basically lining up wherever the play takes them? Does Sacha Kljestan work as the third midfielder in this situation, or is it Alejandro Bedoya?
7) Regardless of Friday, and Tuesday, what’s the CM future? Jermaine Jones is 35, and the 29-year-old Bradley honestly hasn’t looked the same for country — at least on a consistent basis — since coming back to Major League Soccer.
The question is how much of that should be pinned on Klinsmann? If the answer is “a lot”, then some serious conversations have to be had about wasting one of the most talented, intelligent, and important players in United States history for the final half-decade (or so) of his time in the USMNT kit.
If the answer is that Bradley is no longer the same player, then we have questions beyond his implementation. Who is in the pipeline at center mid after him and Jones? Kyle Beckerman is nearly as old as Jones and Osvaldo Alonso — the near-perfect answer — is unlikely to get his release from Cuba.
Hearts captain Perry Kitchen will get a look for his defensive acumen, but neither him nor Reading man Danny Williams is even getting called into the team by Klinsmann right now. Kellyn Acosta is seemingly a left back for the United States right now, Dax McCarty isn’t being called in, and Wil Trapp, Emerson Hyndman, and Fatai Alashe are firmly on the periphery.