photo by Floria Eisele/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
If there was any lingering uncertainty as to the real reason Timmy Chandler turned downed cap-tying call-ups the past two summers, U.S. men's national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann put them to rest on Sunday.
Speaking via a conference call ahead of the United States' Wednesday friendly against arch-rivals Mexico at Azteca Stadium, Klinsmann confirmed what most American soccer fans have suspected for some time: Chandler just is not committed to the U.S. team.
There was no more talk about fatigue nor about Chandler needing to rest. Simply, Chandler just is not sure whether he wants to cap-tie himself to the U.S. team that has already begun its 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign.
"There's nothing new about Timmy," Klinsmann said. "Timmy is not sure yet if he wants to commit 100 percent to us and we don't stress it out. Simple as that. I told Timmy, 'Whenever you made up your mind, let us know. It's no problem.'
"But I don't want to bring in a player that is not 100 percent committed and we know about his qualities and we know about his character and everything and all we can do is show patience and understanding with all those players that sooner or later in their lives, with duel citizenship, need to decide what path they want to go. I think it's totally legitimate from his side, I think it's actually very honest from his side to say 'I'm not sure yet about this whole thing.'"
Klinsmann added that while he and his coaching staff do have discussions with duel citizens like Chandler about where they stand in terms of their national team preference, they do not try and convince them to pick the United States. Instead, the German-born head coach prefers that the players make the decision on their own when they feel ready.
"Sooner or later, make your call, follow your heart, do what you think is right for you," said Klinsmann. "You can't force anyone into a decision. It's not right."
Here are more USMNT notes from Sunday's conference call:
KLINSMANN OPENS UP ABOUT ROSTER DECISIONS
When the 22-man U.S. roster for the upcoming friendly with El Tri was announced, there were quite a few surprises due to the absence of several regulars as well as the inclusion of new players like Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler and San Jose Earthquakes fullback Steven Beitashour.
Klinsmann revealed the reason as to why his roster was made up that way is because of the timing of this FIFA international date, saying that several European-based players are still trying to regain their form and fitness while others, like Clint Dempsey and captain Carlos Bocanegra, are trying to secure moves to new clubs. That has left Klinsmann with the chance to see some internationally inexperienced but talented players.
"The case is made with European players, they are not there yet," said Klinsmann. "They are still playing preseason, they are simply running behind right now, some have a little bit of injury issues, like Michael Bradley for example with muscle problems, like Jozy Altidore has a injury issue that came out of the (AZ Alkmaar) game today.
"You work yourself through all those elements. … And that gives you an opportunity to see some players on a very high international level with a game in Mexico City, which is a great benchmark to have. Those are the environment where you want to see if they can kind of handle the situation and get a first impression of those guys. I'm not worried about having more younger players in there or even new faces coming in, like Besler or Steven Beitashour, because they've proven their qualties and values over a long period of time in MLS."
SHEA BROUGHT BACK DESPITE RECENT STRUGGLES
One of the more eye-opening selections on the roster was FC Dallas winger Brek Shea, who has endured some trying times in recent months at both the club and international levels.
Shea was one of the biggest pinatas for the public following the U.S. U-23 team's failure to qualify for the Olympics back in March, and his form at FC Dallas this year has not come close to replicating the MVP caliber season he had in 2011. Still, Klinsmann sees a lot of potential in Shea and he wanted to bring him in to show the 22-year-old support through a rough stretch while also further integrating him into the U.S. team.
"'I had good conversations last weeks with Schellas Hyndman of FC Dallas," said Klinsmann. "We both see a lot of upside in Brek Shea and we all knew that after the big disappointment of not qualifying for the Olympics, that our youngsters from their program, will eventually fall into a hole. They will go through emotional roller coasters. This is what happened with Brek. He went through an emotional roller coaster.
"He didn't have himself under control in some cirucmstances. He thought he was further than he actually he is. People may be feeding him information that he's already there, which he's not, so both Schellas and I, we try and kind of go through all those elements and we think he needs now also our support, he needs the feeling that we are there also when things getting tough and things are tough for him similar to an [Juan] Agudelo, similar to a [Teal] Bunbury, similar to a Bill Hamid, similar to a Sean Johnson, this whole generation that should have been in London these last two weeks.
"That was a tough pill to swallow for them and now we are at a part where we have to integrate those players in our plans and give them playing time and give them possibilities to be close to the international level and close to their senior national team. …Getting back to Brek, he has to learn to focus in, he has to learn to be a full professional 24/7, he has to learn that the highest priority is what you deliver on the field, and he has to learn how to live off the field and he's in the middle of that process and we coaches we are responsible to help him in that process."
Are you still open to having Chandler on the U.S. team in the future? Which young player are you most looking forward to seeing versus Mexico? Agree with the decision to bring Shea back into the mix?
Share your thoughts below.