Lichaj ready to seize opportunity in upcoming friendlies

Eric Lichaj Nottingham Forest (Getty Images)

By TYLER GRAY

It’s been a while since Eric Lichaj has been called up to the U.S. Men’s National Team. Injuries, starting a family, and poor club form have all contributed to his long absence. He’s been in the same boat as Timothy Chandler, outcast since the 2011 Gold Cup when Bob Bradley was still at the helm.

The exile is officially over.

“I got the call on Friday after training from the manager and he just said he wanted me to come in,” Lichaj told ussoccer.com. “I told him I was really excited because I was. Last time I had a thigh injury, plus I was having my first child. It’s been a year now since that happened. Time’s passed, and I’m looking forward to this camp.”

This will be Lichaj’s first camp with the national team since Jurgen Klinsmann became head coach. The fullback position has been something of a revolving door for Klinsmann, with Brad Evans and DaMarcus Beasley spending the most time at the spot. Edgar Castillo and Fabian Johnson have made cameos as well.

The 24-year-old defender has seen regular action for Nottingham Forest in English football’s second division this season and it seems like now the time is right. Lichaj knows that every player is hoping for a spot in Brazil and he is eager to throw his hat in the ring.

“For the team, every player is trying to impress to get to the World Cup obviously,” Lichaj said. “For me personally, I’m just trying to do what I do best. Hopefully, that will be enough for the manager to bring me in for the next camp. So, I’ll just keep working hard towards that.”

The national team will be playing friendlies on Nov. 15 and 19 against Scotland and Austria respectively. It will be an opportunity for Lichaj to showcase himself against top competition.

“These are two good games in Europe,” Lichaj said. “We always talked about playing these kinds of games in Europe on these kinds of nights where everybody is tested at the highest level. We need to use these opportunities to see where we’re at individually, where we’re at as a team, and where we can improve now in the last few months before the World Cup.”

This entry was posted in Featured, U.S. Men's National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Lichaj ready to seize opportunity in upcoming friendlies

  1. VMan says:

    Haven’t been following Nottingham Forest all that closely but I read that he had recently been dropped from the starting XI after getting off to a pretty good start this season. What’s the word about his club play? Rough patch?Or over the course of a long season is he simply a borderline starter at English Championship level?

    • Roman Lewandowski says:

      Yellow card accumulation and flu

    • r says:

      he suddenly has great competition at the starting spot but so far he’s been 1 of the best players for the club this season.

    • the_pole_2b says:

      Opposing teams have been complaining that it is unfair to play against him, because he is too good.

      • mike says:

        I’ve been occasionally reading a fan forum for a while now keeping tabs on him. At forestforum.co.uk. His main competition for the spot is with Jara. The fans there seem to regard Jara as a bit better as an attacking back but that Lichaj is better as a pure defender. He has been starting regularly for them until really this last game.

        • mike says:

          unrelated addendum:

          the forest forum is remarkable in its sleepiness. Compared to Stoke’s/Oatcake forum. Anyone find this to be true. The Stoke forum is a place to post and be mauled more often than not. What up with that?

          • GW says:

            What do you mean by sleepiness?

            In general the British fan forums I have read have far less of the knee jerk minute to minute extremist reactions you get on SBI, like when someone scores a goal against a top team and suddenly he is the greatest goalscorer in the history of US soccer, that sort of thing.

            They seem to give you time to prove you deserve to be written off forever. But once that conclusion is reached the player is pretty much dead to them. I doubt you’d see the kind of ongoing déjà vu over a Freddy Adu for example that you see on SBI. If a player doesn’t play it seems they assume he is crap or hurt.

            They are also seem far less interested in posting lineups and their attendant formations.

  2. r says:

    I rather see him playing for us rather than Chandler

    • WK says:

      chandler when confident is a terror on the right. i find it hard to believe he’s going to jst give up after being cap-tied. he’s playing well on a bad team right now, but both he & Lichaj are natural right backs starting for their clubs on a regular basis, yes? If ‘Dolo doesn’t make it, we’re going to need a right back. not a center midfielder, or a center back who can fill in, but a starting right back. maybe its cameron, but i’d argue he starts over Gonzalez IF we had a right back.

      • Freddie Footballer says:

        The wingback position for us is in so much flux right now. Will Cherundolo recover and regain the top spot? Will Evans continue to hold on? Will Lichaj impress? Will Chandler come in from the cold and finally commit to the US – and will Klinsmann forgive him?

        It’s going to be interesting to watch over the next few months what transpires.

      • The Imperative Voice says:

        I like the way Chandler looked but you have to discount that for being during the friendly portion of the cycle. The question is how he’d look with money on the table and ironically even Lichaj has more tape in that sort of context (Gold Cup) than he does.

        Even if he came back he’d have a lot to prove.

        FWIW, Chandler was called up for Russia Nov. 2012 and played, then returned to not being in the team. He’s not just like Lichaj. The Russia game seemed to suggest he was being prepared for the Hex, then it didn’t happen. I don’t know what either side’s reasoning is, whether he’s not being picked, whether he’s refused callins, whether it’s sporting or personalities.

        • White Kix says:

          Chandler did play in the first game of the hex (at Honduras) and put in one the worst individual performances in the mordern era of the USMNT.

    • Maykol says:

      Id rather see chandler because he is better

  3. ZZtopppp says:

    I’m not going to lie…this is a terribly written article and it is devastatingly short. I was expecting much more content and readability. Ives your site needs you.

  4. divers suck says:

    “He’s been in the same boat as Timothy Chandler”
    The difference? Eric Lichaj has never wavered in where his allegiance has lied. Timmy Chandler has. That’s where Chandler falls off the boat as far as I’m concerned.

  5. bryan says:

    lets see how he does.

  6. biff says:

    After Klinsmann’s weird comment the other day about Lichaj…

    “If Edgar Castillo can’t come (due to injury), then suddenly Eric Lichaj has an opportunity to show where he’s at. He hasn’t been with us since I took over two-and-a-half years ago [No stuff, Sherlock. We hadn’t noticed.]. We love these kinds of situations…”

    …it will be very interesting to see who will get the pleasure on Tuesday to play right back and go head-to-head with Austria and FC Bayern left back David Alaba, who is one of the two three or four left backs in the world and regularly makes defenders look helpless. Will Klinsmann continue to go with his preferred right back of the past few months, Brad Evans, or all of sudden will JK want to give Evans a night off and let Lichaj grapple with Alaba. We shall see.

    • biff says:

      one of the three or four best left backs in the world…

    • Maykol says:

      Ehhh top 5, before him certainly are coentrao, Marcelo, and alba. Maybe felipe luis

      • Nihal says:

        Don’t forget Baines and Cole.

      • biff says:

        IMO Alaba already is far beyond Coentrao and in the same league as Marcelo, maybe even a bit better.

        • Maykol says:

          Better than coentrao? Absolutely not

          • Nihal says:

            I think Baines and Marcelo are better than coentrao. Alaba is in the same league.

            • Maykol says:

              Marcelo may be a better attacker overall that coentrao. But coentrao is a better defender. All you need to do is watch coentraos games with portugal to know he is top three in the world

              • Sean357 says:

                Hate to burst everyone bubble but Alaba plays as a CM for Austria. Is an amazing LB but he sees CM as his long term position…..

              • biff says:

                @Sean357: Alaba’s left back role for FC Bayern, which is what I am basing my comments on, means he probably spends more than half his games in the opponent’s half the pitch, overlapping Ribery and often charging from the left into the box. So if Alaba is playing as left attacking midfielder for Austria, that will make him an even more dangerous threat to the right side of the USMNT defense.

    • mike says:

      I’d put Lichaj and Beasley on the left. That would be fun.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I don’t see how Castillo and Lichaj are interchangeable. Castillo is a poor back — by his own admission — who can be an asset in a wing attack spot (though we have plenty of those, including FJ, Landon, Zusi, et al). Lichaj is more strictly a back. If he treats them as cover for each other he’s not assessing his personnel right.

  7. ac31 says:

    Chandler’s main issue is an extreme fear of flying. With the international breaks being relatively short, sedating him with meds is not good options though would work for the WC.

    • John says:

      Thats really been played up, he said he has trouble sleeping on planes.

      • biff says:

        As far as I know, Chandler has never been quoted in the press nor has anyone else saying that Chandler has a fear of flying. If anyone has a link that disputes this, please post it. But I think it is all Urban Myth started on the message boards. Timothy has simply stated hat, like millions of others, he does not like long flights.

        • biff says:

          stated that, like millions of others, …

        • bryan says:

          you kept ignoring the goal.com article where he says in plain English he has a problem with flying!!! and that this was the reason for his hesitation. and that he was never even contacted by Germany. stop ignoring that article man. i’ve linked it so many times. including on an article the other day on this website.

          link to goal.com

          “‘It wasn’t a hard decision for me, but I did have to think about it,’ Chandler said. ‘A lot of people think that I wanted to play for Germany but I never talked with Germany or spoke with the coach to see something.

          ‘I only had to think because I wanted to be clear in my head. With the U.S. national team, you fly all the time, I wanted to make sure that would be OK for me. When I made the decision, I didn’t think about other things. I was 100 percent into the decision and I wanted this.’

          Compare that to the Americans’ upcoming match schedule – a trip to Cleveland, followed by a flight to D.C., then another flight to Jamaica, then at least a 10-hour flight Seattle. The travel is not easy for players who have never experienced that before.

          ‘Yeah, that’s why it was hard. You fly all the time for 12 hours. I’m a guy that I can’t sleep on the airplanes. It’s a big problem for me,’ Chandler stated.”

          • biff says:

            @bryan: you just supported every single point I was making about flying in my comment. Nowhere in that article does Chandler say he has a fear of flying. Like millions of others, he has trouble sleeping cramped up in a jet and doesn’t like it. Poor Timothy. I am sure that Cameron and Dempsey and Fabian and all the other European-based players love the long trips and little sleep and jet-lag. But seriously. Timothy was simply too lazy to go through the discomfort of flying on the plane a half dozen times for WCQ games. He was happy to let the other European-based players do that dirty work. But now that WCQ is successfully complete, Chandler would be more than happy next summer to make one plane trip to Brazil for WC 2014. But I strongly suspect, although I could be wrong, that a lot of other players on the USMNT are not happy with Timothy’s laziness and all the times he snubbed call-ups and that any inclusion of Timmy in the USMNT at this point will be very negative for team chemistry and Klinsmann is smart enough not to do it. even for his buddy Chandler.

            And as for Chandler’s quote about not speaking to Low, well, I believe him. But that does not mean that he did not want to get a phone call from Low. I have posted links on SBI to several stories in the local Nurnberg newspaper quoting Timothy strongly indicating his desire for a Germany call-up. FC Nurnberg appeared last summer and autumn to be doing a PR campaign for a Chandler Germany call-up.

            • Helium-3 says:

              I’m 100% sure these guys aren’t flying coach on overseas flights. There are flat and semi flat bed seats for business class travel over the Atlantic. It’s not like the US team is flying 15 hrs to play Australia every 6 months.

          • AcidBurn says:

            Come on. Two things:

            1) I’m sure that USMNT doesn’t fly coach on those long flights. Long-haul business is not that tough, not like Timmy is squeezing himself in a middle seat next to a crying baby for 10 hours.

            2) There are medications he can take that will knock him out. Use them.

    • divers suck says:

      Is there a limit on them little itty bitty liquor bottles sold on planes if you behave (or pass out)?…Problem solved!!

    • White Kix says:

      Ernie Stewart had issues with flying (fear of flying I believe, it’s been a while), but he still showed up for those little World Cup Qualifiers in the Caribbean and Central America.

  8. MisterJC says:

    Interesting that it was mentioned about him being called up by Klinsmann a year ago, but an injury and a child birth prevented it from happening. All of these folks who claimed JK just didn’t want anything to do with this guy and then this comes out. Maybe, just maybe we’ll be more careful about coming to conclusions without having enough information. It’s not like I was in a hurry to see the guy, anyway…

    • Nate Dollars says:

      i recall more people just wanting a clear, sensible reason for never getting him into a camp before now.

    • Gary Page says:

      If we required people to be informed before posting an opinion, more than half the traffic on the internet would disappear. Ignorance is truly bliss.

  9. Maykol says:

    Top competition? Shouldn’t that be reserved for opponents like Colombia or Spain?

    • divers suck says:

      Cool to see from Colombia. They haven’t been relevant since The Two Escobars…

      • AcidBurn says:

        Colombia just whacked Belgium 2-0 yesterday in Brussels, that same Belgium team that dismantled the US, the one with the resume dripping of EPL stars and the one and only Goalkaku.

  10. kennybabs says:

    hopefully Lichaj’s absence from the national team picture under Klinsi will follow the same storyline as Omar Gs first callup. Klinsi took fo…ev…er to call up Omar and he started a WCQ his first camp. Now he is arguably an every game starter. we desperately need a true fullback at the position for the WC and Lichaj could be it.

  11. BryanV7 says:

    Listen Brad Evans has improve dramatically I honestly wish he was 5 years younger so he can compete in Europe but let’s face it he’s not a true right back and we honestly have 2 pure right backs that play night in and night out in Europe. Timothy Chandler and Eric Lichaj should easily be our first and second option at right back. Steve Cherundolo unfortunately had too face with too many injuries and guys he is 34 years old he’s not 24 him just like Bocanegra and Onyewu are done with the national team they’ve done their jobs. On the left Fabian Johnson is the safe bet at LB he clearly plays that position in Germany every week Beasley is a LM not a true LB I don’t feel safe with Beasley at LB. Just switch positions with FJohnson it’s really that simple. I don’t know any other back up at LB than Edgar Castillo so it’s looking like he’ll make the cut. Klinsmann needs to call the best 4 fullbacks for the World Cup and clearly that’s Chandler, Johnson, Lichaj, and Castillo.