BRIAN SCIARETTA - Monday, March 21, 2011
As the US national team opened camp in Cary, North Carolina ahead of the upcoming friendlies against Argentina and Paraguay, US head coach Bob Bradley addressed Stuart Holden's injury and the callups of Juan Agudelo and Timothy Chandler.
When Bradley announced the roster for the friendlies, one of the most intriguing selections was FC Nurnberg's talented young player Timothy Chandler.
Chandler, 20, was selected after impressing at both right back and right wing for the club that has risen in the standings in the second half of the season.
Chandler was born in Frankfurt and speaks very limited English. His American citizenship came from his estranged father who served in the US military. Despite that, he wanted to play for the US over his native Germany.
For Bradley, this marks the first time he has the chance to watch Chandler play in the US national team set up and he is excited based on his recent tracking of Chandler.
"For Tim, it's only been in the second half of this season that he has started playing with the first team at Nurnberg," Bradley discussed with YA on Monday. "Immediately we were aware that he was working his way into the first team and he started to get some playing time. We were watching his games.
"We have a few contacts," he continued. "[USMNT assistant coach] Lubos Kubik played at Nurnberg so we have a good way of knowing what's going on there. Lubos went to Nurnberg and saw a game live and met with Tim. Tony Sanneh also played for Nurnberg. So we knew he was hopeful to play for us. We're excited to have him here with us."
Bradley also said it was too early to say just yet what position he sees Chandler fitting in with the US national team.
"I think we just need to get to know him a little," Bradley indicated. "At Nurnberg when he plays as a right back, I don't think they play exactly the way we do. So it's just going to be an opportunity for us to give him our ideas on how we do things and see how he responds."
Another US player that was a noteworthy selection was New York Red Bulls 18 year old forward Juan Agudelo who is considered to be one of the top young players in the US system.
This call-up to the national team is the third for Agudelo and it comes at an interesting time as the US U-20 team is currently in Dallas preparing for U-20 World Cup qualifying.
Agudelo has been a key player for that team this cycle but he will miss the team's biggest tournament to date to play with the senior team.
Bradley said that it is not necessarily the end of Agudelo's U-20 career but that it was important to evaluate Agudelo with the core of the US national team while looking ahead to this summer's Gold Cup.
"For this time, he's with us," Bradley said of Agudelo. "With an eye on the Gold Cup, it is important that we assess everyone and have an idea what our best team is going to be. Thomas Rongen and I have had good conversations. We'll see how things go and that will determine the future. "
Finally, the major news around national team camp on opening day was the announcement from Bolton Wanderers that US star midfielder Stuart Holden was going to miss six months after he was on the wrong end of a vicious tackle by Manchester United's Jonny Evans.
Holden had been standout player in the English Premier League for Bolton and was set to take on a bigger role with the US national team. Last year he was on the verge of a breakout ahead of the World Cup but a reckless tackle by Holland's Nigel De Jong in a friendly saw Holden miss considerable time ahead of the World Cup.
This injury is more serious as Holden will miss this summer's Gold Cup and the start of the 2011-12 Premier League season. Bradley did not mince words when discussing the significance of losing Holden but that he still looks forward to having him back at the end of the year.
"We're all feel really bad for Stuart because obviously he got injured last year when we played Holland," Bradley said of Holden's previous injury. "He was able to work his way back and be with us at the World Cup but still really wasn't 100 percent."
"Now he's had an excellent season at Bolton and is a player we see as being an important part of our team," Bradley concluded. "We were looking forward to having him with us at 100 percent and confident. This is a setback but he's shown in the past the mentality to fight through these things but he knows we're all behind him."
The US national team will take on Argentina this Saturday in New Jersey then travel to Nashville to face Paraguay on Tuesday, March 29th.