CHICAGO (AP) – Jozy Altidore is getting another chance, and so is Timmy Chandler.
A month after coach Jurgen Klinsmann dropped Altidore from the roster for a pair of critical World Cup qualifiers, the forward was among the 20 players selected for Wednesday’s exhibition at Russia. Altidore is one of the Americans’ top scoring threats, but Klinsmann had been unhappy with his performance over the past year in games and practices.
“Obviously he was left out of the last games — because of the way he played in Jamaica and maybe a couple other things from the previous months that I wasn’t so happy about,” Klinsmann said Monday. “I mentioned it to him, and now having him back in the group gives us an opportunity to talk through that stuff and also to see his total commitment on the field.”
Altidore, who turned 23 last week, has 12 goals in 15 games this season for AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands and is second in the Dutch league with nine. He also has 13 goals in 51 international appearances.
But he was ineffective in home-and-home World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica in September and has not scored for the U.S. since an exhibition at Slovenia last November. He arrived late at the May-June camp when his club cited FIFA regulations and blocked him from reporting on time.
“He’s an important player for us,” Klinsmann said. “He’s fighting his way through the Dutch league and doing well there, and we hope he brings the same energy into our group.”
With the game in Krasnodar, a city near the Black Sea, and Major League Soccer in the midst of the playoffs, Klinsmann opted for a mostly Europe-based roster. He left off veterans Clint Dempsey and Steve Cherundolo, and called in up-and-comers Juan Agudelo, Mix Diskerud, Josh Gatt and Joe Gyau.
But perhaps the biggest surprise was the return of Chandler. The German-American defender played in eight exhibitions for the U.S. in 2011 but spurned invitations for World Cup qualifiers, which would have tied him to the U.S. team. That led many to question his commitment to the Americans, a suspicion Chandler said he understands. But he said in an interview with USSoccer.com that he had thought long and hard about his decision before accepting his latest call-up, and is ready to be a part of the U.S. team for the long term.
“All I can say is that I am clear in my head about the commitment moving forward,” Chandler told the website. “This was about me being ready to accept the responsibility of being a part of the national team and everything that goes with it, and now I am ready. — I am in 1,000 percent.”
Klinsmann said he was “thrilled” to have Chandler back with the Americans.
“With his dual citizenship and having a choice, it’s a big, big decision,” Klinsmann said. “He knews now that once he makes the final decision, that’s going to be his life. So I don’t want to put any pressure in a situation like that.”
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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