By Jacob Klinger
On Tuesday Jurgen Klinsmann released his initial 16-man roster for this summer's upcoming international friendlies and World Cup qualifiers.
The U.S. Men's National Team coach has been very public about stating that he is not experimenting with this roster, stating that he will be working with his team's core to start the summer.
Yet while we await the May 20 announcement of as many as 13 additions to the camp roster, this selection has left us with three rather tricky puzzles to solve in the meantime.
Just what is up with Timothy Chandler?
The American soccer community has been simmering with whispers that Chandler is less-than committed to playing for the U.S. He's had some untimely injuries to stoke those flames, but with a deafening silence coming from him, his club (FC Nurnberg) and U.S. Soccer, an inferno of speculation has ensued. Some of it has come from people much closer to the national team than myself.
Chandler can reasonably start on either defensive flank for Klinsmann in addition to his ability to play as an outside midfielder, though preferably a right-sided one. Naturally this usefulness and spotty history have the rumor mill churning away, but I don't see the need to panic yet.
First off, Chandler is very loyal to his club. There are times when he speaks as if his career would be over without FC Nurnberg. In effect, his manager, Dieter Hecking, can joke that German burgers are healthier than American burgers - he'd be missing the point -and Chandler would stay in Germany for another six months straight.
On a more serious note, he was nursing a tweaked hamstring down the backstretch of the Bundesliga season. Klinsmann and company will miss Chandler, but they don't need to be saying their goodbyes just yet.
You know what they say about common sense ...
Tim Ream has started for Bolton seemingly since he canceled his honeymoon and touched down in England. And though his team was crushingly relegated at the weekend, he was well-received by people inside and outside of the club.
More often than not, those people were not opposing strikers. Klinsmann has said that players will join camp and be announced in staggered release announcements corresponding with when their league campaign ended. Ream's absence would then be a gigantic and temporary nothing if Klinsmann had not also called in five other British-based players whose clubs ended their seasons on the same weekend as did Ream's Bolton (Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey, Maurice Edu, Brad Guzan and Tim Howard).
Not only has Ream had a fairly successful adjustment pyramid to the most robustly fast and physical league on the planet. He's done so while displaying the same distribution skills that have drawn the attention of many coaches. Klinsmann's system requires such a skillset from its center backs and while Carlos Bocanegra rightfully holds the starting left center back spot, the team is scheduled to play five games in two weeks and no one can reasonably expect the 33-year-old defender to complete all of them.
Again, injuries and other requests may be in play here, but Ream seemed like a natural choice. Only four defenders have been selected so far, though, so Klinsmann has left himself plenty of chances to pick the former Red Bulls standout.
If he doesn't many jaws will rightfully drop.
Klinsmann's policy on deploying his players in multiple positions is still cloudy. He seems inclined to avoid the practice, but is not married to the idea of avoiding it by any means.
For no player has this been more controversial than with Fabian Johnson. The Hoffenheim midfielder is at his best when he is just that: a midfielder. He can play left back and fill spots across midfield, but he is a burner with the pace and vision the U.S. needs on the flanks.
Yet a strong showing against Italy in the left back spot only stirred further debate. Johnson played well, but didn't shower himself in glory defensively either. His overlapping runs were downright fear-inspiring. His man-marking? Not so much.
And while I usually think people who read into the positional listings of roster announcements are crazy, I'm checking into the asylum too.
Johnson, or Fab if you like, has been listed as a midfielder. He is by far the fastest of the eight announced so far and only a struggling Brek Shea would likely challenge him for the starting left midfield spot.
Though Edgar Castillo's listing as a defender can be questioned as well, one can only hope that when the press release says that Johnson is a midfielder, Klinsmann agrees.
HAVE YOUR SAY ... Is there something else ruffling your feathers? Would you rather see Fab Johnson at left back? Do you know what's up with Timothy Chandler? Please, inform us of whatever it is you think in the Facebook comments section below.
Jacob Klinger is a regular contributor to Soccer 365 where his column "Ready, Set, America" appears weekly. Jacob also writes for No Short Corners and is currently a journalism student at Syracuse University. His love for the game goes back as far as he can remember, but was truly christened during the United States' cardiac qualifying campaign for Korea/Japan 2002. Between classes and columns, he still plays. You can follow him on Twitter @MrJacobK or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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