With the entire U.S. MNT Gold Cup roster gathered in Nashville on Thursday, U.S. Soccer ran players through a photo and video shoot ahead of this month’s regional championship. About halfway through the shoot the day before the game against Guatemala, defender Timmy Chandler arrived at the photo station and was told to replicate a regular goal celebration for the cameras.
“I don’t have one. I never score,” said the veteran right back who has just five goals in over 100 Bundesliga appearances.
“If I ever score --,” he tried to explain, before being cut off by team photographer John Dorton.
“It’s not a matter of if you ever score, it’s when you score,” he said.
Chandler would have done well to take that wisdom to heart going into Friday’s friendly. With the U.S. already leading 2-0 in the 58th minute, the 25-year-old received a pass from DeAndre Yedlin on the right and took the space in front of him to unleash a lethal, left-footed strike inside the far left post.
In the immediate moments following the goal, Chandler showed he hadn’t thought much about that celebration still. Instead of pumping his first or jumping in the air, Chandler got mobbed by his teammates about 25 yards from goal.
It was the celebration he preferred anyway.
“I didn’t have time to think,” he said Saturday morning. “I was very shocked -- it was a very nice goal. I was just happy to see all the guys come to me, congratulate me and laugh. The day before they asked me to do a celebration and I told them I didn’t have one because I never score. The next day I score. It’s a funny story, but I’m just happy to score my first goal for the National Team – it meant a lot for me.”
Following the match, the right-footed Chandler told reporters that four of his five professional goals had come with his left foot. Aside from the obvious reason of a right back cutting inside to shoot, Chandler told ussoccer.com Saturday his left peg just feels stronger to take shots with.
“I feel confident in my left. I’m better crossing inside with my right, but I think I have a better, harder strike with my left. It has happened a few times in the Bundesliga. I’ve tried it a few times, but not every time as good as yesterday. The goal gave me some confidence, for sure.”
Chandler’s goal helped put the game out of reach for Guatemala before Chris Wondolowski added a fourth late in the match. While he earned praise from Jurgen Klinsmann post-game, Chandler agreed with the U.S. manager’s assessment that the team needed to improve upon its performance ahead of Tuesday’s Gold Cup opener against Honduras in Frisco, Texas.
“The first 10-20 minutes we didn’t play a very good game. We let the ball go a little bit. It’s not the best we’ve played in the last few months. After the second goal we did well, but we take Jurgen’s comments to heart. We know we need to do more to win against Honduras.”