[USA SPOTLIGHT]The first time Timothy Chandler came to the USA was to play in the Dallas Cup with his Eintracht Frankfurt youth team. Now the German-American comes to start at outside back for the U.S. national team, a situation he describes a "fairy tale," because last year he was still playing fourth division ball.
"We'd get maybe 200, 300 fans maximum," said Chandler of playing in the German Regionalliga for FC Nuremberg's reserve team.
Then last January Chandler made his first-team debut as a second-half sub. He made two appearances off the bench before getting the start against VfB Stuttgart, scoring and notching an assist in a 4-1 win in front of 38,000 fans. He's started ever since and was rated the Bundesliga's fourth best outside back for the second half of the 2010-11 season by Kicker Magazine.
The Frankfurt native was eligible for the USA because his father was a U.S. serviceman, and Bob Bradley called him in for a March 26 friendly against Argentina, against which Chandler played the second half of the 1-1 tie before a Giants Stadium crowd of 79,000.
Three days later, on his 21st birthday, Chandler played 80 minutes in a 1-0 loss to Paraguay. He missed the Gold Cup -- and the USA missed him -- because Nuremberg preferred that he rest. He returned to the squad under new U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann and played the full 90 at right back in a 1-0 loss to Costa Rica.
Chandler is estranged from his father, who left the family shortly after he was born. His first soccer memories are of playing with his maternal grandfather in the backyard. His grandfather also bought him his first pair of cleats and even now, before every game, he says he speaks to his grandfather.
"I never wanted to do anything besides play soccer," Chandler said. "When school ended I tossed the homework aside and played soccer with my friends."
He first joined a team at age 5, and at age 11 joined the youth program of Eintracht Frankfurt, with which he won a U-17 national championship. He moved from Eintracht's fourth division U-23 team to Nuremberg in 2010.
Against Costa Rica, Chandler kept his flank safe from Costa Rican attacks and moved forward a few times, although not as much as he does for Nuremberg.
"With my club I attack all the time," he said. "I defend farther up the field and my coach wants me go forward as much as possible. [With the U.S. team] I'm much more defensive because that's what the coach [Klinsmann] wants."
Judging from how the U.S. offense fared against the Ticos at the Home Depot Center, Klinsmann may want to encourage more forays down the flank from his speedy German outside back.