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Timmy Chandler needs to explain himself
by Paul Kennedy, May 16th, 2012 12:53AM

TAGS:  americans abroad, germany, men's national team


The on-again, off-again saga of Timmy Chandler continues. For the second year in a row, the German-born defender has turned down a call-up to the U.S. national team.

Once, we could understand. But twice now? If Chandler doesn't want to play for the USA, he should come out and say so. But holding out to play for German national team -- if that's what he's doing -- is getting old.

U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann won't say it, but reading between the lines of his statement on the Chandler natter, you get the sense he is running out of patience with the 22-year-old Nuremberg player.

Last year, Chandler turned down a chance to play for Bob Bradley in the Gold Cup.

This year, it was for three friendlies and two World Cup '14 qualifiers, the first two competitive games of Klinsmann's tenure.

Participation in a single game in the Gold Cup or World Cup qualifying would have tied Chandler to the USA forever.

Last year, Chandler later cited the need to rest and recuperate from undisclosed injuries as the reason for his decision -- made, he said, at the request of his German club Nuremberg -- to not attend the Gold Cup.

Chandler did not comment on his decision not to travel to Florida for the camp that opened Tuesday, but Klinsmann said it was the need "to take a break." Nothing about injuries. Nothing about Nuremberg's wishes.

“I have had long conversations with Timmy about where he is in his professional career and his commitment to playing international football," Klinsmann said in a Q&A on about his initial selections. "He has expressed his appreciation for all the opportunities we have given him, but he also feels at this point he needs to take a break. It’s disappointing not having him as a part of the team at this important juncture of building our team, but ultimately a player must decide what is best for him. The door is certainly not closed on Timmy, but in the moment we move on without him.”

"Appreciation for all the opportunities we have given him."

"A player must decide what is best for him."

And ... "we move on without him."

Yes, Klinsmann is doing just that.

What makes Chandler's decision curious is that his chances of starting for the USA appear significantly greater than for Germany.

His chances of nailing down a regular spot in the U.S. lineup at right back some time in the near future are pretty good. Steve Cherundolo has played there since 1999, making him the longest-serving player on the national team, but he will soon be 33. (If Klinsmann needs Chandler at left back, he could help there, too.)

They say Germany doesn't have a natural right back, but Coach Joachim Loew doesn't lack for options. Jerome Boateng, 23, or Benedikt Hoewedes, 24, should serve Germany well at Euro 2012 -- and for many years in the future.

The German national team is ridiculously young and ridiculously deep, so the idea that Loew needs to poach Chandler is rather far-fetched.

Former U.S. right back Tony Sanneh stirred things up last fall, tweeting that the word around Nuremberg, where he once played, was that Chandler was going to play for Germany.

The German federation went so far as to issue a statement denying the rumor of meeting between Chandler and Loew.

This time, Chandler needs to come out and explain himself.

  1. Carlos Thys
    commented on: May 16, 2012 at 6:22 a.m.
    I would be very surprised if Jogi Loew, German national team trainer, is planning on Tim Chandler. It is just, as this short article states, very very competitive and full at that position. Borussia Dortmund's Marcel Schmeltzer, Borussia Mochengladbach's Tony Janschke. Both have their belts full of U-21 caps; Chandler has none. Chandler is a well known quantity in Germany, having grown up in the Eintracht Frankfurt program (right next door to the DFB Haus -- stadium and training ground). If the DFB were planning anything with Tim, well, he'd have already been selected and steered toward the DFB as they do with so many who are Turkish-German (Gundogan of Dortmund), English-German (Lewis Holtby of Schalke 04) as just a few examples. The DFB does not let dual citizens slip through their grasp. If I can offer a bit of encouragement and advice, it would be to go the USA route, Mr. Chandler. I would trust that Juergen Klinsmann would know better than most coaches (with all the German commonalities Klinsmann and Chandler share) how to properly woo and intrigue Chandler for an international set of many possibilities with Team USA. Let me be the first then to say what probably no one wants to hear: If Juergen Klinsmann cannot get the interest piqued for Tim Chandler to come play for the USA Team (when they can both talk every nuance in German and speak the language of the Bundesliga), well, this does not look good for Mr. Klinsmann. It is indeed a coaches job at the national team level to lift, excite, show a plan, show a path, offer a vision for both the team itself and illustrate to individual players just how a national team component to one's career can be very beneficial. Let me make it clear: The German Nationalmannschaft is not planning today, tomorrow, or in the future with Tim Chandler. So, it is up to Chandler to make a clear decision. Simultaneously it is up to the USMNT to aid a young 22 year old with understanding how Team USA can only enhance Tim's play and career. As well as offer to him the very best in sports medicine, nutrition, athletic fitness -- the whole range of upper professionalism completely unavailable to just those who play first division football but don't have the opportunity to play for organizationally a top world 16 side. It should not be for lack of trying and proper professional wooing that Tim Chandler turns down this opportunity.
  1. Brian Damphousse
    commented on: May 16, 2012 at 7:01 a.m.
    I like Chandler as a player, but the US requires commitment. The solution is simple: tell him to go play for Germany and not to worry about the US anymore. We can't have this.
  1. Carlos Thys
    commented on: May 16, 2012 at 7:42 a.m.
    Mr. Damphouse, we are not dealing with the mercurial decisions of a more mature 28 year old or 30 year old. Tim Chandler was born and raised in Germany. His US father (one with the US military) abondoned his mother and him shortly after birth. (Folks, that is HUGE -- his U.S. parent abandoned him.) The parent who stuck with Tim and raised him is a German. He went to German schools. I don't know his entire life story, but, other than some sporting events, I don't see where Tim Chandler has ever lived in the USA. He just turned 22. His German language skills are much better than his English. Culturally he is German with a European perspective. His very good options and opportunities to play as a pro exist on German soil in one of the world's best leagues -- and that will keep him on that side of the Atlantic for maybe another 10-11 years. But -- the USA squad for present and for the foreseeable five to six years needs one like Tim Chandler. It is indeed up to senior, professional, seasoned former pros who now lead our US Men's National Team program to show very clearly how much they are interested in him, how they can help him. How can Klinsmann claim to have worked so hard (or so long?) to obtain Tim Chandler's commitment to the USA? Juergen Klinsmann wasn't even in the picture this time last year. Thankfully Tim is still young and this story is not over. I'm just not sure that most understand what it is like for one in Tim's shoes. And who knows what kinds of negative influences he might be experiencing even with his German club 1.F.C. Nurnberg. An article that might help (see the quotes from Tim near the end):
  1. Brian Damphousse
    commented on: May 16, 2012 at 8 a.m.
    Sure enough. But or standards must be firm.
  1. david caldwell
    commented on: May 16, 2012 at 8:26 a.m.
    Klinsmann put him on the field in 6 of 7 games. That's the ultimate commitment, far greater than persuasive chats. I guess Timmy is the rare footballer who does not place highest value on playing for country. I know, he's much more German than American. But his choice could cost him any chance of playing in a WC. Sad. He's a man without a country, really
  1. Eric in DC
    commented on: May 16, 2012 at 2:22 p.m.
    I don't care much about his family background, mother-father stuff. This has nothing to do with that. The simple question is whether he wants to represent the US. Regardless of personal baggage. If he does not want to represent the US, no problem. My feelings won't be hurt nor will anyone else's. But we need to stop calling him at all. Those 6 appearances would have been greatly appreciated by other players who we would groom to play for us. Chandler is a really good player, but I don't want him if he doesn't want to be here. This game is all about will power and desire. Best, E
  1. David Sirias
    commented on: May 16, 2012 at 2:38 p.m.
    It's simple, leave him out of this cycle, or at the very least, anything before the HEX. Let that be judgment day. I think Klinsmann pretty much telegraphed this position anyway. Chandler is young, or he just might be one of those guys who plays soccer for a living and does not really like working when he does not have to. He is not the first nor the last. See, e.g. Joe Barry Carroll.
  1. Michael Dempsey
    commented on: May 16, 2012 at 3:42 p.m.
    Chandler grew up in Germany as a German. He probably dreamed about playing for the German since he was old enough to kick a football. He probably never even imagined playing for the USA until Germany denied him a shot and the USA came calling. If he played for the USA, he wouldn't be playing for country. He'd simply be playing for the opportunity to participate in international soccer. I'm sorry Chandler feels this way, but I can't blame him for not wanting to let go of his dream, as unlikely as it looks at the moment. WC qualifying starts now. If he doesn't want be to part of this team now, then he shouldn't be part of the team if the USA ends up in Brazil. And if I were Klinsmann I would tell him that he's out of the picture for this WC cycle. I woduldn't write him out for next one in a few years though.
  1. gill agee
    commented on: May 16, 2012 at 3:58 p.m.
    Chandler has every right to defer his decision on playing for USA until he is sure his German opportunity is not likely/possible. Any one of us (would that we had his abilities) would do the same. Best of luck to Timmy and I hope he joins the USA squad.

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