He's already wearing the stripes of Eintracht Frankfurt, now all 29-time USA international Timothy Chandler needs are the stars again... - © 2019 Getty Images
He's already wearing the stripes of Eintracht Frankfurt, now all 29-time USA international Timothy Chandler needs are the stars again... - © 2019 Getty Images

Why Eintracht Frankfurt's Timothy Chandler would deserve a USA recall


He may have won his last cap for the USA back in November 2016, but having put two years of injury troubles behind him, Eintracht Frankfurt's Timothy Chandler could now be well worth another look for USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter.

Chandler, born in Frankfurt but eligible to represent the Stars and Stripes thanks to his American serviceman father, was first called up by Bob Bradley in 2011 at the age of 20.

He went on to become a mainstay in the rosters of the Jürgen Klinsmann era alongside fellow Germany-born Americans Jermaine Jones, John Brooks and Fabian Johnson, earning 29 senior caps along the way.

Chandler (l.) was a regular in the USA rosters under Jürgen Klinsmann. - imago/Aswendt

However, after playing in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying defeats to Mexico and Costa Rica in November 2016 – Klinsmann's last two games in charge – Chandler has not been involved on the international scene since.

That has arguably far less to do with his form than it does a nightmarish spell with injuries. Achilles tendon issues, a torn meniscus in his knee, muscular strains and other knee complaints made the 2017/18 season a stop-start one for the versatile defender, who is able to play as full-back or wing-back on either flank.

On Matchday 33 of that season, Chandler then suffered a serious knee injury that required surgery and kept him sidelined for almost the entire 2018/19 campaign. While he was included in the squad for seven matches towards the end of last season, Chandler only played a grand total of 16 competitive minutes.

Chandler in action in his - to date - penultimate international outing, against Mexico in November 2016. - 2016 Getty Images

All of which brings us to the present day. Danny Da Costa's tireless running and two goals and five assists while deputising for Chandler last season have since made him the first-choice on the right wing in Adi Hütter's side.

Yet with Frankfurt participating in three competitions again this season – the UEFA Europa League and DFB Cup alongside the Bundesliga – he is sure to get his chance, especially now that he is pain-free again.

"When I listen to my body, I don't hear anything [now]," he told kicker in summer 2019. "When I'm out on the pitch I always want to give 100 per cent."

Chandler certainly made the most of his first opportunity this season. With Frankfurt 2-0 down away to RB Leipzig on Matchday 2, he came off the bench and provided a superb assist – a devilish, pinpoint cross from the right - for Goncalo Paciencia to pull a goal back.

This cross from the 29-year-old set up Frankfurt teammate Goncalo Paciencia to score against RB Leipzig on Matchday 2. - imago images / Jan Huebner

He didn't neglect his defensive duties either, winning 66.7 per cent of his duels as the Eagles battled – ultimately in vain – to salvage a point against Leipzig.

So far, so good then. But what could that mean for the national team? Well, Berhalter has been keen on playing Leipzig's Tyler Adams in the right-wing back role. Adams is currently injured, though, and as a central midfielder only time will tell how well suited he is to the position.

Sergino Dest and Nick Lima are the likely candidates for the wing-back roles in Berhalter's latest roster, but at 18 and 24 respectively, are less experienced than Chandler. As Sports Illustrated's Brian Strauss put it: "The USA remains thin at outside back".

And Chandler, although predominately right-footed, is able to play on either flank and in a number of formations.

'It’s not such a difficult thing whether it’s my right or left foot, because I can also play with my left," he said after scoring with his alleged weaker foot against Wolfsburg last year.

"I always play where my coach needs me and sometimes he needs me in defence on the right, left or as a centre-back. I always try my best."

The ability, quality and attitude are undoubtedly there. But having not been a part of the national set-up for three years and with Berhalter looking to build to the future with young players, could there realistically be a space for Chandler on the roster?

Watch: From the archive: Owo meets Chandler

Berhalter himself indirectly answered that question when giving Fortuna Düsseldorf midfielder Alfredo Morales a first nomination since May 2016. At 29, Morales is the same age as Chandler and had spent a similar length of time without a call-up.

"He’s done such a good job with Düsseldorf, not only through the first two Bundesliga games, but we’ve seen reports from pre-season where he’s been an outstanding player," Berhalter said of Morales.

"It’s nice to give a guy a reward like that—an opportunity again because of how he’s performing at his club."

With Chandler pushing ever harder for regular starts and games - and having penned a new deal with Frankfurt through to summer 2022 - it could well only be a matter of time before he dons the red, white and blue once more.