Uncapped by the United States since November 2016, it’s high time the USMNT took a second look at Timmy Chandler, the Eintracht Frankfurt full-back helping put wind beneath the wings of the Bundesliga’s third-place side…
Chandler was first called up by the country of his father’s birth in 2011 by Bob Bradley, eight months before Bradley’s successor Jürgen Klinsmann trawled his own motherland for players of American descent to pad out a squad which, beyond Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, boasted few players of European class.
Then 20, Frankfurt-born Chandler had initially been reluctant to accept the call, before releasing a public apology about his reticence. “I understand that a lot of people in the USA may be unsure [about me],” he told US Soccer. “All I can say is that I’m clear in my head about the commitment moving forward. I’m ready. I hope I’ll get chances in the future. I’m in 1,000 percent.”
Watch: Owo meets Chandler!
Fast-forward five-and-a-half years and Klinsmann’s managerial tenure was over, with the US heading towards their first failure to qualify for a World Cup finals since 1986. Chandler only played two games in the section - abject losses to Mexico and Costa Rica - and with Klinsmann gone, it didn’t take long for Chandler to follow.
A ruptured knee ligament sustained against Borussia Dortmund last October as well as family issues in Germany may not have helped Chandler’s international cause, but since a call-up for the 1-1 friendly draw against Venezuela last June - in which he failed to feature - the 27-year-old has now missed 14 straight USMNT squads.
With the European season in full-swing, Dave Sarachan’s latest selection, for Monday’s 0-0 friendly draw with Bosnia-Herzegovina in California, was an experimental one with three players given an international debut. Accordingly, there was no Christian Pulisic, the Dortmund star who plundered seven goals and four assists in the ultimately ill-fated CONCACAF campaign; nor Schalke’s Weston McKennie, who scored on his debut – a 1-1 draw with European champions Portugal – last November.
Both will be welcomed back into the fold imminently. But a closer look at Chandler’s performances in the Bundesliga this season mean that his own return should be just as warmly welcomed.
Chandler’s assist for Kevin-Prince Boateng in Frankfurt’s 2-0 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach was his fourth in the German top flight this term, with the win on Friday sending Die Adler into a provisional second place behind league leaders and record defending champions Bayern Munich. No player in Niko Kovac’s squad has laid on more goals.
More impressive still, he provided it from the left wing, rather than his more natural right-hand side. Such has been Chandler’s return to form that he’s relegated the Netherlands’ first-choice left-back Jetro Willems to the substitutes’ bench in recent weeks, shining in a supposedly unnatural position.
“It’s not such a difficult thing whether it’s my right or left foot, because I can also play with my left,” beamed Chandler after scoring with his alleged weaker foot in the 3-1 win over Wolfsburg on Matchday 19. “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.”
Chandler’s best is proving hard to beat. Only Pulisic has played more minutes among Americans in the Bundesliga this term (1,431 vs. 1,161), and not one of his compatriots – John Brooks, Bobby Wood, Fabian Johnson, Aron Johannsson, Caleb Stanko, Jonathan Klinsmann, Josh Sargent as well as McKennie also ply their trade in Germany – has been involved in so many goals: one every 232 minutes, since you ask. Not bad for a ‘full-back’.
His 42 crosses into the opposition box are more than twice as many as the next-best Frankfurt player, meanwhile. For the USA, versatile Gladbach man Johnson would be wasted in defence; DeAndre Yedlin, the incumbent in Chandler’s preferred position, is enduring a difficult season at Newcastle United in the English Premier League, featuring 18 times for a team that has conceded 34 goals and lurks just a point above their relegation zone.
There isn’t a better American full-back in the world game right now; and Chandler has proved more than able to cut it all over the pitch. The next time the USMNT gather a squad together, they should, like Chandler was all those years ago, be 1,000 percent about getting him back in the fold.