Photo courtesy of FC Nurnberg
By FRANCO PANIZO
It has been almost a year since Timmy Chandler last played for the U.S. men's national team and although he has turned down a number of recent call-ups due to injuries or fatigue, the talented youngster insists he is still open to representing the United States in the near future.
Despite not suiting up for the U.S. team since last November's friendly win over Slovenia, and even with him rejecting cap-tying matches throughout the year, Chandler insists he is still interested in playing for the United States. The 22-year-old right back maintains that FC Nurnberg are currently his first priority, but he is not opposed to getting called into thenext USMNT camp, which will take place next month ahead of two cap-tying World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala and Antigua & Barbuda.
"I'm still happy to play for the U.S. national team but right now I want to commit 100 percent to Nurnberg and stay here with the team during this time," Chandler told SBI through a translator. "But in October and until the rest of the year there are enough games for the national team and if [U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann] still wants to invite me, there's still an opportunity I'll play."
Chandler admitted that he does stay in contact with Klinsmann on a regular basis and he also said the two talked in the days leading up to the U.S. team's September camp. Chandler did not go in detail about was discussed, nor if the conversation was about a call-up or just as a means to keep a line of communication open between the two.
Why then has he been so reluctant to play for the United States?
Chandler explains that part of the reason is due to his commitment to Nurnberg, the club that gave him his first chance as a professional, but he also does not shy away from his dislike of the heavy travel that typically comes with playing for the U.S. team.
"It's always a great experience to see other cities and play for the U.S. national team," said Chandler. "The only thing I don't like about it is the traveling."
"That is a part of it and I use the example of the (recent) Mexico game. For four days I would have had to travel to Mexico and back, right when the season started here, so yes that is part of it."
Regardless of his reasoning (Chandler cited the need for rest either before or in the aftermath of both instances), American fans are, by all accounts, unhappy with the fullback's apparent lack of commitment to the U.S. jersey. Chandler is equally not pleased with their discontentment, but he believes there is not much that can be done about that situation right now.
"Obviously, I'm not happy if they think like this," said Chandler. "But they're not in my head, they don't know how I feel about it, so there's not much I can do about it."
Chandler also downplayed the notion that he has spoken to or is waiting to hear from the German National team, though he stopped short of saying unequivocally that he would never play for Germany.
"There has still been no contact from the German federation," said Chandler. "I've always spoken openly about everything with Klinsmann. The only thing is that I want to concentrate on Nurnberg right now."
In terms of World Cup aspirations, Chandler does want to play in the 2014 competition in Brazil. It would be the latest career accomplishment for him should he get there, but Chandler knows it is not completely in his hands, even if he says he is still 'totally open to playing for the United States.'
"I am thinking about (the World Cup), but I just want to see how the next few weeks and months go along," said Chandler, "and if Klinsmann still wants to invite me, we'll see about that."
Aside from his international standing, Chandler is also in the midst of another season with Nurnberg. He reportedly received interest from VfB Stuttgart earlier this year, but opted to re-sign with Nurnberg this past spring on a deal that runs through 2015 to demonstrate his loyalty to them.
"I wanted to show that Nurnberg is one of the bigger teams of the Bundesliga and it was a decision of the heart," said Chandler. "I wanted to show Nurnberg that I'm thankful for what I've achieved in my time with the team so far."
The current season got off to a poor start for Nurnberg and Chandler, as they suffered a shocking 3-2 extra time loss to fourth division club Havelse in the first round of DFB Pokal. It was a wake-up call for Chandler and his club, and they responded by grabbing two key results.
Nurnberg began the Bundesliga campaign by first beating Hamburg SV, 1-0, and they proceeded to tie with defending champions Borussia Dortmund, 1-1.
"We started well with four points against good teams in Hamburg and Dortmund and we want to gain 40 points that will keep us in the league as soon as we can," said Chandler. "We will try to keep going the way we started (the league)."
Playing in the Bundesliga does not just give Chandler a chance to get consistent minutes for the club he thinks so fondly of. It also gives him a chance to talk to fellow German-Americans such as Jermaine Jones, Fabian Johnson and Danny Williams about how the U.S. team is doing.
"I still am in contact with all of them, texting on the phone, when we meet in league games," said Chandler. "That doesn't depend on me being invited to the national team or being there. We're in contact and yes we talk about the U.S. team as well when they do."
Chandler's relationships with his U.S. teammates, and his professed affection for playing for the United States suggests that Chandler is a player who plans on being a U.S. men's national team fixture for years to come. That still isn't likely to ease fears that Chandler is secretly holding out to play for Germany.
The only thing that will ease those fears and re-establish Chandler as a future U.S. star is if and when Chandler plays in a World Cup qualifier, which would tie him to the U.S. team permanently. His next chance, and perhaps his last chance, to do that will come in October.