The talented but controversial fullback talks to Goal about his club aspirations and clarifies what's fact and fiction about why he delayed playing for the United States.On the field, Timmy Chandler is a right back who is willing to gamble on his defensive responsibilities to create opportunities on offense.
Chandler the person is completely different.
The 23-year-old is cautious about the choices that he makes. He has to be completely comfortable before deciding on anything. That would explain a lot.
Last year, Chandler declined a chance to leave FC Nürnberg, one of the Bundesliga's smaller clubs, to join Stuttgart, one of Germany's historic sides.
"I had my chance to play at Nürnberg," Chandler explained to Goal. "I know that Stuttgart was interested in me but they gave me a chance at Nürnberg. It's a good club."
A few seconds later, Chandler pointed out that the 10th-placed Nürnberg had a better season than disappointing Stuttgart, which finished 13th, suggesting that his decision included good foresight.
Stuttgart wasn't the only team interested in Chandler. Storied Serie A side Roma, which features U.S. teammate Michael Bradley, was also linked to the speedy Germain-American last year. But again, Chandler wasn't that interested in moving.
There are a lot of young players who would jump ship easily, looking for a bigger payday and a chance at the spotlight, but Chandler is more focused on his development. He wasn't happy at his performance this season and believes that he needs to get better before making a big move.
"It wasn't my best season," Chandler explained. "OK, I made one goal and three assists but I wanted to do better this year. What happened [this year] is that I didn't play all the time at right back, sometimes I was playing in right midfield. So this season wasn't so good."
Although he has the pace and crossing ability to play on the wing, Chandler prefers playing as a fullback because of the freedom it enables him on the pitch. He explained that fullbacks have the opportunity to use the entire field and he likes to jet up the field when given the chance. He believes that a full season at right back for Nürnberg will allow him to better showcase his ability and help the team improve.
"I think next season I will have a good year," he said. "I want to do more with this club. We've been in the top league for five years in a row and I think if we can buy some good players this year, we can have a really good season and make eighth or seventh in the league."
Considering how careful Chandler is with his club decisions, it isn't surprising that he stalled on deciding commit to the United States for almost two years before he finally became cap-tied against Honduras earlier this year. Chander became an early fan favorite when he debuted for the United States against Argentina in early 2011, but his indecisiveness meant he skipped the 2011 Gold Cup.
Though Chandler holds a U.S. passport, he was born in Germany and there was plenty of speculation that he was holding out for a call-up from Joachim Löw after impressing both in club performances and friendlies with the United States. Chandler denies that he had interest in playing in Germany and insists that it was a straightforward choice for him to play for the Stars and Stripes.
"It wasn't a hard decision for me, but I did have to think about it," Chandler said. "A lot of people think that I wanted to play for Germany but I never talked with Germany or spoke with the coach to see something.
"I only had to think because I wanted to be clear in my head. With the U.S. national team, you fly all the time, I wanted to make sure that would be OK for me. When I made the decision, I didn't think about other things. I was 100 percent into the decision and I wanted this."
Chandler's aversion to flying might open him up for more criticism. But looking at his club career, he isn't used to traveling much. He admits that he doesn't go too far for vacations and neither of his two career club teams, Eintracht Frankfurt and Nürnberg, have played in either the Europa League or Champions League. The city of Nürnberg is just south of the center of Germany, meaning the longest his team has to go for a match on the road is five to six hours.
Compare that to the Americans' upcoming match schedule - a trip to Cleveland, followed by a flight to D.C., then another flight to Jamaica, then at least a 10-hour flight Seattle. The travel is not easy for players who have never experienced that before.
"Yeah, that's why it was hard. You fly all the time for 12 hours. I'm a guy that I can't sleep on the airplanes. It's a big problem for me," Chandler stated.
Chandler also admitted that he experienced a bit of a culture shock after visiting Honduras' San Pedro Sula - ranked as the most dangerous city in the world - for the first time. Still, Chandler says his national teammates have helped him adjust to the lifestyle of a U.S. international.
After an article about Jürgen Klinsmann's tenure was released earlier this year, there have been plenty of discussions about the relations between American-born players and their German-born counterparts on the U.S. men's team. Chandler acknowledged that the German-American players are more comfortable around each other, mainly due to language, but insists they aren't a clique as suggested by some reports.
"I was Jozy Altidore's roommate the last time I played," Chandler said. "We want to make sure that's not always the German players staying together. We are one team and a very good one. It's not about the German players and the rest of the team, I think we all speak well with each other.
"I communicate well with the guys on the [U.S.] team. They know when I come I don't speak so good English but they help me a lot. "
Chandler also admitted he had heard about some of the criticisms about German-Americans being recruited and understands the viewpoint but also believes that U.S. soccer is benefiting from the inclusion of players from the Bundesliga - the best league in the world in his opinion.
"I understand why people ask why so many German-American players come now and play for the U.S., but I think it's good for the team and good for the USA. Players from the Bundesliga can help the team a lot and bring the football [quality of the team] more forward."
As for Chandler's future, although he is tentative on making big decisions, he does have ambitions. He would like to play in England one day.
"I like the Premier League very much," Chandler revealed. "I have a contract with Nuremberg but in the future I'll have a look."
But only if it's the right fit, of course.
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- Chandler hopes Dortmund will upset Bayern Munich:
"I don't really have a favorite between the two [in the Champions League final] but I'll go for Dortmund because I like the way they play," Chandler said. "I like their players, they are a younger team. Bayern is you know... But I think it will be a good game."
- Will other major American investors follow the Yankees and take interest in MLS?
Kudos to the New York Yankees for joining Manchester City in taking a gamble on MLS with their investment in New York City FC. Now it's time for other top sports franchises in America to follow suit.
MLS needs more owners who are willing to spend if the league is going to provide a quality product that attracts TV viewership, the lifeblood of all successful sports leagues. There is a major disparity between the haves and have nots in MLS that is only safeguarded by the league's stringent salary cap. Yes, you don't want a repeat of the NASL where teams overspend beyond their means, but there are a few clubs that aren't willing to put any significant resources toward improving. I'm looking at you, Chivas USA and New England Revolution.
Imagine if the Boston Red Sox's John W. Henry and Tom Werner used half of the resources it did on Liverpool on purchasing the Revs, or if the Dodgers ownership group was in interested in turning around Chivas USA.
- The New York Cosmos will be a tough sell
The New York Red Bulls' struggle to attract fans to Red Bull Arena has created a false perception that soccer can't crack a crowded sports market, but the potential of New York City FC is easy to see. New York is the most culturally diverse city in the world. Placing a stadium that is accessible by subway, bus or cabs will make it easier to attend matches. This is where the Cosmos will struggle.
It isn't convenient for the typical NYC resident to travel outside of the five boroughs, even if it is just one or two stops away on the Long Island Rail Road. At least the Red Bulls can rely on being a part of MLS and its Jersey fan base to remain. The Cosmos play in the NASL, which currently doesn't have high-profile stars or U.S. internationals. The team is taking a big risk as it plans to build a $400 million stadium.
- Daft Punk's Random Access Memories has lived up to my expectations
... That is all.
- It's been less than a week since the New York Knicks were eliminated
I haven't had a beer yet after that day... sad times. OK, maybe I had some the next day but, after Sunday, none. Sad times.
- I'm heading to Cleveland to cover the U.S. versus Belgium Friendly next week
And I'm hoping to bump into this man while I'm out there. Charles, if I see you at a bar out there, first beer or two is on me... DEAD GIVEAWAY.
Watch to watch:
Champions League Final - Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich - Fox - Saturday, 2:45 p.m. ET.
Duh... but seriously, the game should be a good match between two fierce Bundesliga rivals.
Prediction: Bayern wins 2-1 in extra time.
Coppa Italia Final - Roma vs Lazio - BeIN Sport - Noon ET
Michael Bradley has a chance to win his first major trophy as Roma takes on derby rival Lazio in this exciting Italian Cup final. Considering that neither side is known for being particularly strong on defense, except some scoring in this one.
Prediction: Roma 2-0 Lazio