On the Record
Timothy Chandler: A Club Stud Who Struggles for U.S.
April 10, 2015
TIMOTHY CHANDLER IS A PERPLEXING PLAYER. On the one hand, the 25-year-old is a reliable and regular Bundesliga performer, whose club—Eintracht Frankfurt—currently occupies the eighth spot in the German top flight.
On the other, the right back’s form for the United States men’s national team can give cause for concern and he is often roundly criticized at international level.
In this edition of On the Record, we take a look at Chandler’s 2014-15 campaign, bringing you the story and the view from both camps.
Born and bred in Frankfurt, Chandler came up through Eintracht's youth setup before leaving to join FC Nurnberg in 2010 in search of first-team experience.
The Bavarian outfit moved Chandler from an attacking player into the full back role that he now occupies for club and country and he racked up 102 games (in all competitions) during his time with Der Club.
Four years later Chandler re-signed with his boyhood side after Nurnberg's relegation to the 2.Bundesliga.
“We're really happy the deal's gone through," Eintracht sporting director Bruno Huebner told Bundesliga.com on June 3 last year. "It's great that Chandler's come back to Frankfurt. He left as one of our own, but now he's home again.”
Last term, Chandler clocked up 21 performances in the Bundesliga but was forced to miss a large chunk at the end of the campaign with a ruptured outer meniscus. He also had to be patient as 2014-15 began, getting just 34 minutes of play across the first three fixtures of the season.
He saw 90 minutes of action in the three games after that, including a 2-1 win against Hamburg on September 28, in which Chandler grabbed an assist.
In the next tie it was back to the bench for all but one minute of game time against FC Koln. Chandler only played 22 minutes in the subsequent fixture against SC Paderborn on October 19.
Chandler was back in action with the United States men’s national team on November 18 for a friendly against the Republic of Ireland. Following displays against the Czech Republic, Ecuador and Honduras, it was to be Chandler’s fourth appearance for the U.S. since the Brazil World Cup, to which he travelled but did not play.
Playing out of position at left back, Chandler saw 76 minutes of the friendly, which turned out to be a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Martin O’Neill’s side.
“The Eintracht Frankfurt defender has not been earning regular minutes at the club level and his struggles carried over to Tuesday’s game," ASN contributing editor Brian Sciaretta wrote in the New York Times. "As one of the few speedy players on the United States team, Chandler offered little moving forward and was part of a defense that simply was overrun.
On the BigSoccer Forum, site user 21st century Pele voiced his/her opinion with, “Chandler is only B team material on a good day (and this game wasn't a good day).”
Results were a little kinder back in Germany, where Chandler’s influence was starting to grow. Slowly, he made the right back position his own at Commerzbank Arena—filling the space vacated by Sebastian Jung who opted to join VfL Wolfsburg during the summer.
Eintracht went unbeaten in its next three games, including a 3-1 win against Borussia Monchengladbach, a 2-0 victory against Borussia Dortmund, and a 5-2 rout of Werder Bremen.
By the time the Bundesliga paused for its winter break on December 20, the U.S. international had become an ever-present in Schaaf’s team. At the time, German sports writer Raphael Honigstein rated the first half of Chandler’s season on ESPNFC.com:
“Schaaf wants his full backs to join the attack as much as possible. Though that makes for fun football, there's often a price to pay as they're often overrun or isolated in defence. Yet Chandler's football has been solid without ever reaching the highs or lows that his team is capable of, collectively. In other words: he's doing his job, every week. There aren't many U.S. players in Europe's top leagues who can claim as much.”
Since the Bundesliga kicked off again on January 31, Chandler has not missed a minute of football—apart from a one-match suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season.
He bagged another assist on Valentine's Day, setting up Lucas Piazon in a 1-0 win against Schalke.
TORRRRR !!!! Lucas Piazon with a fine header from a quality cross from American international Timothy Chandler, Frankfurt 1-0 Schalke 65'— Bundesliga Fanatic (@Bundesliga4u) February 14, 2015
Other recent games include a 4-0 win against Paderborn, in which Chandler was praised for his efforts.
Timothy Chandler another standout performance & clean sheet for Eintracht Frankfurt; 4:0 win vs Paderborn, staying in range of top 4. #USMNT— Roderick MacNeil (@rodmacneil) March 14, 2015
This was followed by a 3-1 loss against VfB Stuttgart on March 21.
Four days later, Chandler was back in action for the U.S. in its 3-2 loss against Denmark. Chandler notched an assist for Jozy Altidore’s opener.
Classic Jozy muscle on the goal. Timmy Chandler getting it all cooking out wide. #USAvDEN— Max Bretos (@mbretosESPN) March 25, 2015
However, following the Danes’ equalizer, the knives were out:
I'll say this much about the US game, I don't care to see Timmy Chandler in a US kit again anytime soon.— Adam Swift (@AdamTheRed) March 25, 2015
The Guardian’s Graham Parker offered this:
“We’ll see what next week brings, but another reclamation project, Timothy Chandler, had a mixed night after starting at right back. Chandler had endured a poor positional game against Turkey during World Cup warmups. Those performances had virtually guaranteed he’d be a last resort in Brazil, and if he was visibly disappointed about how that turned out, his cross to pick out Altidore for the USA’s opener could have been sweet vindication.
“But Chandler was at fault for Denmark’s equalizer—ball-watching badly from the edge of the box as Nicklas Bendtner slid the ball home at close range, and while he played the full 90 minutes, he failed to make a compelling case for himself.”
On the BigSoccer Forum, Susaeta wrote on March 29, “If you watch the second half of the Denmark game, Chandler got better as the match went on. I would like to see him get a full run out again to see if his US issues are just a matter of acclimation.”
On March 31 the U.S. played to a 1-1 draw with Switzerland, and Chandler was praised and criticized in equal measure—the latter for his part in allowing Valentin Stocker’s goal.
Which soon turned to:
Most hilarious part of Switzerland goal was Timmy Chandler, 2 yards off the goal line keeping everyone onside, raising his hand for offside.— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) March 31, 2015
Not sure what Timmy Chandler was thinking on the Swiss goal. Drifted to the endline for no particular reason, kept #SUI onside.— Robert Jonas (@robertjonas) March 31, 2015
“Not sure how anyone could say he had a solid match vs Denmark," said Ferrari77 on the BigSoccer Forum. "It wasn't atrocious but it damn sure wasn't a good match for him. I think he had a slightly better match yesterday vs Switzerland but that isn't saying much. He had one or two good tackles but his positioning is just down right horrible. His marking leaves a lot to be desired and his commitment to singing the national anthem is way stronger than his commitment to proper defending for 90 minutes."
ASN reader Anthony Ward chimed in too: “Chandler is the RB for the USMNT going forward. And yes the American Soccer media does have a bias toward Chandler. I thought he was quite good against the Swiss.”
Henry Davis added: “Chandler shows up for the USA. Everyone just blames him for others' mistakes, magnify his mistakes, and give him no credit for holding down his flank or starting almost every counter attack. He makes dumb plays, but it seems most watch the game with intent to blame him for everything possible. And how about we give him partner that can do basic 1-2 passes. I'm talking about Zardes.”
Back on German soil, Eintracht’s most recent outing saw it record a 2-2 draw with Hannover on April 4.
After featuring in the tie with Die Roten, Chandler made it into WhoScored.com’s Bundesliga Team of the Week—a game in which he was responsible for seven tackles, six interceptions, two clearances, and one blocked shot. Also, with 62 touches, Chandler saw more of the ball than any of his teammates.
As of this writing Eintracht has one of the shakiest defenses in the division, conceding 54 goals this term—on par with Werder Bremen.
Its capacity to leak goals is offset by its ability to score them at the other end—Alexander Meier currently being the league’s top scorer with 19. Only Bayern Munich and second-place VfL Wolfsburg have notched more.
A trip to play Pep Guardiola’s men at the Allianz Arena is next up on April 11. Beaten 4-0 on home turf in November by the reigning German champions, needless to say it’s going to be a big test for Chandler and Co.
Laura Greene is a frequent ASN contributor. Please follow her on Twitter.