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Americans in Europe

Timothy Chandler Bursts Out of Bundesliga Gates

The 23-year-old German-American has had an up-and-down year for both club and country, but his performance against Hoffenheim on Saturday definitely raised a few eyebrows.

BY Brian Sciaretta Posted
January 27, 2014
8:12 PM
BEYOND TIMOTHY CHANDLER, this week’s look at the best American performances in Europe features something old (Oguchi Onyewu, 31); something new (recent Duke graduate Sebastien Ibeagha); something borrowed (Andrew Wooten, on loan to Frankfurt); and something blue (Will Packwood, a central defender for Birmingham City—nicknamed “the Blues”).

No. 5: Sebastien Ibeagha

After electing not to sign with the Houston Dynamo following his standout NCAA career at Duke, former U.S. U-20 central defender Sebastien Ibeagha is making a push to start his career abroad. He is now on trial at Aalborg BK, and he has impressed. Over the weekend he played in two friendlies for the second place team in the Danish Superliga; both were 2-0 wins.

During his two games on trial, Ibeagha earned the praise of Aalborg head coach Kent Nielsen and the club’s official Twitter feed said he made a favorable impression. It’s asking a lot for an NCAA player to go straight to Europe and win plaudits for a top-division club, but Ibeagha has apparently seized the moment.

No. 4: Andrew Wooten

The second half of the 2.Bundesliga season is not yet underway but American forward Andrew Wooten could prove to be an impact player in the months ahead after joining FSV Frankfurt on loan from Kaiserslautern. While the 24-year-old has struggled to earn minutes for Kaiserslautern over the years, he has excelled for its reserve team and when given the chance on loan. Last year was a bright spot for him at 2.Bundesliga club Sandhausen.

On Saturday’s winter break friendly against 1860 Munich, Wooten scored a second-half stoppage-time winner for FSV Frankfurt, giving his club a 1-0 victory. Following goals against Wehen and Mainz, his game-winner against 1860 is the third preseason game he has scored for FSV since joining the club earlier this month.

No. 3: Will Packwood

Despite bowing out of the FA Cup on Saturday in a 2-1 loss to Swansea, there was a silver lining for Birmingham City: American defender Will Packwood started and went the full 90 in the defeat. The effort marks the first time Packwood has played for the Blues following a horrific broken leg suffered in an FA Cup match against Leeds in January 2013. That injury cost Packwood the rest of the season and ended his dreams of playing for the U.S at the U-20 World Cup.

Packwood was able to return to the field in late 2013 while on loan with League Two Bristol Rovers but this past weekend marked his first time back for the Championship-level club. With the injury now in the distant past, Packwood can now focus on becoming a regular starter for Birmingham City and will look to play key role on the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.

No. 2: Oguchi Onyewu

It may seem like ages ago, but at the start of 2009 Oguchi Onyewu was one of the best American defenders of all time. He dominated Belgium with Standard Liege and secured a transfer to AC Milan. All that changed, however, in the second half of the U.S.’s final World Cup qualifier in 2009. Onyewu suffered an injury to his left patellar tendon in his knee and has never quite looked the same.

Onyewu’s move to Queens Park Rangers to start of the 2013-14 season looked promising, but he failed to play a single minute during his time there. Onyewu landed at another English Championship side, Sheffield Wednesday, a club hoping to avoid relegation to England’s third tier. So far it’s been going very well.

On Saturday Onyewu scored for Sheffield Wednesday in a 2-1 FA Cup win over Rochdale. This important goal came on the heels of his Man of the Match performance against Burnley in his Sheffield Wednesday debut.

Will it be enough to get him back into the U.S. national team picture? Nobody knows at this stage but either way, it is a great story that one of the best American defenders ever is back on the field finding success.

No. 1: Timothy Chandler

Everyone knows Timothy Chandler is an enigma. He starts in the Bundesliga but has fallen completely out of favor with U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Does Klinsmann simply not rate the fullback, or is there more to the story?

Either way, the calls for Chandler to be included on the national team before the World Cup are likely to grow louder after the German-American’s stellar outing on Saturday. Nurnberg entered the game winless on the season but managed to pound Hoffenheim 4-0, with Chandler scoring the opening goal on a deflected shot from distance.

Chandler was so impressive, in fact, that both Kicker Magazine and Who Scored named him to their Bundesliga teams of the week. The selections were fully justified, as Chandler looked like the same player who took the league by storm in 2011.

Chandler’s return to form is not a complete surprise. Still just 23, Chandler has now had time to adjust to Gertjan Verbeek, a coach who has successfully worked with Americans Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley. Regardless of what is going on behind the scenes of the national team, an athlete can always play well enough to force a coach to take notice. Perhaps Chandler can both save his club from relegation and force his way onto the World Cup team in the months ahead.

Brian Sciaretta is an American Soccer Now columnist and an ASN 100 panelist. Follow him on Twitter.

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