Timothy Chandler, the young attacking midfielder for 1. FC Nurnberg, has made a splash since getting first team play in the new year. Born in Frankfurt, Chandler is the son of an American serviceman and German mother. Having expressed an interest in playing for the United States men’s national team, Chandler looks to follow in the footsteps of fellow German-Americans Thomas Dooley and Jermaine Jones.
Chandler, who will turn 21 in March, has been gently eased into Nurnberg’s starting lineup in 2011 by veteran coach Dieter Hecking. After beginning his career in 2008 with Entracht Frankfurt II, Chandler signed with Der Club last summer and played in 16 matches with the reserve team in the fall. Coming out of winter break, Hecking had plans for Chandler and had him on the bench for their second half restart against Borussia Monchengladbach, although Chandler didn’t see action. Hecking used him as a substitute in Nurnberg’s Pokal Cup win over OFC Kickers on January 19, and gradually began giving Chandler more time on the field.
Chandler’s first start came on MatchDay 22 against VfB Stuttgart at the MercedesBenz Arena, and the young midfielder made the most of the opportunity, slotting home a Julian Schieber cross for his first Bundesliga goal in Der Club’s in a 4-1 demolishing of Stuttgart. Chandler went 75 minutes in his first start, but this past Friday started again and went the entire 90 in Nurnberg’s handy 3-0 win over a reeling Eintracht Frankfurt.
Coincidence or not, Nurnberg have scored seven goals and only allowed one since Chandler’s insertion into the starting lineup. The club has been on a great run of form in 2011, vaulting forward into the eighth spot in the Bundesliga table, only two points away from a European berth next season. Nurnberg haven’t lost in league play since Chandler began getting playing time against SC Freiburg on January 22. No doubt that USMNT Coach Bob Bradley and the U.S. Soccer Federation have taken notice.
If Chandler’s dream to play internationally for the United States comes true, he will be tracing some large footsteps. In the early 1990’s, the USSF were looking for talented, experienced players to man their 1994 World Cup squad to be hosted in the U.S. Poring over foreign club rosters looking for “American” names, they came across a ‘Thomas Dooley’ on the FC Kaiserslautern roster, where Dooley had been part of a Bundesliga championship side in 1990-1991.
Sure enough, Dooley’s father was an American serviceman, and he was persuaded to obtain U.S. citizenship and play for the USMNT. Joining the USMNT in 1992, Dooley played every minute of the 1994 World Cup, helping the fledgling U.S. side get out of the group stage. Dooley captained the 1998 U.S. World Cup side and made 81 appearances for the red, white and blue,, and also starred in the nascent MLS with the NY MetroStars and Columbus Crew. Dooley was elected to the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame in 2010.
More recently, German-American Jermaine Jones decided to play internationally for the U.S. Taking advantage of a change in FIFA rules, Jones, who had already appeared on German international youth teams, successfully petitioned to play for the USMNT. The former Schalke and Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder has been held back by injuries, and was unable to compete for a spot on the USMNT’s 2010 World Cup roster. Since then, though, Jones, now playing for Blackburn Rovers, has made two appearances for the U.S. in 2010 in friendlies against Poland and Colombia. The 29 year-old is expected to play a major role for the U.S. squad in the future if he can remain healthy.
Chandler’s career in top-flight football is just beginning, and as a midfielder he faces a great deal of competition for a spot on the U.S. team. The midfield is undoubtedly the strength of the U.S. squad, with Landon Donovan a fixture along with EPL stars Clint Dempsey and Stuart Holden. Also in the EPL now are Jones and former Borussia Monchengladbach player Michael Bradley, a USMNT regular who joined Aston Villa during the January transfer window. Eintracht Frankfurt’s Ricardo Clark also has a great deal of experience playing in the U.S. midfield, along with Rangers’ Maurice Edu and Hannover’s DaMarcus Beasley.
But without doubt, if Chandler continues his progress at Nurnberg, the youngster will get an opportunity for the U.S. team. Coach Bob Bradley hasn’t been shy at giving new players a chance to shine.