Timmy Chandler: Still may, or may not, play for the United States

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Over at Soccer By Ives, Franco Panizo talks with erstwhile American national team member Timmy Chandler (much to the chagrin of at least one person).

The talented, 22-year-old right back who has spurned the Americans in recent months, but he tells Panizo he’s not writing off the Stars and Stripes.

“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. 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,” he says, admitting that he and Klinsmann stay in constant contact.

Chandler’s non-commitment has frustrated American fans, who want him to fish or cut bait. That’s an understandable perception, but try to see it from his position:

  1. Chandler has few ties to the United States. His American father left Chandler’s mother when he was young, and he continued to live with her.
  2. His first priority is his club team, you know, the place that plays his salary and determines much more of his future success than a place on the American team will. “I wanted to show Nurnberg that I’m thankful for what I’ve achieved in my time with the team so far,” he tells Panizo.
  3. The American team will continue to be there for the time being.

The third point is the most important.

American fans can complain all they want, but their opinion doesn’t matter. Until Klinsmann shuts the door or issues an ultimatum, Chandler will have the option of playing for the Red, White, and Blue. The door, quite clearly, remains very much open. Talent, especially as much as Chandler has, will do that for a player. Chandler understands. Klinsmann understands. The American players understand.

The battle between club and country is a never-ending one. In Chandler’s current situation, the club is winning. And that’s fine. Honestly, it should. Right now, Chandler is better off staying at Nuremberg, establishing his position, and helping that team. The U.S. will still be around come October and, probably, beyond. (Chandler says he hasn’t heard from Germany, which, if it’s true, puts to rest the speculation that he is holding out to play for them.)

Chandler is a young man stuck with a difficult decision. Rather than begrudging him for not flying to Florida, then Kingston, then Columbus, Ohio, American fans should root for his success in Germany and let him make up his mind in do time.

(That said, maybe a phone call from Terrence “Captain America” Boyd might help Chandler make up his mind quicker.)