OBETZ, Ohio â On a day when Americans across the country exercised their right to vote, Timmy Chandler was preparing to once again represent the United States on the pitch. A player who has struggled to duplicate his club form with the national team, Chandler has also been hounded by the perception that he doesn’t take playing for the U.S. as seriously as his teammates do.
When asked if that perception makes him angry, the Eintracht Frankfurt defender took the high roadÂ and defended his dedication to playing for the U.S.
“It makes me laugh because we do everything for the national team,” Chandler told Goal on Tuesday. “We come here, we want to show how big soccer is in the U.S. We don’t come here for no reason. We want to do well in World Cups, want to play play well in tournaments, want to play good games. We show it as a whole teamÂ and I think it’s important that we come here and play with heart for this team.”
Part of the reason Chandler’s commitment has been questioned in the past is because of his struggles with the national team. The German-born defender chalked up those struggles, in part, to injuries that have either limited him or kept him from playing for the team. With the U.S. World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Costa Rica approaching, Chandler is healthy and a real contender to start.
“For the first timeÂ in a couple of yearsÂ now, I’m very fit comingÂ in with the national team,” Chandler said. “I’m just focused on the game on Friday. I want to play andÂ play very well for the U.S., and that’s important this week.
“I’ve carried some knocks, I’ve had two knee surgeries the past couple of years. This was a big problem,” he added. “Now I’m fit, and I just want to help the team. Whether I’m starting, or coming in (as a sub), I’ll give everything.”
Chandler is enjoying a strong start to the current Bundesliga season with Eintracht Frankfurt, playing well both as a right back and as a right wingback, depending on the setup being used at the time. He has helped Eintracht to a seventh-place start to the season, with the club’s defense currently fourth in the Bundesliga in goals allowed.
It was actually an injury that may have helped Chandler reach his current career-best form. Originally slated to be a part of the U.S. Copa America team, Chandler was eventually replaced due to a leg injury. Missing the Copa America allowed him to rest and take part in Eintracht Frankfurt’s lengthy preseason from the start.
“I had a good preseason, seven weeks with the coach,” Chandler said. “it was training hard, but he made every player very fit and this is an important thing for our team this year. He plays different systems and all are good for me, so it’s OK.
“For me, the seven-week preseason was very important, because the past couple of years I didn’t do preseason because of the World Cup and Gold Cup. I think this was important for me, to train every day and stay healthy and now I’m 100 percent. I feel good.
Chandler looks physically leaner than he has in the past, which may be a product of Eintracht’s demanding training regiment, but his increased fitness should help him compete for a starting role in two very tough qualiifers. He struggled in his lone World Cup-qualifying appearance, the 2-1 loss in Honduras in 2013, but that experience has him ready for the challenges that lie ahead in the Hex. He is fully aware just how tough those matches can be.
“In Germany, they think it’s easy to always fly to places like Costa Rica and play there or somewhere else,” Chandler said. “We know it’s very tough and it’s important that we know this.”
Chandler’s good formÂ and versatilityÂ make him a very good candidate to start on Friday, either at right back or left back. If he does start, he very well could go up against a club teammate in Mexican midfielder Marco Fabian, who is also enjoying a strong run of form at Eintracht Frankfurt.
“Maybe that will happen. I hope it does,” Chandler said of potentially facing Fabian. “I know him very well. He’s good and also playing well at the moment. I want to show up against him and hopefully it’s a good game.”
Whether he faces Fabian, or Jesus Corona or any other of Mexico’s dangerous attackers, Chandler is in good form and ready for the challenges El Tri will present. Ultimately, it will be his play that puts to rest any lingering belief that he isn’t fully committed to the national team, and there is a good chance that opportunity will come for him in the coming week.