BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, January 26, 2011
As the second half of the Bundesliga season is now underway, one of the more surprising stories has been American Timothy Chandler who has broken into the first team at FC Nurnberg.
Chandler, 20, arrived at Nurnberg last summer prior to playing for the Under-23 team at Eintracht Frankfurt. But after beginning the season with four goals in first half of the season, his fortunes changed.
"Everything is working out well," Chandler told YA through an interpreter. "It's a great decision to play for Nurnberg. I got here in June 2010 and was playing with the youth teams. Prior to that, I was at Eintracht Frankfurt and played for the U23s. In October, [Nurnberg head coach Dieter Hecking] saw me and gave me a lot of positive feedback. It boosted my confidence and gave me a feeling of stability."
Following his meeting with the first team coaching staff in October, Chandler's season began to take off when he was invited to train for their camp at winter break in Turkey.
It was there that Chandler made his first appearance with the first team in a friendly against Genclerbirligi of the Super Lig, the top league in Turkey.
"This was an incredible experience for me in Turkey," Chandler recalled. "It was the first time I went with the first team for training and everything went well. The team has integrated me well and I felt part of the team right from the start. I learned a lot on that trip."
Chandler has also enjoyed a positional switch this season at Nurnberg, one-time home of former US international Tony Sanneh. Prior to this season when at Eintracht Frankfurt and during his youth career, he was an attacking player usually playing at forward. Since joining Nurnberg, the coaches have moved him and he likes the results.
"Before I got to Nurnberg, I was never a defensive player," Chandler explained. "Now I've made the move to right back but sometimes I play defensive midfield."
Immediately after the Bundesliga season resumed, Chandler made the first team bench for Nurnberg in their game against Borussia Monchengladbach but was an unused substitute.
His competitive debut came the next week in a German Cup match against OFC Kickers where entered into the game as an 85th minute substitute, helping Nurnberg preserve a 2-0 win. The following week he made two appearances, including his Bundesliga debut when he entered as a substitute in a 1-1 draw with Freiburg, and later, the final 35 minutes in a 2-1 extra time loss to Schalke 04 in the German Cup.
With his playing time steadily increasing, Chandler is optimistic about seeing more playing time the rest of the season and he has goals to break into the starting lineup.
"I want to get much playing time as I possibly can," Chandler pointed out. "I think anything is possible and I hope to start soon. I have improved tremendously since I got to the first team."
Chandler's emergence with a Bundesliga team has also brought about the issue of his international future and which country he would like to represent.
Chandler was born in Frankfurt and is the son of a German mother and American father who was born in New York and served in the US military. Shortly after Timothy was born his parents separated and he lived with his mother.
In addition to his German availability, Chandler holds a US passport and says that his interest is stronger for the US than playing for his native nation, noting that he has yet to play for either country.
"I would love to play for the United States and I am interested in playing in for the US national team more than I am interested in the German national team," Chandler revealed. "But first thing is that I need to get more experience with Nurnberg."
Part of the reason why Chandler is interested in playing for the United States is that he was impressed with how the team played at the last World Cup. He watched all of their games and was struck by how much the team has improved in recent years.
Chandler also knows that he US team can continue to improve and hopes to be part of taking the team to the next level at either the World Cup or the Olympics for which is eligible in 2012.
"I followed the US national team at the last World Cup and I was extremely impressed with how much they've improved," Chandler concluded. "They have gotten a lot better in past years and I think they can still improve."
FC Nurnberg currently sit in 12th place in the German Bundesliga with 23 points with a 6-5-8 record. Chandler and Nurnberg will hope to move into the top 10 in the standings this Saturday when they host sixth place Hamburg.