On Thursday, German-based defender Timmy Chandler was among 22 players named to the U.S. national soccer team roster ahead of next week’s friendly against Mexico in Philadelphia.
On Friday, he was abruptly scratched from the list because, according to the U.S. Soccer Federation, he was “working back to full fitness after suffering an injury setback in advance of the start of the Bundesliga season.”
On Saturday, the German-American right back played 90 minutes in Nuremberg’s 1-0 victory at Hertha Berlin.
In assembling his first roster on short notice, new coach Juergen Klinsmann attempted to speak to each player. He didn’t make contact with Chandler or his manager, Dieter Hecking, until after the roster was made public early Thursday afternoon. By that evening, after conversing with Chandler and Hecking, Klinsmann decided to call in FC Dallas’s Zach Loyd instead.
“With the understanding that this was the start of the Bundesliga season and Timmy is trying to secure a starting job in his first full season, the [three] agreed he wouldn’t come in for this game,” USSF spokesman Michael Kammarman told the Insider.
Instead, Chandler and Hecking committed to both U.S. friendlies next month: against Costa Rica Sept. 2 in Carson, Calif., and four days later against Belgium in Brussels.
Although Chandler has been recovering from an injury, Klinsmann was told by Hecking that he would probably play today.
Inevitably, the sudden roster change led to speculation that Chandler was considering switching allegiances and playing for Germany. However, he has not said that, no one at the USSF is aware of it, and the commitment to both September friendlies is a strong indication that he is fully intent on playing for the Americans.
My take: Chandler, just 21, is worried about jeopardizing his starting status with Nuremberg, and with the Bundesliga season just getting under way, he didn’t want to fall out of favor. The USSF erred in emphasizing the injury when it announced Chandler had been dropped from the roster. In reality, a young player and his club coach thought he was better off staying with Nuremberg at this time instead of traveling a long distance for a friendly. Even though clubs are obligated to release players for matches on FIFA fixture dates, such as this one, Klinsmann agreed.