Postcard from Europe: 5 others like Chandler US must cap
AMSTERDAM – With Timothy Chandler expected to receive his first US cap in a competitive game on Wednesday, many observers will breathe a deep sigh of relief. It won't be the last great exhale.
The Postcard never doubted the FC Nürnberg right-sider's loyalty, despite his turning down cap-tying World Cup qualifying calls to focus on improving his club form. But for a soccer country that's been burned by dual-nationals turning the other way, the trepidation that arrives when another has yet to stamp their FIFA passport makes sense.
Whether a certain player ends up in and on our side, the rattling of supporter nerves is always real. With that in mind, we're here with five more talented "slash-Americans" for everyone to fret over (or not) until they pledge their allegiance.
Liverpool's 20-year-old smooth finisher loves to run splitting lanes and uses his shoulder well in traffic. Bijev has enjoyed his first pro coffee cups with Fortuna Düsseldorf and current loan employers IK Start. He has six months left on that stay before filing for a UK work permit.
Expected anxiety level: There shouldn't be much unless he fails to climb the US ladder from a crowded youth stable of forwards. Bijev, who rejected a Bulgaria Under-21 call last year, has made six appearances for US youth national teams.
Imagine the consistency and leadership of Michael Bradley, but with more playmaking skills. Though a member of the Bayern Munich reserves, Hürzeler (above) has begun training at times with the first team. A fine technical player with decent speed, the 19-year-old has donned the captain's armband at multiple levels in the FC Hollywood system.
Expected anxiety level: This could end up being more of an "ah, if only" situation, but it could also conceivably end up a nail-biter. Hürzeler says he's open to a USMNT future and hasn't been called by Germany since 2011. Could Klinsmann's influence make a difference? We shall see, but this kid looks like he'd be a major get.
JOHN ANTHONY BROOKS
This tall and mobile center back (right) is likely the closest of the five here to actually warranting a call from Jurgen Klinsmann. There have been a few rough outings among his first 16 games of 2.Bundesliga action, but Brooks has largely performed solidly this season for a Hertha Berlin team chasing the title and/or promotion.
Expected anxiety level: Perhaps a little is fair. His first four international outings were for the US Under-20 sides, but Brooks also played one for Germany. Still, he's on record as saying his preference is to suit up in red, white and blue.
The fresh AZ Alkmaar catch was reeled in with the expectation that he could eventually step in for Jozy Altidore, who is expected to be hot on the summer market. Born in Alabama, the 22-year-old was leading the Danish Superliga in goals before making the Eredivisie switch. What sets Jóhannsson apart? His calmness on the final two touches, the tee-up and shot.
Expected anxiety level: Very little, though not for the good reason. Johansson accepted an Iceland call-up for recent World Cup qualifiers, but missed out with a knock. It ain't over until it's over, but it seems only a matter of time before this one's done.
After running out of contract with Hertha Berlin II last summer, the forward rejected a stay to ink a four-year pro deal with Stuttgart. The 19-year-old's game and body-type is a bit similar to that of Tony Taylor, only Kiesewetter is three inches taller. While no stranger to playing the right wing, he'd probably be best served by a two-striker set.
Expected anxiety level: Not much, considering Kiesewetter told The New York Times last year that his main concern was helping the US qualify for the 2013 Under-20 World Cup.