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Cherundolo: “It’s definitely a goal of mine” to go to Brazil with USMNT

Steve Cherundolo

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When U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann qualified for the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying last October, he probably didn’t think he would have to do it without his veteran right back Steve Cherundolo.

Fast-forward twelve months and Cherundolo is just returning to fitness after his third knee surgery of the calendar year, which has kept him away from the USMNT in the same time span. The Hannover captain and fan favorite made his 300th appearance in the Bundesliga for the club last May and is hoping to add to that total in the next couple of weeks.

“I’ve been training with [Hannover] for two weeks,” Cherundolo told U.S. Soccer in an interview. “There has been some improvement on a day-to-day basis. There are still some things I need to sharpen up on. Passing in tight space where the game gets quick and you have to move fast, those are things you lose over a certain amount of time when you’re off the field. Those are things you have to gain back on a daily basis.

“The next step for me is getting back on the field in a match. There’s only so much you can do in training. Match fitness, match situations and scenarios are very important as well and those are the things I’m missing at this time.”

Cherundolo hasn’t played a competitive match since that 300th appearance in May against Fortuna Dusseldorf, but he could have taken part in the USMNT’s World Cup qualifying matches in June before deciding that he’d be better off letting his body rest after a long time spent rehabbing.

“The biggest reason I took last summer off was to try to get back to 100 percent and to my level of play that I’m used to,” admitted Cherundolo. “It’s one of those sad truths that no athlete wants to admit, but you do get older and things start to hurt and start to wear down. I feel really good now after the successful surgery. I feel we have the problem solved, and I’m getting back to normal strength.”

Despite the injuries, Cherundolo still has his long-term aim on playing for the USA at the World Cup next summer in Brazil. A veteran of the 2002 (though he didn’t play), 2006, and 2010 World Cups, the former Portland Pilot has been a mainstay in the USMNT backline since 2005.

Without his presence in the Hexagonal, Klinsmann went with a number of right back options including Fabian Johnson, Michael Orozco, Geoff Cameron, Michael Parkhurst, and the current choice Brad Evans. However, Cherundolo admits that if he is healthy and can convince the coaches that he can help the team, he has his sights set on being one of the 23 men that jet off to South America next June.

“Anybody who has ever been to a World Cup knows how special it is, how awesome it is,” said Cherundolo. “If that’s something I have a chance to participate in, if I can help the team and the coaching staff deems me that guy who can help either on the field or off the field then I would love to go to Brazil. It’s definitely a goal of mine and if I can stay healthy it’s something I can achieve as well.”


What do you think of this interview? Do you see Cherundolo playing for the USMNT next month? Do you feel that Klinsmann would let him return to the squad despite all the time missed due to injury? As of today, would you have Cherundolo on your World Cup squad?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. It’s good to have goals. If Dolo is healthy, fit, and playing great- I don’t see why he wouldn’t be in Brazil for THE CUP…

  2. While I’m a huge fan of Dolo, and appreciate what he has contributed over the years, he has been off the field for a long time. He’ll need to prove (though his club games) that he is capable of contributing on the field for the USMNT.
    As of now, through their performances, Beasley & Evans are the starting outside backs. The question is can/will someone step up and overtake them in the next 6-7 months. Talent wise (tangibles – speed, technical skill, strength, etc…), if everyone is 100% healthy, I’d put rank the backs as follows (for JK’s system):
    RB: Dolo, Chandler, Lichaj, Evans, Cameron, Parkhurst, Yedlin/Ferrell
    LB: F. Johnson, Lichaj, Beasley, Castillo, Chandler, Klute (sp?)
    The intangible aspects (heart/desire, team chemistry, IQ, etc…) are harder to measure.
    IMO both F. Johnson & Cameron are already on the team due to their abilities at multiple possitions (Johnson – LM, LB, RB & Cameron – CB, CDM, RB) where they represent greater ability than the other options. Unless someone can unseat them at these other positions they can be ignored in the back discussion.
    For the November friendlies I’d like to see Chandler, Lichaj, Beasley, & Evans all brought in. Then the coaches can get a side by side comparison of the likely top 3 at each outside back spot to see how they stack up (too soon for Dolo). 2014 will be about refining the top 33 players into a cohesive unit, and working out tactics/stratigies to defeat the teams we are drawn with for the Group phase of the WC.

  3. I think a healthy Dolo is the first choice for RB for the USMNT. I am sure Dolo ijot s perfect, but his play prior to this year was better than any other USMNT options at RB. If he recovers fully, he will be in Brazil, if not, then it depends upon how much he has lost.

    That said, at 35 yo he is not going to recover from the inevitable knocks players take as quickly as when he was younger. So even if he is 100% at the start of Brazil, the need for a very close 2nd choice is essential for the US’s success.

  4. Best case scenerio is Chandler and Lichaj battling out for.the starting role and Dolo going for veteran leadership for the backline.

  5. Best case scenario? He gets healthy, Chandler has a come to Jesus moment, Parkhurst gets a winter transfer, Lichaj and Spector get a call up and all of them get some time to prove their level in a camp and friendly. I like Beasely, Castillo, Fabian Johnson, and Cameron as options, but I’d love to enter May 2014 with a bit more depth and a few more play-proven options than what we currently have.

    • I agree with giving some of these people chances. The problem is the team needs cohesion as well. If given a chance the players on this will have to REALLY impress. Being in good club form can only do so much for a defender. It’s not like a forward on a scoring streak.

      I especially would like to see Spector given a look-see. I haven’t followed Lichaj so closely but every time I check out a game of his he seems to be having a bad one (ok this is only 5 game sample size). Spector has played well at international level in the past and like Cameron can be a stop gap at a number of positions but his crossing ability is what puts him on my list of let’s see. Dolo is #1 on that list though.

  6. hey Stevie…

    Yes it is special going to a World Cup… but it’s is time to move on… youve represented the US at two World Cups, but now 35yr old, two major knee-surgeries, foot surgery, slower by two steps… why would you shoot but a third World Cup?… please let others have the same opportunity and let them have at least one World Cup if they are at 100%.

    Dolo’s football smarts is above many US defenders… but he is unreliable, injury-prone…. he started the game and played just about 25 minutes in the 2011 Gold Cup before he got substituted due to an injury…. we were ahead 2-0, we lost 4-2 to Mexico….

    Dolo actually played in Klinsmanns first friendly game ever as the USMNT coach against Mexico. Dolo did poorly against Guardado and Dos santos… you dont confuse them with elite attackers but still managed to give Dolo lots of trouble… and Dolo was “100%”

    Stevie, happy to know you’ll make the Hall Of Fame… thanks for the memories…

    • You may have a point. At 35 he is a bit long on the tooth. I’m pulling for him to get back in game shape but like you stated, is not like he got injured while he was playing at his best.
      The next few months we should have a better idea.

    • “let them have at least one World Cup”

      Ah, so it’s a charity event? All this time I thought it was a competition.

    • I’d rather the best player for the job get the ticket to Brazil. If that’s Steve, great. If not, great and thanks for the memories. I’m tired though of people telling us he’s done due to age or surgeries. Watch him play a bit when he gets back on the field before you make your decision. That’s what Klinsmann is going to do.

  7. I really like Cherundolo on the right side playing both ways. He makes his runs from RB count. If healthy, I don’t think he only helps at RB, I think he also makes the RM’s (Donovan, Bedoya, Zusi) job easier. He can open up a lot of space for them. If he’s on the plane it will surely help are attack as much as our back line.

  8. I’m thrilled that Cherundolo is on his feet again. I really want him to start in Brazil, his experience and leadership is priceless.

  9. Thank goodness! Much better player than Evans and Parkhurst. If they bring in Lichaj as a reserve this defense is much improved!

  10. Dolo will start for the national team as long as he’s healthy. Even at 70% of form, he’s still better than all of our other options.

    Having said that, I really hope Chandler and Klinsmann get things straight. Coach said he’s still an option for Brazil before the Panama game…

    • Yep. Well, don’t know about the 70 percent thing, but Dolo at his best is our best RB. I’d go with the notion that Johnson at 70 percent is still our best LB.

    • “Even at 70% of form, he’s still better than all of our other options.”

      I read these percentage comparisons all the time and find them unconvincing.

      My question to you is what makes you think 70% is good enough?
      Where is the percentage subtracted from? His speed? His strength? His stamina? His ball control? His soccer “brain” i.e his decision making is 30% weaker? His reaction time is 30% slower?

      To me a guy like that doesn’t not belong on the field in a professional game.

      Let’s say Dolo’s backup was 90% of the player Dolo was. Now that the backup is playing regularly maybe he is up to 95%. If Dolo is 70% of his best he is still 25% less of a player than his replacement so why would the manager play Dolo?

      And if he is on the Hannover bench I don’t see JK taking him to Brazil. JK has already said he isn’t taking anyone who isn’t healthy enough to play a lot of tough games back to back like they do in the World Cup. So Dolo will have to be 100% and back to his best.

      • You make a good point, but surely the answer in Dolo’s case is: 70% speed and, in the context of a tournament, stamina in later rounds. While I agree that he has to be playing for Hannover to be considered for Brazil, I disagree that he needs to be back to 100%.

        If we compare Dolo to his backups, he still secures one of the 23 spots:

        Evans: Dolo’s 70% speed is as fast as Evans’ 100%, and while Evans is smart Dolo is far smarter on defense. Dolo’s passing—especially crosses into the box or corners—is as good as our best (Bradley, Zusi, etc.).

        Chandler: stronger and faster than Dolo ever was, but what else? He’s proven unreliable for club and country. (Hopefully, for his sake, it’s just mental slump that he will work out.) Would I take Chandler over Dolo? Let’s just say that they both have a lot to prove over the next several months, but Chandler has more to prove and his issues are harder to prove.

        Parkhurst: ranked lower than Evans by Klinsmann. I don’t see how he changes that in the coming months.

        Spector: the dark horse. Picked the wrong time to fracture his face, or I think he’d have locked a spot. Now let’s see if he can even get on Jurgen’s radar. Granted, I saw amazing promise the last time he played for USMNT.

        Lichaj: speaking of Jurgen-dar. I won’t bother discussing him until Klinsmann does.

        Cameron: oh he’ll go to Brazil, but not as a RB. He’ll go as a “plug him in wherever needed.” In other words, making it that much less risky to bring Cherundolo.

        Add leadership—on the field and in the locker room—and you have a very compelling case for taking Cherundolo to Brazil. (If, I’ll say it again, if he is playing for Hannover.)

      • KG Eye,

        Apparently, I haven’t made my point well enough. Let me try again.

        A sub par Dolo may be fine for the US but may not be fine for Hannover. Hannover are not a minor league team owned by the USMNT. They have their own priorities and have no obligation to ease Dolo into the lineup just to benefit the USMNT.

        And the only way Dolo can prove he is worth taking a risk on is to be on the field regularly for Hannover as soon as possible for as long as possible. And as I said before that won’t happen unless he beats out the guy in front of him.

        Don’t get me wrong I want Dolo in Brazil but the single most powerful strike against him is can he take the grind?

        A healthy Evans/Parkhurst/Spector/warm body beats a limping Dolo every time.

        No one wants another 2010 Gooch, i.e on the field but operating at 70% and losing effectiveness each game until he had to be sat down.

      • GW: yes, that makes more sense. Essentially, you are not questioning Dolo’s ability versus other USMNT options. You are questioning whether or not Dolo will get playing time.

        Thus, your question is not “Is Dolo our best option?” your question is, “Will Dolo be playing before Brazil?” And I think you’ll agree that if he’s playing—either at Hannover or on loan—he will be our first option regardless of whether he has slipped to 90%, 80%, or even 70% of his former speed or stamina (the other aspects of his game should not be diminished by his age).

        Re Gooch: something tells me Dolo is no Gooch. Gooch’s problem wasn’t and isn’t in his legs.

      • I have to say I didn’t expect such a response from my comment. In any case, I won’t rehash what has already been stated here. I’ll say that as for the 70% remark, it was meant as a very general, overall performance measure, not a reflection of health. Obviously, if the guy can’t play properly due to injury, he needs to be left off of the field. I thought my first sentence made that clear, but I guess not…

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