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U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo nearing a return to the field for Hannover

Oct 23, 2013, 6:25 PM EDT

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Think for a second how much a healthy Steve Cherundolo would improve the wobbly outside back position for the United States national team.

Fabian Johnson started at right back last month as the United States clinched its spot in Brazil against Mexico. Johnson was OK … but he’s not a right back. He’s really a left back or, probably even better, a left midfielder. But Johnson manned the right back position that day because … well, obviously, the coaching staff adjudged that the best option.

DaMarcus Beasley is holding his own at left back. But is “holding your own” what a team really needs going into a World Cup? Probably not.

If Cherundolo can get completely healthy and layer in the requisite sharpness, he stabilizes the right while Johnson becomes an option on the left – and other guys starting at right back find their truer international level as backups.

(MORE: U.S. roster examinations … which defenders are going to Brazil?)

Well, Cherundolo is getting closer. He’s been training for two weeks now at Hannover and may get back on the field soon.

The longtime incumbent at U.S. right back, now 34 years old, talks about his injury struggles (going on for almost 12 months now, off and on) and about getting back onto Jurgen Klinsmann’s radar in a Q&A with U.S. Soccer.

Remember, Cherundolo talked to Klinsmann and the U.S. coaching staff early last summer, asking to be excused from World Cup qualifier and potential Gold Cup duty to heal up. It sounds like that was the best move for all.

Still, Cherundolo knows that getting back into the national team is no slam dunk, and that public discussion of it needs careful management. His words seem carefully selected, because Cherundolo understands how he could come across, presumptuous, appearing to dismiss how other guys were there during a big stretch of the qualifying campaign, getting the job done.

Anybody who has ever been to a World Cup knows how special it is, how awesome it is. 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.”

  1. Cinko - Oct 23, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    He actually started and played 45 minutes in a friendly last week. Scored a PK as well.

    35 is very old to be starting at Left Back in a World Cup though. Fabio Cannavaro was the oldest defender to play in the 2010 WC at age 36, and CB requires significantly less speed than Left Back. While Cherundolo is solid, he is no Cannavaro.

    Dolo’s form will have to be nothing short of spectacular over the next 8 months for him to have a real chance.

    • danielofthedale - Oct 23, 2013 at 11:03 PM

      You are asking the wrong question he does not have to be Cannavro, he has to be better than Brad Evans. He was better than Brad by a good distance before the injures started this time last year. If he is playing regularly for Hannover the rest of the season and is healthy come May I fully expect him to be the starter at RB and to be the best option to boot.

      • Cinko - Oct 23, 2013 at 11:07 PM

        My point was you have to be as good as Cannavaro to play in a WC at 35-36 years old. But you’re right, it would not take much for him to be our best option. I blogged about this last week and gave Dolo a 40% chance of making the team, and if he makes it, it’s as the starting RB.

      • schmutzdeck - Oct 24, 2013 at 12:07 AM

        DOD,

        Evans is not the issue.

        Dolo has to be better than whoever his replacement is at Hannover.

        If he’s not, he won’t play regularly. And if he doesn’t do that he won’t get to the level of sharpness he needs. And he will not be able to show JK that he has the fitness necessary to be able to play the tough schedule the World Cup demands. JK can’t afford to have him play one game and then break down. JK has already said he won’t bring anyone whose fitness they think is suspect.

        Which makes it tough for guys with fitness issues like Gooch, Gatt, Holden, Edu and Dolo

    • bear06 - Oct 24, 2013 at 2:08 AM

      He’s a right back not a left back but I agree that Dolo will be too old and slow to be playing in the Wrold Cup next summer.

  2. granadafan - Oct 23, 2013 at 7:53 PM

    Would love to see someone with Cherunaldo’s experience to help calm the guys down so they’re not so starry eyed on the field as we’ve seen often.

  3. jimmycrackcorn99 - Oct 23, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    You really have to wonder. The defense has been the crux of most of our problems. The offense has stepped up and we have been able to score one more than the other team. In WC play, I am not sure about scoring 2+ goals per game. An experienced defender might be just what this team needs, God knows we have tried every other possible defensive combination with limited success.

  4. hildezero - Oct 23, 2013 at 10:02 PM

    When did Cherundolo get injured?…

  5. schmutzdeck - Oct 23, 2013 at 11:53 PM

    “Fabian Johnson started at right back last month as the United States clinched its spot in Brazil against Mexico. Johnson was OK … but he’s not a right back. He’s really a left back or, probably even better, a left midfielder. But Johnson manned the right back position that day because… well, obviously, the coaching staff adjudged that the best option.”

    Fabian played one entire season at rightback and right midfield for Hoffenhiem before switching to left back for them and the USMNT. He’s also played right back for the US before.

    • bear06 - Oct 24, 2013 at 2:15 AM

      What the hell are you talking about? Fabian has never played RB for Hoffenheim, he only played at RM like twice last season. He has played at left back and left midfield for most of his pro career so far.

    • bear06 - Oct 27, 2013 at 7:34 PM

      You said he played one entire season at RM and RM for Hoffenheim which is a load of BS if you actually watch Bundesliga/Hoffenheim games. The truth is that he has only played at LB, LM and about 2 games at RM in the last 2 seasons for Hoffenheim.

  6. rok41 - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    Right back is a glaring weakness for the US Men’s Team and it will be great if Cherundolo is fit and in good form by WC 2014. While Evans has had his moments, he is a liability at the WC level due mainly to his lack of speed. Fabian is excellent at left mid but with Zusi and Donovon’s ability to play either outside mid, Fabian may be the best choice at left back.

    • bear06 - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:53 PM

      If Donovan starts at the WC which he probably will then I think Zusi will probably be in the bench.

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