Steve Cherundolo back on the field, and that is one huge (and underrated) plus for United States

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A big talker among the Yanks abroad brigade last weekend was Clint Dempsey’s huge goal for Tottenham. Atta boy, Duece!

Brad Guzan was topical, too, as awards came a’tumbling his way and West Ham put the U.S. backup ‘keeper on its summer shopping list.

But here was one that fell through the media maven cracks just a bit – but a newsy bit that may be every bit as important in the bigger picture: Steve Cherundolo got back on the field for Hannover 96.

It’s an important development for the longtime U.S. incumbent right back, who was hurt for much of the spring, but did get healthy and back on the field before tumbling out of Die Roten lineup.

Cherundolo lost his place in the Hannover lineup after he was part of the team chewed up by the Bayern Munich machine back on April 20.

It certainly smarts to go down at home by a five-spot. The runaway Bundesliga champs battered Cherundolo’s club that day, 6-1. We mentioned that was in Hannover, right?

Still, that surely wasn’t Cherundolo’s fault. Still, he didn’t appear in the side’s next two matches, an important win at SpVgg Greuther Furth and then a disappointing draw at home to Mainz. He was on the bench for both of those, but appeared in neither.

So last weekend, good news arrived in Cherundolo’s appearance in the starting 11 in Hannover’s loss at Bayer Leverkusen. It marked massive disappointment for Cherundolo’s longtime club, whose Europa League hopes were extinguished for good last weekend at the Bay Arena.

But the silver lining for U.S. fans was getting a game for the veteran defender.

Considering Timothy Chandler’s injury, which depleted the U.S. outside back depth, and considering the youth of Klinsmann’s rebuilt back line, a fit and in-form Cherundolo would mean so much.

Whatever was made of Chandler’s injury and the bigger picture, Cherundolo was always the more important outside back heading into these three critical June qualifiers. He was probably Klinsmann’s first-choice right back all along. Cherundolo has historically been so easy to overlook, but anyone paying close attention can see how much he adds in knowing just when to press into the attack, and in skillful, well-considered crossing from the right side.

Independiente and Flamengo meet for South American trophy

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SAO PAULO (AP) Independiente, relegated for the first time in its history in 2013, can complete a remarkable turnaround by winning the Copa Sudamericana at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.

[ MORE: LA FC selects Urena, four others in MLS Expansion Draft ]

The Argentine team will go into the second leg of the final holding a 2-1 lead over Brazilian club Flamengo from the first leg.

Independiente, which has won multiple titles in South American tournaments, will be counting on 18-year-old midfielder Ezequiel Barco, one of the best players in this year’s competition.

Flamengo is also seeking to restore some pride in Rio de Janeiro. The big-spending Brazilian club, playing in its first Copa Sudamericana final, finished its domestic championship in a disappointing sixth place.

The Rio team will be without Peru striker Paolo Guerrero, who is serving a one-year doping ban.

Instead, veteran midfielder Diego will be the key player as Flamengo looks to claim its first regional title since winning the now-defunct Copa Mercosur in 1999.

After Independiente won the first leg, the club posted on its social media channels a picture of its players celebrating at the Maracana in 1995 when the two teams played for the Supercopa.

If the Argentines lose 1-0 on Wednesday, there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

Last year, Brazilian club Chapecoense was awarded the title before the final after 19 players, plus club directors and several members of staff, died in an air crash.

The Copa Sudamericana is the continent’s second most prestigious tournament after the Copa Libertadores.

Bundesliga wrap: Dortmund wins in Stoger’s managerial debut

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For the first time since late September, Borussia Dortmund has won a league match, while Leipzig’s slip up opens the door for Bayern Munich to extend its lead in Germany’s top flight.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, level on points with Man United ]

Here’s a brief look at all of Tuesday’s Bundesliga action.

Mainz 0-2 Borussia Dortmund

10 points separates Dortmund from league leaders Bayern Munich, who also have a match in hand, but for the moment, the bleeding his stopped. BVB picked up a crucial win on Tuesday to end its domestic woes upon manager Peter Stoger’s debut. The side’s drought stretched over an eight-match winless period. Second-half goals from Sokratis and Shinji Kagawa moved Dortmund into the top four, while Mainz remains 15th in the league table.

 

Wolfsburg 1-1 Red Bull Leipzig

Meanwhile, RB Leipzig’s form continues to slide downward after the second-place side dropped points in its fourth straight match across all competitions. The road side’s fortunes were dampened early on when Paul Verhaegh converted from the penalty spot, however, Marcel Halstenberg did manage to pull a goal back for Leipzig in the 52nd minute. Leipzig’s misfortunes carried on in stoppage time though when Dayot Upamecano was sent off after picking up his second yellow card of the day.


The rest of Tuesday’s scores

Hamburg 1-2 Frankfurt
Freiburg 1-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

Inter beats 3rd-division Pordenone 5-4 on penalties in Cup

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan scraped into the Italian Cup quarterfinals after the Serie A leader was taken to penalties by third-division Pordenone on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Huddersfield, moves level on points with Man United ]

Pordenone goalkeeper Simone Perilli pulled off several saves in regulation time to keep the game scoreless, and he almost proved to be the hero during the shootout, stopping two penalties.

But Inter prevailed 5-4, with Yuto Nagatomo tucking away the final spot kick.

Both sides hit the woodwork during the 120 minutes.

Inter coach Luciano Spalletti rang the changes, and only Milan Skriniar and Matias Vecino remained in the starting 11 from Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Juventus.

[ MORE: Burnley moves into top four after win over Stoke ]

However, he was forced by desperation to bring on Marcelo Brozovic at halftime as well as star forwards Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi.

Report: Cosmos coach Savarese to be named new Timbers manager

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In a time where NASL’s status moving forward is hanging in the balance, one of the league’s top managers is set to make the jump to Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: LA FC close to acquiring Red Bulls captain Sacha Kljestan ]

According to ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman, New York Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese is set to be named the next Portland Timbers manager.

Savarese will take over for the recently departed Caleb Porter, who stepped down from his head coaching role with the Timbers in November.

The former professional player spent five seasons in MLS during his career, including stints with the New York/New Jersey MetroStars (now the Red Bulls), as well as the New England Revolution and the San Jose Earthquakes.

The 46-year-old has managed the Cosmos from 2013 to present, and guided the NASL side to three Soccer Bowl titles in that span.