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.

PODCAST: Bob Bradley talks MLS past, USMNT

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Scott Nicholls and Otis Earle welcomed Bob Bradley to their “Beyond The Pitch” podcast to discuss his time coaching the Chicago Fire, the Fire’s current squad, how MLS has evolved, the new generation of players coming into the USMNT and more.

Perhaps most interesting is Bradley talking about previous losses with stinging emotion that sounds like they happened yesterday, including the 2000 MLS Cup.

[ MORE: Latest Men In Blazers pod ]

Since being fired from Swansea City after less than 100 days, Bradley has been linked with the Norway national team gig as well as a return to Los Angeles. Keep up with the U.S. coach here, and check it out:

U.S. Open Cup preview: Which underdog has best odds?

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Every dog has its day, and the three lower-tier clubs remaining in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup are hoping for a second.

Miami FC, Sacramento Republic, and FC Cincinnati enjoyed wins over Major League Soccer sides in the fourth round, and now get further MLS tests in this week’s fifth round.

[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]

Once FC Dallas and Colorado Rapids tangle on Tuesday, attention turns to the underdogs on Wednesday. Who has the best chance to advance?

  1. Miami FC vs. Atlanta United — Playing an MLS expansion side at Riccardo Silva Stadium will give Miami a bit of confidence, and this is also a side with some good experience in pressure spots. Whether it’s manager Alessandro Nesta or MLS vets Michel, Gabriel Farfan, and Michael Lahoud, MFC won’t shy away. Upset chance: Solid.
  2. FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire — The visitors are having a heck of a season in MLS and don’t have a group which will be worried by a huge crowd, but there’s no debating that 25,000-plus in Southern Ohio give FCC more than a puncher’s chance. Upset chance: Improbable, but possible
  3. LA Galaxy vs. Sacramento Republic — If LA puts something close to its best side out there, Sacramento will struggle to stop its attack.  Upset chance: Long shot.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, New England hosts DC United, Philadelphia visits the Red Bulls, Seattle is off to San Jose, and Houston hosts Sporting KC.

WATCH: Spain’s Saul smashes a shot past Italy’s Donnarumma

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Since returning from a loan at Rayo Vallecano, Saul Niguez has been a somewhat under the radar star at Atletico Madrid.

Coming off his best season with Atleti, the 22-year-old Saul is making an even bigger name for himself at the U-21 EURO this summer.

Spain’s Saul scored a hat trick past Gianluigi Donnarumma and Italy on Tuesday, and the second goal was laced with venom.

Getting onto the ball from 30-plus yards out, Saul smashed his shot with enough power that the ball barely had occasion to rotate.

Saul is under contract at the Vicente Calderon through 2022, and has three caps for Spain’s senior team, too. He was rated Atleti’s third-best performer by WhoScored this season.

Men in Blazers podcast: Transfer window, USMNT at Gold Cup, RBNY-NYCFC

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Men In Blazers are back with their latest podcast, and the boys are hitting club soccer here and abroad as well as Bruce Arena’s men in the red, white, and blue.

Rog and Davo break down transfer window activity, rumored and real; get a heat check on the USMNT heading into the Gold Cup; and recap the (Ray) Hudson River Derby.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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