Steve Cherundolo has remained very much alive in the conversations of U.S. roster spot for Brazil – among the people who matter, that is, Jurgen Klinsmann and his staff of assistants.
That may come as a surprise to U.S. supporters, even those who closely follow the national team, who haven’t seen much lately from the program’s longtime incumbent at the right back spot.
Cherundolo’s ability to remain wedged into those conversations may be slowly changing, as the 34-year-old defender simply cannot get himself healthy enough for a regular run of Bundesliga matches. This story says the Hannover captain is training on his own once again, unable to defeat the persistent knee issues that have kept him on or near the sidelines for much of the last year.
Remember, Cherundolo asked to be excused from summer national team duty, hoping the time off would get his body back where it needed to be. It was a long-term strategic approach, one backed by Klinsmann, the idea being to get 100 percent healthy for the current Bundesliga campaign, which would get his form and fitness up for World Cup 2014.
It looked like the right approach, too, as none of the U.S. “trialists” at right back could securely lock down the position; Klinsmann has yet to completely sold on Brad Evans (the apparent, current frontrunner), Geoff Cameron, Michael Parkhurst or the peripheral challengers. (Which is why we see guys like Chance Myers and DeAndre Yedlin in the current camp, barbecuing with Brazilian journalists and such.)
After appearing 45 times last year for his longtime Bundesliga club, Cherundolo has just one appearance for Hannover this year. If he cannot regain that right back spot and get a solid run of games in the coming two months, it becomes difficult to see the U.S. veteran rounding into World Cup shape in time.
Cristiano Ronaldo, after all, will be tough enough to deal with for the healthiest, most confident and in-form defender once the teams meet in the first round in Brazil.