American Exports: USMNT's Steve Cherundolo to hold any MLS decision until May
Longtime US national team defender and Bundesliga veteran Steve Cherundolo is still flirting with the idea of capping his impressive career in Major League Soccer, but he won’t make any decisions on the move until at least May.
The 34-year-old Cherundolo, who hails from San Diego, told ESPN this week that he has long considered MLS as a potential destination and that he’s well aware that some of his USMNT counterparts have returned home from Europe in recent years.
“Good friends have moved back home recently. Carlos Bocanegra is there and has wonderful things to say about the league,” Cherundolo told ESPN. “And obviously playing at home is something much different from anything we’ve been used to. We spent our whole careers away from home.”
Cherundolo is the longest-serving current player in the Bundesliga, with a career dating back to 1999, when he first joined Hannover 96 at 20 years old. Since then he’s earned 87 caps for the US national team and appeared in two World Cups (2006 and 2010), but he’s battled injuries recently and made his first appearance of the season for Hannover in a scoreless draw against Eintracht Braunschweig last Friday.
He has not featured for the USMNT since Oct. 16, 2012, when he started and played the full 90 minutes of the US’ win over Guatemala in Kansas City in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying group stage.
“I enjoy a challenge and it is challenging: 34 years of age, having three surgeries, finding that motivation to make it back on the field,” he told ESPN. “I see it as challenge, one I am very close to overcoming. There were times when my knee wasn’t getting any better and neither the doctors nor I had any idea or way of going about the future. Now the only thing left is sharpening my skills again and getting match fitness."
Cherundolo signed a one-year deal with Hannover in May that will keep him with the club until next summer, unless he decides to make a move sooner, potentially to MLS.
"It’s always something that I am interested in,” he told ESPN. “I follow the league, it is a great little league.”
Bocanegra joined Chivas USA earlier this season, while five other players from the 2010 World Cup team – Ricardo Clark, Jay DeMerit, Benny Feilhaber, Clarence Goodson and Marcus Hahnemann – have all joined MLS teams since South Africa.