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USMNT legend Cherundolo open to long-awaited U.S. return as MLS head coach

08-Jan-2021, 11:07 pm

Cherundolo 2014 Hannover

Steve Cherundolo has spent the better part of the last 22 years abroad.

And, all these years later, Cherundolo remains abroad, still afixture in German soccer. Since retiring in 2012, he's found new life as a youth coach and is currently in charge of the German U-15s. His wife is German, he has roots in Germany, and, for his two children, living in Germany is all they've ever known.

However, more than two decades after his departure, Cherundolo does have a desire to someday return home. And that 'someday' may be in the very near future.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Cherundolo confirmed that he has held talks with"multiple clubs' in MLS regarding a head coaching job. As things stand, three MLS clubs have managerial vacancies: D.C. United, Toronto FC and Inter Miami, with the first two both having been linked with the former USMNT star in recent weeks.

There are also expansion teams in Charlotte FC, St. Louis SC and Sacramento coming into the league over the next few years, all of which will need a head coach at some point.

For his part, Cherundolo wouldn't confirm with whom those talks have been. However, he could confirm that he was interested in making a return to the U.S., an opportunity that would allow him to further his coaching career and give his family a long-awaited chance to experience his old home.

"That's something in our future," Cherundolo said. "When that happens, who knows, butI would definitely like to provide my children with some time back in the States so they can see where dad grew up and so they can be closer to grandma and grandpa and the rest of their extended family. That's something that I would love for them to experience.

"Much of my life has been in Germany, at least half of my life has been outside the U.S., and I think both countries will play an important role moving forward. We would like to include, in the next couple of years, some more time in the U.S.but in this business, it's very difficult to plan.It's something that definitely on our list."

When Cherundolo, who earned 87 caps and went to three World Cups with the USMNT, left for Hannover in 1999, few would have expected the success he would find.

Over the next decade-and-a-half, he grew into a club legend, making 423 appearances in all competitions. In fact, Cherundolo's 300 Bundesliga appearances are more than any player in the history of the club.

A one-club man as a player, Cherundolo's next step was natural: coaching with Hannover. He worked as a first-team assistant and youth coach, eventually taking jobs with Stuttgart, the USMNT and, currently, in the German setup.

Those experiences, which range from working with teenagers to guiding senior teams through relegation fights, are what Cherundolo points to when asked if he's ready for a head coaching job– the one role that he's seemingly never occupied.

"There's so much to learn as a coach," he said,"and I'm really glad, in hindsight, that I took my time. I'm really glad I've been able to see this game and work in this game from many different perspectives.

"And I think perspectives and understanding situationsfrom other people's perspective is extremely important as a coach, and I feel that I'm very well prepared to make that next step.

"I know some people, the first thing that comes to mind is, 'You don't have an experience as the head coach of the men's game!' Yeah, of course, but I've done pretty much everything else, so I feel very well prepared and ready for any stuff that comes my way."

Now several years removed from his playing career, Cherundolo has also been able to watch on as the Bundesliga has become one of the most frequent landing spots for America's best.

Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna and Tyler Adams have all called the league home in recent years, while youth players such as Chris Richards and Joe Scally have also flocked to the league in recent years.

Cherundolo does reject the title of trailblazer, pointing instead to Claudio Reyna, Kasey Keller and Eric Wynalda that for paving the way for him. But he does believe that the perception has changed of American players has changed in recent years, opening doors that were closed for his generation.

“What we are seeing now is American players are getting the benefit of the doubt, which is a great advantage,” he says. “This is something I did not get on day one.

"At that time 20 years ago, you needed a coach on your side and then you needed to perform well, and then, as soon as you did have one bad game, it wasn’t, ‘Oh, he just had a bad game.’ It was more of, ‘See, I told you American players are not good.’

"That is the biggest difference, the benefit of the doubtand it's fantastic because it will allow a young American player to go through a bad patch and he won’t just be written off. It will be, ‘Hey, how can we help him get out of this?'


Source : goal.com

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