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Cherundolo's absence leaves hole
by Paul Kennedy, August 19th, 2013 7:10PM

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TAGS:  men's national team

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[USA MEN] It looks more and more likely Steve Cherundolo won't be around for his fourth World Cup. The Mayor of Hannover faces his third knee surgery this year that will sideline him indefinitely and leaves Brad Evans, for the moment, as the No. 1 choice at right back. What are Jurgen Klinsmann's options?

The 34-year-old Cherundolo, who earned his first cap in 1999, is the longest-serving member of the national team and started five of six games in the semifinal round of World Cup 2014 qualifying, but he hasn't played a game for the national team in 2013.

Cherundolo's savvy, skill on the ball and ability to combine down the right side are a package none of the other players currently at Klinsmann's disposal possess.

U.S. Starters-Right Back (2013):
Beltran (1) Canada 0-0 (friendly)
Chandler
(1) @Honduras 1-2 (WCQ)
Cameron (1) Costa Rica 1-0 (WCQ)
Cameron (2) @Mexico 0-0 (WCQ)
Cameron (3) Belgium 2-4 (friendly)
Evans (1)
Germany 4-3 (friendly)
Evans (2)
@Jamaica 2-1 (WCQ)
Evans (3) Panama 2-0 (WCQ)
Evans (4) Honduras 1-0 (WCQ)
Parkhurst (1) Guatemala 6-0 (friendly)
Parkhurst (2) Belize 6-1 (GC)
Beltran (2) Cuba 4-1 (GC)
Parkhurst (3) Costa Rica 1-0 (GC)
Parkhurst (4) El Salvador 5-1 (GC)
Parkhurst (5) Honduras 3-1 (GC)
Parkhurst (6) Panama 1-0 (GC)
Evans (5) @Bosnia-Herzegovina 4-3 (friendly)
Note: Total starts in parentheses.

Of the five players have started at right back in Cherundolo's place in 2013, Evans is the current No. 1. He started at right back in the last three qualifiers -- all wins -- and started there in the 4-3 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina even though he doesn't play there for the Seattle Sounders.

Michael Parkhurst helped his cause with a solid Gold Cup, but he doesn't even dress for German club Augsburg and will probably need to switch clubs if he wants to remain in the picture.

Timmy Chandler began the Klinsmann era as Cherundolo's heir apparent but Klinsmann didn't even bother calling him up for the BiH match. First things first: Chandler will need to regain his starting job at Nuremberg.

Geoff Cameron remains an option at right back -- he's starting there for Stoke City -- even if Klinsmann prefers him at center back or as a holding midfielder.

Real Salt Lake's Tony Beltran has started twice this year but would be considered no higher than a third or fourth choice if everyone was healthy.

There are other options, but they're longshots:

-- Klinsmann has categorized Fabian Johnson as a left back, left midfielder and central midfielder, but he is actually right-footed. Johnson's consistent play on the left side of midfield has been in a big factor in the "A" team's recent success, so Klinsmann will be very reluctant to break up his lineup, but he'll have to address the issue of where to play Landon Donovan. If he inserts Donovan on the left side of midfield, Klinsmann will have to drop either Johnson or DaMarcus Beasley unless he wants to try Johnson at right back.

-- Right back is one of the strongest positions for young Americans in MLS -- Seattle rookie DeAndre Yedlin, who made the MLS all-star team, the Revs' Andrew Farrell, the 2013 No. 1 draft pick, Philly's Sheanon Williams, among others -- but Klinsmann has shown little inclination to bring along young players quickly.

-- Jonathan Spector was supposed to be called in for the March qualifiers but was a last-second scratch after picking up an ankle injury. Playing in the League Championship for Birmingham City won't help his cause, just as it means a Klinsmann call-up will remain elusive for Eric Lichaj, now starting -- and playing well -- at Nottingham Forest.


10 comments
  1. Paul Estrada
    commented on: August 20, 2013 at 12:07 a.m.
    Honestly, I really don't understand 'dolo's name coming up all the time in the context that he is the no. 1 choice for right back for tha Nats. Cherundolo hasn't featured for a long time, and frankly he is not needed anymore. He is also too old. Sure he has been injured, but in that time we have found just as viable or better options for right back. Cherundolo was good at going forward but his defending was suspect, especially in the BB system.

  1. Cory Leonard
    commented on: August 20, 2013 at 7:27 a.m.
    @paul Estrada. Yeah well this isn't the Bob Bradley system any more. Up until he got just, and even after, he was the no. 1 choice when healthy. Brad Evans has showed up well, but even at 34 Dolo still had more pace and was well more of a threat going forward. And if you think his defending was suspect you clearly have never actually seen him play. Having said that I do think Evans would be the right choice if the WC were tomorrow. Thankfully it's not. I think Geoff Cameron and Eric Lichaj deserve a shot because they both play rb for their clubs and both are playing pretty well right now.

  1. Bruce Gowan
    commented on: August 20, 2013 at 8:44 a.m.
    I agree with the previous post, forget Cherundolo and concentrate on the future not the past. I've not been a big Evans fan but I will admit that he has looked good. It is never wrong for the MNT to focus on players who are actively playing the position for their club team.

  1. Daniel Clifton
    commented on: August 20, 2013 at 9 a.m.
    I think that when healthy Dolo is clearly the bat choice at right back. I don't remember Dolo having problems on the defensive end as the first commenter stated. It looks like his career may be over as in no more cartilage in that one troublesome knee. Looking forward Evans has been solid at right back. His offense is sporadic and that is what he does not bing to the table that Rolo does bring. I like the idea of trying Fabian Johnson on the right side.

  1. Alexander Lozano
    commented on: August 20, 2013 at 10:59 a.m.
    I know JK prefers Cameron at DM or CB...and Evans has proven to be pretty solid...& JK seems to favor Jones as Bradley's partner but I'd like to see Cameron given a shot at RB. I don't see Parkhurst or Chandler as viable options & believe that Cameron can be a solid RB...i.e., Costa Rica & Mexico WCQs. I would start Cameron & Evans at RB, separately, in the October WCQs, see which one performs better & go from there!

  1. Allan Lindh
    commented on: August 20, 2013 at 11:39 a.m.
    If starting for your club, and playing at highest level is what counts, I don't understand the dismissal of Cameron. Watched him on Saturday, he looked solid to me against Liverpool. To my eye, 'Pools chances didn't come down his side. Always has his head in the game, covers back as first instinct, big and strong in the air, long on brains and responsibility. Doesn't run the flank as well as 'Dolo, but when he ranges forward, usually cutting inside, often ends up delivering ball to front men in the box, usually effectively. And can hold his own up front on set pieces. Knows when to take one for the team also, but not so flagrant about it as Jones. Can't understand the logic of preferring him at center back or mid, and then not playing him when it's a right back we need.

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: August 20, 2013 at 12:36 p.m.
    Well put together arguments Gents.....I too find it hard to fathom Dolo making it all the way back to form/fitness & having enough chances to stake a claim for Brazil.....It appears we are just to thank both Dolo and Boca for getting us through the semi-final round of qualifying and let their ship sail....that does bother me. Chandler is out, period, both for performance and lack of commitment. Evans is the guy, with Geoff as back-up both for his versatility (DM,RB,emergency CB)and for his size. I don't see Beasley starting over Fabian when all is said and done. But as I have said before, I believe we need Donovan and Bradley to own the spine of the field from PK spot to PK spot. Forget the HM/DM debate. Call me crazy, but I would put Eddie and Jozy up top, Donovan/Bradley offset (and alternating their forward forays) in the CMs, Dempsey left Zusi right with Fabian, Besler, Gonzalez to round out the backline. Are we going to Brazil to win games, or just to have a respectable showing?

  1. John Singer
    commented on: August 20, 2013 at 3:23 p.m.
    Donovan is best in right MF, playing in top form there with Everton and Galaxy. But Zusi has played well there, also, and I like him on the pitch. I say experiment with Zusi at right back. He is athletic, runs the wing, and slings a mean cross.

  1. Paul Estrada
    commented on: August 20, 2013 at 3:42 p.m.
    Seriously, @ Cory Leonard, I have been following the national team for almost 3 decades. I know enough about the game. Cherundolo is not a great defender. He gets into the attack well enough is guilty of not tracking back. This would happen on many occasions. A younger, healthy Cherundolo might still be a viable option, but it is puling a BB to keep him around. I am confident JK would drop him in the same fashion as Boca. BB was guilty of having "his guys" and he was reluctant to move beyond them. JK is not like that at all, as we have witnessed over the last few years.

  1. Chris Sapien
    commented on: August 20, 2013 at 3:59 p.m.
    I would agree John, except as we saw in the GC, Donovan has more room to create in the middle, doesn't stay wide consistently to deliver a variety of balls when he is wide mid, but he is a clinical finisher!! Sounds perfect for the middle. To your point though, it's still unknown if Zusi can bring it every game, but he delivers more target balls from out wide than LD.


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