Gringo Abroad: Steve Cherundolo Does His Part

Steve Cherundolo, Miroslav Stoch

Hannover 4 – Schalke 2

Bundesliga Apr-10-2010

Match Summary

Hannover handed 2nd place Schalke only their 6th defeat of the season.  The home side, who are battling relegation, started off the scoring in the 17th minute: a deflected pass in the box left the goalkeeper helpless.  Another mistake led to a second Hannover goal in the 29th when the Schalke keeper came out too soon and striker Ya Konan slid the ball between his legs.  Even though Schalke picked up two quick goals in the second half (46th and 52nd) and dominated possession for much of the game, they were unable to finding a winning goal.  Hannover did not waste their chances, however.  Two counterattacks led to goals in the 80th and 92nd minutes.

American Performance

Steve Cherundolo started at right back and captained the home side (regular captain Arnold Bruggink started the game on the bench).  Cherundolo put in a solid, if not spectacular shift.  He allowed very few crosses (in fact, he wasn’t beaten on the wing until a 74th minute cross) and combined well with midfielders and his fellow defenders to snuff out any number of attacks.

Unfortunately, he was somewhat culpable on Schalke’s second goal (he lost a challenge in the box that led to a shot and, eventually, a penalty against Hannover) and his offensive contributions were limited.  Cherundolo earned a corner in the 60th minute, but that was one of the few occasions he ventured into into Schalke’s half.  To be fair, Cherundolo’s hesitancy to get forward had more to do with worrying about Schalke’s attack than any inadequacies on his part.

The captain picked up an uncharacteristic yellow card in the second half, inexplicably shoving a Schalke attacker who had already passed the ball.

National Team Implications

In 2009, Cherundolo lost the starting right back job to the younger, and healthier, Jonathan Spector.  Today’s performance will not give him his spot back, but it does show that Cherundolo is ready to contribute in the World Cup.  If Oguchi Onyewu is unable to come back from injury, Bradley would be forced to start Carlos Bocanegra at center back instead of left back, which could lead to Cherundolo and Spector starting together at the fullback positions.  Spector would most likely move to left back, as he has spent significant time playing there for his club, England’s West Ham, in 2009-2010.

This certainly would not be Bradley’s preferred lineup.  Spector, who at this point offers more in attack than Cherundolo, would have his offense negated by playing on his weak-foot side.  However, with Cherundolo’s solid performance today, and Spector’s experience on the left for West Ham, the US manager could at least be assured that his fullbacks would do their part in defense.

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