Steve Cherundolo joined the U.S. World Cup roster May 19, replacing the injured Chris Armas in the U.S. squad. He started and played in seven of ten final round qualifying matches in the right back position. We talked to Steve about returning the ranks just prior to the team's departure for the World Cup, his professional career in Germany, his time in Korea, and more...
ussoccer.com:How's your time in Korea been?
Steve Cherundolo: "It's been good so far. The hotel is nice and the hospitality is fantastic. The team seems to be in good spirits. We're having a good time."
ussoccer.com: What have you found to be the most interesting aspects of the Korean culture that you've seen so far?
Cherundolo: "The most interesting aspect for me has been that the people don't seem to talk to each other very much in public. They keep to themselves a lot. They seem very tranquil, and it's a really peaceful and polite culture so far. It's been a very positive experience."
ussoccer.com: Take us through how you found out you'd been added to the 2002 World Cup roster?
Cherundolo: "I was home in San Diego. I got a call two days before the Holland game in Boston. Bruce let me know that there were a couple injuries and he wanted to call me in. He asked me how I felt about that, and I said of course I want to help the team if I could. I was on a plane to Boston the next night and made it just in time for the team picture. It was a little bit late, but it's certainly better late than never."
ussoccer.com: Was it difficult getting reacquainted with team at that point?
Cherundolo: "I guess it was a bit strange because I wasn't in the initial roster, but it wasn't too bad because I'd been involved in final round qualification and I knew all the guys and they know me. That part wore off after the first training session. The first training I was a bit nervous about how I was going to be accepted into the team, but it's been great."
ussoccer.com: Have you been maintaining your fitness since the end of the season with Hannover?
Cherundolo: "Our season ended on May 5 in Germany. Then the team went away for a weeklong training camp. We did some running and light fitness work, so luckily I was able to hold a little bit of fitness then. I was off for five or six days back in San Diego, and I was really just relaxing, playing golf, things like that. Then I got the call from Bruce, and the next day I started trying to get fit again. The first couple days in camp were pretty hard, but now I feel like I've got my legs back and I'm ready to play if called on."
ussoccer.com: Does making the World Cup roster help alleviate some of the disappointment of missing out on the 2000 Sydney Olympics (Cherundolo suffered a knee injury and was sidelined prior to the tournament)?
Cherundolo: "Making the World Cup roster makes up for the Olympics in every way. I was very disappointed that I didn't get to go to Sydney because I had so many friends on the team. It was a great coach in Clive Charles as well, but unfortunately injury held me back. But this is much better."
ussoccer.com: You just completed your first full season as a starter with Hannover, and you have the added bonus of being promoted to the Bundesliga. What are your expectations heading into next year?
Cherundolo: "It's a great situation going into the top flight as a starter. It's great for me to be able to gain experience in the Bundesliga. The city is really excited, and so is the club. Everyone is going into next season with a real positive attitude, and hopefully we'll get the job done and stay up for as long as we can."
ussoccer.com: This last year is the first significant time you've spent with the senior team. Do you see making this roster as a chance to solidify your place in the national team for the future?
Cherundolo: "I certainly hope so. It's any players wish. I've been with them for about a year now, and things have gone pretty well. Despite being disappointed with not being named to the original 23-man roster, things always seem to work out for me. So hopefully this is the beginning of a long career with the national team."