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Training Camp Q&A with Steve Cherundolo

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Friday, March 23, 2001) - Q - Has the knee injury cost you any speed or agility? Are you a different player after it than before it?
A - No, the injury has not cost me any of my speed or agility. Actually I've become faster. I've taken a few sprint tests and I've gotten better times than I ever did before the injury. Am I a different player than I was before? Yes, because I've gotten a little older and gained some more experience, but it hasn't changed my game at all.

Q - Tony Sanneh talks about how playing multiple positions at Hertha Berlin has possibly hurt him (making him sort of a jack of all trades, master of none). Do you feel the same way?
A - That's one negative about playing so many different positions, but I always get a chance to be on the field. No matter where you are, time on the field is valuable. In Germany, with Hannover, I prefer defensive midfielder, but I've been playing out wide quite a bit, too.

Q - Before the knee injury, you were on a target to start in the Olympics, gain international experience and then make a smooth transition to the national team in time for World Cup qualifying (and, in the eyes of some, be the starting right back for a decade). How do you see your national team future now and how frustrating has it been to have this setback?
A - My National Team career was delayed by the injury, but not too much. I've been given another opportunity in this camp by Bruce (Arena), and I've got to get the business done if I want to get called into the next camp. You're only as good as your last game, and I've got to do my job. It was frustrating to miss the Olympics. It would've been real cool to be there with the guys, but it doesn't do me any good to sit here and cry about it.

Q - Are you pleased with your situation in Hannover, or does you feel like you need to move up to the next level to continue to progress as a player?
A - Absolutely, I'm pleased with my situation, and I don't see myself moving for at least another year or two. You always need to challenge yourself at the next level, wherever that may be. But I think I've got another year, maybe two years, left at Hannover. The coach likes me there and I'm always playing, so you can't ask for much more.

Q - What has Bruce said to you about which position he is looking at you to fill?
A - Bruce has mentioned to me that he thinks my natural position is right back, and that's where he's looking to use me. He had also mentioned that I might see time in the midfield, but mostly at right back.

Q - How has your experience in Germany helped you most as a player?
A - I've become much more disciplined. I choose my chances and when I go forward much more wisely. You can't afford to make as many mistakes at the professional level in Germany, so my mistakes on the ball have decreased. My passing has become sharper, too.

Q - What was the timeline of your comeback from surgery? And are you back to 100% as far as speed and strength?
A - After the second surgery it was about two months before I started jogging and trying the knee out. As far as putting on boots and training it took a good 4 1/2 months, and I eased my way back into it. I didn't start playing until about six months after the second surgery. My first surgery corrected my ACL and meniscus problems, but it got infected, so the doctor went in and performed an arthroscopy to clean everything out. The infection probably cost me a month of recovery time.

Q - How closely have you been in contact with Bruce since you were in U.S. camp last spring?
A - We exchanged e-mails and talked about my progress every month. He wasn't on top of me all the time, but he didn't need to be. He knows what's going on. He has plenty of people he can talk to about my situation. It's not hard to follow a player these days.

Q - Is MLS in your future or are you happy playing abroad?
A - Right now I am very happy abroad. I'd love to come back and play in the MLS some day. When is that day? I can't answer that. People change. I might wake up tomorrow and say "I hate playing in Europe" but right now I'd like to stay there for a while.

Q - Were you surprised to be named to the roster earlier this week or did you expect to be called in because of something Bruce had told you in the past?
A - "Expect" is a strong word. I had hoped to be called in. Somewhere down the line I thought I'd deserve a call-up, but maybe not for a qualifier. He had mentioned to me that he expected to call me in eventually.

Q - What have your teammates in Germany said about the recent success of the U.S. National Team? Has the respect factor risen dramatically since you arrived there?
A - The Germans don't really want to believe that the Americans are any good at soccer. After we beat them twice in a row they had all sorts of excuses ready. They won't accept the fact that we were better on the day. They think we're getting better, and maybe someday we'll reach the top level, but they don't believe we're there yet. The respect factor has risen since I've been there, but not dramatically. Not enough, to be fair.

%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%STEVE CHERUNDOLO
Position: Defender
Height: 5'6" (1.68 m) Weight: 145 (66 kg)
Born: February 19, 1979 in Rockford, Illinois
Hometown: San Diego, California
College: University of Portland
Club: Hannover 96 (German Second Division)

U.S. National Team: The multi-talented Cherundolo saw his National Team career put on hold by a serious knee injury in 2000, but the skillful young defender should figure in the team's plans for ?01 ... Small in stature, but large in skill, this talented young defender can play many different positions ... 2000: Suffered a devastating knee injury while training in Germany and missed almost all of 2000 ... Was pegged to start at right back for the U.S. Men in 2000 before the injury sidelined him ... Was invited to the U.S. training camp in California at the start of 2000 ... Also missed the chance to play in the Sydney Games because of the injury... 1999: Played the full 90 minutes on his debut in the USA's 2-2 draw against Jamaica on September 8 in Kingston ... Co-captained the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team to an 11th place finish at the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship in Nigeria ... 1998: As an 18-year-old he made his debut with the U.S. Under-23 team against Canada on March 28 ... Trained with the full U.S. Men's National Team in San Diego prior to the World Cup ... 1997: Appeared in all four of the U.S. U-18 National Team's international matches ...

First Appearance: Sept. 8, 1999, vs. Jamaica ... First Goal: None.

Professional: Had become a consistent starter with Hannover 96 in the German Second Division before his major knee injury in 2000 ... Left the University of Portland after his sophomore season to begin his professional career in 1999 ... 2000-01: In his third season with Hannover 96, he appeared in four matches (starting two) prior to the winter break ... 1999-2000: After starting Hannover's first four games, he traveled to Jamaica to make his U.S. international debut on Sept. 8. 1999, and finished the season as a regular starter, before being injured ... 1999: Joined Hannover 96 in January after leaving Portland.

College: Was the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year following his first year at the University of Portland in 1997 ... A Soccer America Super 11 collegiate recruit following his senior season year at Mt. Carmel High School in San Diego.

Personal: Enjoys golf, watching television and reading ... Enjoys punk rock music.