CHICAGO (March 19, 2014) – Three-time FIFA World Cup veteran Steve Cherundolo announced his retirement from playing professional soccer today. The captain of Hannover 96 in the German Bundesliga is calling it quits after 15 years and is the only U.S.-born player to play his entire career in Europe.
- Steve Cherundolo by the Numbers
- Steve Cherundolo at Home in Hannover
- MNT in Germany: Steve Cherundolo, Part 1
- MNT in Germany: Steve Cherundolo, Part 2
- 2010 FIFA World Cup: Studio 90 Extra Time
Arguably the best ever to play at right back for the Men’s National Team, Cherundolo earned 82 caps for the United States. Turning in one of the USA’s outstanding performances in South Africa, he started the past seven World Cup matches going back to 2006. A two-time finalist for U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year, Cherundolo finished with 26 appearances in World Cup qualifying and earned a CONCACAF Gold Cup trophy in 2005.
While he had two memorable goals of his own – a 75-yard strike from distance past Oliver Kahn against Germany and the game-winner in the 2007 Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup – his most memorable point came when he sprung Landon Donovan in on goal for the finish that sparked the USA’s comeback in the 2-2 draw against Slovenia in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
On Feb. 9, 2013, the U.S. Women’s National Team kicked off the new year with a 4-1 victory against Scotland in Jacksonville, Florida. Christen Press, then 24-years-old, was responsible for two goals that day, scoring in the 13th minute and adding another in the 32nd to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead at halftime.
The early goal was Press’ first for the USA, coming in a match that was also her first cap.
Becky Sauerbrunn hugs Christen Press in the aftermath of Press scoring on her WNT debut.
Earning that first cap is special for any player, but a debut and a goal in the same game? That’s a rare feat. In the 30+ year history of the U.S. WNT 21 players have scored in their first caps.
NOTHING TO LOSE
Press’ path to that first game three years ago was an interesting one. In early 2012, she made the decision to move to Sweden after U.S.-based Women’s Professional Soccer folded. Press thought leaving the country might negatively impact her hopeful National Team career, but little did she know, it was only just beginning.
“I think just because I always thought that the National Teams would be watching the American league, I thought that going abroad was kind of like saying goodbye to my dream of playing for the National Team,” recalled Press. “I left around this time, in February, and I thought I would not get a call, I sort of thought that I would fall out of U.S. Soccer’s radar.”
As it turns out, head coach Pia Sundhage kept tabs on players in Europe, especially in her native land of Sweden. Press got off to a hot start with her new club, and it wasn’t long before she was on her way back home.
Press returned to the U.S. and joined the WNT in Florida in April during the final stretch of what had been an intense fitness camp. She kept to herself and tried to quickly learn as much as possible despite only being there for five days.
“I had nothing to lose,” she said. “It was my first camp, it was warm and I was so happy. I don’t think I spoke to anybody. I was not nervous, I was just happy to be in Florida and my dream was coming true. I’m always quiet when I don’t know my surroundings, so I just kept to myself trying to learn the rules, how to behave; it was all so quick.”
That short stint turned out to be the only one for Press before she was named an Olympic alternate in 2012. The following February, Tom Sermanni took over as WNT head coach, and it was then Press learned she would start against Scotland. Her chance had arrived.
“I went on the field, the crowd was so much bigger than I’d ever played in front of, and for me it was so much bigger than life,” said Press. “But I kept telling myself, ‘I’m not nervous, I’m confident, I’m a good player and I believe in myself.’”
Years and multiple goals later, plus one Women’s World Cup title to her name, the dream is alive and well for Press.
Press celebrates scoring her first World Cup goal against Australia in the USA's opening match of the 2015 Women's World Cup