LONDON - Hanover 96 captain Steve
Cherundolo has called for the 'next generation' of American
players to be allowed to leave the MLS for Europe.
One of a handful of American players to have forged a
lengthy career in Europe, the veteran of three World Cup squads
has been at the Bundesliga club since 1999 and played in 252
German top flight matches.
"I do want to play a year or two in the MLS," the
Californian told Reuters in an interview.
"There is definitely a development there, more money
invested, more and more younger players coming through the
"I would love to see the MLS release players to European
clubs, give them more playing time and let them play at a level
that challenges the players at every game at the season and not
just the play-offs.
"There is no relegation (in America) and having that as a
club in Europe, every game is important. I would like to see
more younger players move to Europe."
Former England captain David Beckham incurred the wrath of
L.A. Galaxy fans by joining AC Milan on loan last season only to
tear his Achilles, ruling him out of much of the MLS campaign.
While the circumstances are different, the 32-year-old
Cherundolo, wants to see his countrymen follow Beckham across
"I believe there is a perfect club for every player,"
insisted the 32-year-old, who joined Hanover straight from
university and has turned down all offers to move since.
"Some players never find it, some find it after three or
four moves and some straight away," added Cherundolo, an avid
"I was lucky, I was inexperienced but willing and hungry.
Hanover was second division then but it was a good match. I grew
as a player and the club felt good. We both continued to grow
over the years."
This season, in Hanover's best ever in the Bundesliga, the
club are pushing for a Champions League spot, currently fourth,
a point behind Bayern Munich with six games left to play.
"Champions League, that would be unbelievable. Something
that will be so difficult to achieve. Now, we do need a little
help from Bayern's opponents," he said.
"If we get a Champions League spot we will make a lot of
people happy here but with a fourth place we will also make a
lot of people happy."
It would complete an emotional comeback for a team shocked
by the suicide of their goalkeeper Robert Enke in late 2009 and
who narrowly avoided the drop last season.
"Through all of the tribulations of the team we learned a
lot and they made us become more of a team," said Cherundolo.
"This particular team believes in its chances to win against
Cherundolo credited coach Mirko Slomka and his staff for
helping them avoid relegation last season and instilling a
"This season we could have a bit of success," he said.
"Not fighting against relegation and to qualify for an
international competition would definitely complete the circle
from second division to Europe."
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