LAFC promoted Steve Cherundolo to manager, but it will be a tall order for the MLS veteran. LAFC hand-picked him from under contract with NYC FC because of his experience managing in Europe and he’s also been working as an assistant coach since 2017. The question is can this experienced coach translate that success into results on the field?
Steve Cherundolo is a retired American soccer player. He was most notably a part of the United States national team that won the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He also played for German Bundesliga club Hannover 96. His wife is named Tara Cherundolo.
There are countless instances of retired players going directly into management. Xavi, a Barcelona and Spain icon, took over as manager of Al Sadd in Qatar only days after his playing career ended, while Frank Lampard took over as manager of Derby County 18 months after hanging up his boots. Jason Kreis (Real Salt Lake) and Ben Olsen (D.C. United) are two examples from Major League Soccer who transitioned fast into the coaching ranks.
Steve Cherundolo, on the other hand, pursued a different path. Cherundolo spent seven years gathering expertise at practically all levels after a successful playing career with Hannover 96 and the United States men’s national team. He worked with Hannover’s development teams, Germany’s under-15 squad, and assistant coaching jobs with Hannover and VfB Stuttgart. He earned the coveted UEFA Pro license along the way, and he coached LAFC’s USL affiliate, the Las Vegas Lights, last season. Cherundolo was named the new manager of LAFC on Monday, completing his long apprenticeship.
“I purposefully chose a lengthy road and to study from the ground up in order to be best prepared for this day when it arrives,” he stated. “It’s finally arrived. I never had a schedule, but I always believed that if the moment and circumstances were appropriate, I would act without hesitation. That’s where we are right now.”
At first sight, Cherundolo seems to be making a huge career move up the corporate ladder. Last season, he had a dismal record with the Lights, with six wins and 23 losses in 32 games, giving him the lowest record in the Western Conference. However, the function of Las Vegas in the LAFC organization has always been clear: player development, not results, therefore Cherundolo’s record must be judged through that perspective.
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There’s also the resume of the man Cherundolo is taking over from, Bob Bradley, who left Los Angeles at the conclusion of the 2021 season to assume the position at Toronto FC. Bradley brought a wealth of expertise with him when he came ahead of LAFC’s expansion season in 2018. Cherundolo, on the other hand, is making his maiden excursion into first-team management. It’s also not just any team. The role at LAFC is regarded as one of the best in the league.
Cherundolo, on the other hand, contributes his own experiences from both the United States and overseas. He understands the rigors of teaching and playing. The issue now is whether he can replicate his success on a larger scale.
“I believe it is a shift,” LAFC co-president and general manager John Thorrington stated. “However, I believe [Cherundolo’s] past indicates that he is capable of handling it. And I believe that from the time I met Steve as a 19-year-old, I envisioned him as a potential head coach. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had this notion. We believed that now was the ideal moment to give him that chance after getting to know him this past year and what he had to offer, as well as where we are as a club.”
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Bradley and Cherundolo’s personalities, at least on the surface, seem to be quite different. Cherundolo seems to be more reserved than Bradley. Is the difference going to be too much of a shock?
Cherundolo, on the other hand, recognizes that the secret is to be his own man rather than a slavish Bradley follower. Bradley’s familiarity with the squad will offer him an advantage, and it’s worth noting that despite all of his success in Los Angeles, including the Supporters Shield victory in 2019, this was a club that missed the playoffs last season. A fresh perspective might be just what this group needs.
Thorrington was impressed by Cherundolo’s ability to develop players, citing the growth of defender Mamadou Fall last season as an example of Cherundolo’s ability to connect with and improve players. “If you look at our squad, we have the league’s youngest starting lineup, and a significant part of who we are is growing and improving our guys,” Thorrington said. “Steve is an expert on the subject.”
However, it isn’t only the new manager who is adjusting; the same can be said about LAFC’s roster. Eduard Atuesta, a Brazilian midfield maestro, has joined Palmeiras. Diego Rossi is on the verge of converting his loan move to Fenerbahce in Turkey into a permanent deal. The additions of defender Franco Escobar from Atlanta and striker Ismael Tajouri-Shradi from Charlotte are good additions, while forward Cristian Arango excelled with 14 goals in approximately a half-worth season’s of labor, but more work is needed, as Thorrington recognized. There is still time to make additional transfers, which gives Cherundolo optimism about the team’s prospects in 2022.
“I believe the degree of change we’re seeing is perfectly natural,” Cherundolo added. “The core of the squad is returning, so I don’t believe we’ll have to rebuild.”
Steve Cherundolo has a variety of international expertise to rely on. LAFC
The future of LAFC is heavily reliant on the performance of star attacker Carlos Vela. The contract option for the former Mexico international was taken up, although it only lasts until June. The future of Vela, as well as Cherundolo’s ability to rely on him, remains an open issue. Thorrington spoke like a guy whose long-term goals include winning the 2019 Major League Soccer MVP award.
“I believe Steve and Carlos’ chats are quite optimistic,” Thorrington added. “Those have already occurred. ‘What role do you have in mind for Carlos?’ is one of the questions we ask [candidates]. Carlos is an important part of who we are and what we will become. It was also instructive for us to hear the different contenders’ ideas for Carlos. My chat with Carlos, as well as Steve’s conversation with Carlos, has piqued [Vela’s] interest in the position Steve has in mind for him.”
Cherundolo’s career has allowed him to work with several unusual bosses. In addition to Bradley, Ralf Rangnick, who oversaw Hannover from 2001 to 2004, is the next Manchester United manager. Cherundolo, on the other hand, attributes his development as a manager to the UEFA Pro license course.
“Developing your own philosophy is a long process,” Cherundolo said of the training. “There are clearly influences. Going through it myself was tough for me, but also really gratifying in the end, because you get to know yourself better and what you truly believe in, and then you put it all down on paper and make sure it all makes sense.”
What is the philosophy of Cherundolo? “We’ll attempt to be proactive, well-balanced, and always make excellent judgments,” he added, “but at the proper moments, we’ll also be explosive and deadly.” “So it’s identifying where we are on the field and what part of the game we’re in, as well as making smart judgments. The more smart judgments you can make in 90 minutes, the more likely you are to win the game.”
Cherundolo will be able to put his ideas into action in less than two months. He’s certain it’ll be worth the wait after seven years.
Steve Cherundolo is a former USMNT player who now manages LAFC. He has been given the task of reforming an MLS team that has struggled in recent years. Will he be able to succeed on a bigger stage? Reference: steve cherundolo costa rica.
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