Steve Cherundolo's murky U.S. future 

April, 3, 2013

Carlos Bocanegra was the first long-serving U.S. defender to fall out of the national team mix this year. Is Steve Cherundolo about to become the next?

In the days after their elimination from the 2010 World Cup, a quick glance at the Yanks' roster and the two veterans' late 1970s birthdates was enough to make anyone realize that both players would have a tough time stepping on the field for a third consecutive tournament as 35-year-olds in 2014.

Yet for a while it looked as though Bocanegra and Cherundolo -- or at least one of them -- would defy the odds and hang around all the way to Brazil. The value the pair brought to the evolving U.S. squad was underscored as recently as last September, when both missed a dismal 2-1 World Cup qualifying loss in Jamaica. Jurgen Klinsmann reinserted them for the return leg a few days later, and their experience and ability was crucial in a hard-fought home win against the Reggae Boyz.

But much has changed in the seven months since. Bocanegra lost his spot in the Yanks' starting lineup before the final Hexagonal round of regional qualifying began, and after falling out of favor with his struggling, second-tier Spanish club, he was left off Klinsmann's most recent roster entirely.

Cherundolo's situation is different. He too missed the Americans' first three qualifiers of 2013, because of a knee injury. But his future is every bit as murky as Bocanegra's. He's also running out of time.

Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.