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Former USMNT defender joins coaching staff for England and Italy friendlies

U.S. interim coach Dave Sarachan, with assistant Richie Williams in the background, will gather the national team next weekend for two friendlies in Europe. (Jessica Hill/Associated Press)

In his year as interim coach, Dave Sarachan has integrated several young players into the U.S. men’s national soccer team. For approaching friendlies in Europe, he has added an up-and-coming coach to his staff.

Steve Cherundolo, a longtime U.S. defender who entered the coaching ranks after retiring in 2014, will serve as an assistant during a 10-day camp that will include matches against England on Nov. 15 at Wembley Stadium and Italy five days later in Genk, Belgium.

The squad, to be announced Monday, will begin gathering next weekend in London for the last activities of the year. Richie Williams and Matt Reis will continue in their assistant roles, as well.

Sarachan has been on the job since last fall, when the Americans failed to qualify for this summer’s World Cup in Russia. The U.S. Soccer Federation is aiming to hire a permanent replacement for ousted Bruce Arena by the end of the year. The Columbus Crew’s Gregg Berhalter has been the front-runner for some time.

Sarachan’s contract expires at the end of the year. It’s unclear whether he is a candidate for the long term.

When will USMNT hire a coach? Ahead of high-profile friendlies, the search is taking shape.

Relying heavily on a fresh generation of players, such as Tim Weah, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, Sarachan has posted a 3-3-4 record, including a 1-1 draw at France before Les Bleus won the world title, and a 1-0 victory over archrival Mexico in September. Last month, the Americans lost to Colombia, 4-2, and tied Peru, 1-1.

Cherundolo, 39, is one of the most accomplished Americans to go abroad, leaving the University of Portland early to log 15 years and the captain’s job with German club Hannover, mostly in the Bundesliga. His uninterrupted service earned him the nickname “Mayor of Hannover."

Cherundolo, a product of San Diego youth soccer who thrived at right back, also made 87 appearances for the senior national team between 1999 and 2012, and served on three World Cup squads.

Since retiring, he has been an assistant with Hannover’s first and second team, a head coach of the under-15 and under-17 programs and early this year joined Tayfun Korkut’s staff at top-flight Stuttgart. Last month, amid a 1-4-2 record and last place, Stuttgart fired Korkut and two assistants, including Cherundolo.

In an interview in August with Fox Sports' Stu Holden, Cherundolo said the rebuilding national team “needs to find its identity again, and figure out what we do best and what we do well, and stick to that.”

“Some day, it would be an honor to coach U.S. soccer, work for U.S. soccer,” he said. “Only time will tell. Certainly that is a phone call I would take."

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