Evoking the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team and the 2006 Italy World Cup team, Bob Bradley set about expressing what he considers important as a coach on his first day with the tag of interim U.S. men's national team coach removed.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference in New York and on a teleconference call shortly thereafter, Bradley talked about team-building as the USA sets forth on a busy summer with the Gold Cup and Copa America and 2010 World Cup qualifying beginning next year.
(Click here for a podcast of what Bob Bradley and Sunil Gulati had to say on Wednesday.)
"Unless you were a true hockey aficionado," he said, "no one knew any of those players' names before the Olympics. But after the team had success, everybody knew all their names. We must become a real team. We must value the time when we're together. We must get to know each other. We must challenge each other. We must step on the field and play collectively with belief in what we're trying to do."
Using a soccer example, he cited Italy, the surprise winner of last year's World Cup.
"You have players that compete against each other competitively week in and week out," Bradley said, "but throughout that event, they were blood brothers. We must develop that type of identity."
Bradley said the work accomplished during his reign as interim coach was an important step in the right direction.
"The work the past six months, I think, has gone very well," he said. "In actuality, throughout that period of time the focus has been on doing the right thing for the national team, doing what makes sense for the moment, doing what makes sense for the future, knowing that that's the only way to work."
He said it was important that players aren't complacent and fight for the right to be called up for international competitions.
"The national team is special," he said. "It's an honor for players. We've tried in every camp to make the point that one should never expect to be in the camp. There's no sense of entitlement. It's something that is certainly earned. As coach of the national team, the decisions you make must be along the same lines. Again, I feel like we've been able throughout this period to establish a good way of doing things. I have always considered it an honor."
Bradley said rosters for the Gold Cup and Copa America should be finalized soon.
"We are in the process of finalizing the Gold Cup roster," he said. "With that, we will also have a pretty good idea of what the Copa roster would look like. Our hope is to have a handful of players play in both events. That would include some MLS-based players and that would also include some European-based players. So, we are hopeful that the discussions that have taken place in the past month have paved the way for us to put two very, very good rosters together for both events this summer."