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Bob Bradley's return isn't unexpected
by Paul Kennedy, August 30th, 2010 7:07PM

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TAGS:  men's national team

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[MY VIEW] The conventional wisdom was that Bob Bradley wouldn't return as national team coach next year.

By general agreement, Bradley mismanaged the biggest game of his coaching career, the round-of-16 match against Ghana at the 2010 World Cup.

And history suggests that the USA won't do as well in the next four years as it did under Bradley in its first four years.

So why was retaining him for four more years the only realistic option for U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati?

Spain victory trumps Ghana loss. For as strong as Gulati's post-game comments after the Ghana match were ("I think the team's capable of more. I think the players know it. I think Bob knows it."), he had spent a year trumpeting the U.S. success at the 2009 Confederations Cup. Nothing had awoken the international soccer community to the potential of American soccer quite like its 2-0 victory over Spain in the Confederations Cup semifinals and the second-place finish. And a year later, after Spain won the World Cup, that U.S. victory looks that much bigger. If Bradley was going to take the hit for the loss to Ghana -- the U.S. players were distracted by the hype of the late win over Algeria and the buzz back home and came out flat against Ghana -- he should get the credit for the Spain win.

There are bigger fish to fry. Any move to dump Bradley would have had to involve a radical change in approach, and Gulati simply won't have time to pull it off in the next few months. Big picture: landing the 2022 World Cup is a much bigger deal than who's in charge of the national team program over the short term, and it will require all Gulati's attention over the next couple of months. The timing of Monday's announcement was critical. With the FIFA inspection tour on the docket for next week, Gulati had to clear up the matter of whether Bradley would stay or go now. (The USA's 2022 bid is in good shape but there are no guarantees when you are dealing with a highly political body like FIFA.)

There's work to be done now. The 2009 Confederations Cup success was only possible because the USA won the 2007 Gold Cup. The 2011 Gold Cup, to again be played in the USA, is just around the corner with a ticket to the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil going to the winner. World Cup 2014 qualifying might start next year. FIFA has already announced it will move the 2014 qualifying draw up five months to July 2011, and Concacaf has proposed to play three stages of qualifying, plus a preliminary round. Bradley is around to get the train moving forward on both fronts.

The 2014 World Cup is a long way off. Just because Bradley has been awarded a new four-year deal, that doesn't mean he'll be around to coach the team in 2014. Even if there was no obvious alternative available now, there's nothing that says Gulati doesn't make a move later on, during qualifying or even after qualifying and before the finals in Brazil. Or he could bring in a World Cup specialist in the mold of Guus Hiddink to manage the team in the finals and get them to or past the quarterfinals. Buying out Bradley's contract if the national team begins to sag shouldn't be a problem. U.S. Soccer is loaded. It will be even more loaded if it bags the 2022 World Cup. The concern that the national team will stagnate under Bradley like it did under Bruce Arena in 2006 is legitimate. Bradley is more of an Xs-and-Os coach than Arena, but both are high-intensity coaches who've gotten more out of their teams than they might have otherwise accomplished thanks to their motivational methods. But there's the real fear these methods will get old under Bradley like they did under Arena.

The coach isn't the problem. Whether it's Bradley in charge, or Juergen Klinsmann or Marcelo Bielsa or Javier Aguirre or Vicente Del Bosque or anyone else, a coach won't win the World Cup. The USA will only win -- or challenge to win -- the World Cup when it has the players. And it doesn't have the players, nor are they on the horizon. Indeed, the the USA could soon be in for a few lean years with the generation after that of Landon Donovan and Co. The USA will only challenge for the World Cup when MLS starts producing young players en masse -- young players with citizenship papers who are eligible to represent the USA. MLS is only now ramping up its youth program. The 2022 World Cup -- hopefully in the USA -- would be a good time to be considered a legitimate contender.



0 comments
  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: August 30, 2010 at 7:49 p.m.
    This is the worst news possible. I have been criticle of Bob and the Bobble Heads for many years. The blame now falls on the players. Nobody went "Hope Solo" on Bob, which he clearly deserved. This will spell the doom of the National Team Program and Stifle Development. ... Players must learn the lessons of France, and resign or retire from International Play NOW! Only an uprising will turn this abomination around.

  1. David Borts
    commented on: August 30, 2010 at 9:40 p.m.
    OUTRAGEOUS!PATHETIC! a very sad day for the future of US Soccer. I am astounded! at a loss for anything positive to say.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 12:10 a.m.
    As far as I'm concerned, US Soccer, the USMNT and Sunil Gulati can all go to h--l. I am through with supporting a bunch of status seeking, bureaucratic bumblers. I don't feel the need to wish the team bad luck because they have just guaranteed it.

  1. Kris Wilcoxen
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 8:57 a.m.
    I couldn't agree LESS. A coach may not be able to win the WC but he certainly can lose it! The lineup was a mess, the players were not ready, and the coach was out of his league.

  1. Robert Kiernan
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 9:32 a.m.
    Oh PLEASE... that this man was given the job in the first place was more the result of KLINSMANN not willing to be a pawn for the Boys in Chicago to play with! ... it's because we played so poorly at the last COPA AMERICA under this coach that we were NOT asked back and instead they are bringing in the JAPANESE... just how does THAT make our bid to host the World Cup again stronger? And yes, if we suffer a repeat of last Summer's ABYSMAL performance AT HOME to the MEXICANS in the GOLD CUP...we won't be going back to the FEDERATIONS CUP either...so we could very well have no meaningful competition for the NATS until we start WC Qualification again, and really that means mainly playing the CONCACAF Minnows at least at first... so what sort of test is that?... With so many of our players aging, especially in the back, will this coach EVER bring in newer players to replace those that are past their prime? Take a good hard look at our left flank over the last few years...WHAT has Bob Bradley done to address this gaping wound? Bocanegra has been showing signs of age for a while now, and NEVER was all that speedy to start with, Pearce? Bornstein? ...remember DaMarcus Beasley as a LB...NONE of this really worked, and his treatment of Edgar Castillo was shameful and along with not seeming to know how to use Paco Torres, has truly started to Alienate a sizable number of the Latino community. So will he now play Eric Lichaj or Daniel Williams, maybe Mikkel Diskerud or Frank Simek? Maybe even notice the Red Bulls rookie Tim Ream? ...or will he stick with players he knows like Bornstein, whether or not they deserve to be recalled? That this coach plays a conservative route one long ball style that has REPEATEDLY lead to our inability to keep a clean sheet, even against teams that at least on paper we really SHOULD be able to easily handle is both maddening and very troubling. That he seems to see players like Torres or Holden or Feilhaber more as part timers, rather than as our likely backbone is both short sighted and pig headed. That he he had THREE players this past World Cup who were on form to score (Dempsey, Buddle & Gomez)...and managed not to start ANY of them at Striker, was a coaching decision...a very POOR coaching decision...that Buddle and Donovan clearly were on the same wavelength, yet he started Altidore and Findley...who were clearly NOT the best pair available says much about his ability to see the players... and to constantly see Dempsey used outside and wide instead of inside within shooting range was just ridiculous. Just how much time did Holden see? How about Torres...to start Clark, who had a hamstring injury over Edu, was clearly madness... it wasn't that Bradley had ONE poor match, he CONSISTENTLY made poor use of his bench and started the wrong players...and for this, HE IS BEING REWARDED??? ...Gulati is a fool, and this action seals it for me... I'm truly ANGRY about this, and I'm NOT alone in this!

  1. Philippe Fontanelli
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 10:07 a.m.
    Guys I hate to say this there is no future for US Soccer. Gulati should be held responsible for the demise. The US public started to pay attention to the game but it will not tolerate going backwards any longer. That's it for the game. How can the USSFA back this decision? Bunch old boys and morons. How can the soccer media swallow this? And what about the owners and investors of the MLS team? They should all raise hell as the future of the game is in danger. Don't they understand the American public that we need the win or produce at very least. Or we should try at very least. With Bradley and Gulati we are not trying we are sinking. Bradley should be ashamed of himself to even expecting to continue. He is not a patriot of US Soccer. He knows that he will not be able to elevate US Soccer. He is an egotistical bum. Gulati is an a.. hole he should get twenty years without atrial to ruin the US Soccer establishment. White collar criminals get condemned so should Gulati.

  1. Fernando Paz
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 10:10 a.m.
    Robert has said it the best. I totally agree, that should get copied and paste on an email and sent to the USSF. Maybe it will open their eyes.

  1. Hal Litchford
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 10:20 a.m.
    The real tragedy here is that the US Federation has lost a real opportunity to clean house and bring in someone that can present a new vision for soccer in the US, and a plan to support it. BB didn't have a deep roster to choose from in terms of automatic selections, so he managed to screw up the easy ones. One must also wonder about his selections for assistants; did any of them (in the privacy of a staff meeting) have the freedom to speak their mind, or the insight to say "Bob, you're joking right?" Few will argue that the one team that really lit things up in South Africa was Germany. They displayed a wonderful blend of masterful technique, athleticism, tactical acumen and creative imagination. The fact that 75% of the German team are young enough to be candidates for at least 2 and maybe 3 more World Cups speaks volumes about what they are doing in Germany below the surface. This didn't happen by accident. 10 years ago Germany had their own identity crisis and set about to do something about it with a new vision and a new plan that addressed German football holistically, from the ground up. The result of this patience, planning and committment to a vision is obvious. We're here in 2010 with much the same opportunity and instead choose a path that we know leads to underachievement. Maybe where we ought to think about cleaning house is US Soccer House in Chicago.

  1. Eric Dibella
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 10:30 a.m.
    Mikkel Diskerud as a LB?

  1. Ralph Leftwich
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 10:33 a.m.
    Your final excuse for US Soccer is "The coach isn't the problem". How is putting the wrong lineup on the field for the start of the Ghana game not BB's problem? Having to make two subs in 45 minutes shows he made a mistake. What would be good from Soccer America is to write a well thought out article on the pros and cons of the next four years with BB as the coach. Do not make excuses and also do not dismiss his achievements either. Now it appears that you are working with USSF to justify the decision.

  1. Robert Rizzuto
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 10:38 a.m.
    I completely agree with Robert, and Hal. I also have to say - "Spain Victory trumps Ghana Loss"???? Are you KIDDING ME!?!?!?! The Confederations Cup is a largely meaningless competition. Losing at the World Cup in the round of 16 to a team we should've beat, when the entire US public was behind us, completely trumps the Spain win. And the point is, as Robert said so well, that it was largely due to coaching ineptitude. When will SA stop being apologists for these stupid decisions US Soccer makes?

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 10:43 a.m.
    I hope that I've read he article correctly.... and if I did, what in sam's heck was in Sunil's cool aid?

  1. Brian Herbert
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 10:50 a.m.
    I disagree with every point that was made for retaining Bradley. The problem is that Mr. Kennedy's points all sound like how you talk to a child, "it's ok that you lost, we all have bad days, it wasn't REALLY your fault." Give me a break, we are talking about the USMNT here, not a U8 rec team, are we going to PLAY TO LOSE AND PAT EACH OTHER ON THE BACK ABOUT IT, OR DO WE WANT TO PLAY TO WIN? So, from this article I take it that the point is "Gulati can't worry about building a truly top notch USMNT program right now, he's too busy." What??? One last thing - there is way more soccer talent in the U.S. than you think - but a lot of it is left undiscovered, switches to a different sport, or is poorly coached. All these reasons for not capitalizing on our talent pool are the responsibility of coaches. Bradley is a shining example of mismanaging one's talent pool. It's all connected, so you have to start by cleaning house in the most publicly visible place first - the USMNT.

  1. Julio Vargas
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 10:53 a.m.
    What bothers me the most is that it seems that Sunil G. think that soccer fans are idiots. We are extremely emotional, I give you that, but we are smart and we do not only see the mistakes made by the players, but also by the coach. B.B. mistakes during the world cup were as big as the stadiums. The only thing that comes to my mind now is to hope that he will get better assistants. Because, it seems that either B.B. does not listen to his assistants or the assistants do not have the ability to tell him “Dude, why do you want to start with Clark against Ghana?” This decision really sucks!! I have so much to do today at work, and now I have to continue the rest of my day pissed off thanks to Gulati’s management.

  1. Mike Gaynes
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 11:03 a.m.
    Paul Kennedy's apologia for this ridiculous decision is nauseating. The longtime pattern of SA in general and Kennedy in particular to kowtow to Sunil Gulati has reached its apex with this nonsensical defense of the indefensible. The only realistic option? Bigger fish to fry? Sapin trumps Ghana? Idiocy. Turning Team USA over to a real coach and letting him rebuild the program over the next four years would not have taken one iota of Gulati's attention away from the 2022 bid. Keeping Bradley merely ensures that mediocrity on the field will accompany whatever off-the-field success USA Soccer achieves. The fact is that the hopelessly unqualified Bradley simply choked against Ghana. The fact is that the notoriously indecisive Gulati has now choked on a very obvious decision. And the fact is that the relentlessly pandering Kennedy has easily tied himself in knots to justify the decision because he lacks the backbone to criticize Gulati when events absolutely require it. All three -- Bradley, Gulati and Kennedy -- have failed miserably in their responsibilities towards American soccer fans, but this disgraceful exercise in faux journalism is perhaps the worst offense of the three, because Kennedy doesn't have the excuse of incompetence.

  1. George Harrison (Jr.)
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 11:46 a.m.
    I find myself agreeing with virually every post so far. The retention of Mr. Bradley is stunning, it leaves one at a loss for words. In any other sport in the USA, if a coach had handled things as poorly as Mr. Bradley, by the time you said the words "your fired" he would have been gone. All the momentum that has been built has now vanished. I would guess that the team is shaking their collective head too and probably feeling that there will be no changes for the positive, just more of the same general lack of advancement in the program. USA Men's Basketball did what should be done in these circumstances; they determined their direction for the future, went out and found a coach to carry out that plan, who went out and found the players to work within that plan and so far, we are seeing splendid results. For the head of US Soccer to be "too busy" to find the point man for the marquee USMNT is utterly baffling to me! US Soccer has just lost, perhaps irrevocably, a golden opportunity to build and advance our program. I am dismayed...

  1. David Borts
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 12:05 p.m.
    SA You are out of touch with your subscribers and the soccer community. Please step up and do an expose of the real reasons BB was reappointed as well as all of the conflicts of interest(at the Federation) that underlie this decision. Its time for some muckraking journalism or for a magazine that is prepared to be more than a "wagged tail"!

  1. Tyler Dennis
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 12:19 p.m.
    Such a sad day. I can't say more than was said, but I can concur with Robert Kiernan, and Hal Litchford's posts above. If our youth and USMNT team could be taught to be as dynamic as the German team, we could begin to be a force. Although Mexico didn't do well against Argentina, they had some very nice play. Retaining Bradley will ensure Mexico begins to beat the U.S. regularly. Bradley had his chance and we (U.S. fans) need new hope and a new VISION. Our team only won by shear determination and guts, not by any cohesive style of play or demonstration of skill or technical savvy. We need new blood for both players and coaching.

  1. Glenn Manning
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 12:21 p.m.
    All these comments are right on! It is astonishing that BB would even be considered to be retained. We had the opportunity to make it to the Semi of the WORLD CUP. That we lost to a team that we should beat and get knocked out in the round of 16 and we consider that a success is just wrong. That is as far as BB can take us and we retain him. Eh shame on US Soccer. The comments on Germany and revamping a dying program. WHo was behind it? 2 third place showings and this time with young players...BRING ON KLINSY!!! Do what ever it takes. Our entire system needs fixing. Give him a chance to get it started. And he will bring in players that can play and not feel bad because these players have been around. We NEED better players that are winners! SOrry but with BB we are in for 4 more years of the same old same old. He should have jumped at the DC job. EPL?? Really??

  1. David Huff
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 12:29 p.m.
    This disgusting decision should really come as no surprise. MLS Bob is the classic hanger-on where he doesn't have the good class to recuse himself from further participation after a lackluster performance, knows he has a good gig for himself and also ensuring his son's playing time. Gulati is directly tied to the MLS owners through Bob Kraft (whom he works for) and has managed to ingratiate himself in the USSF political bureaucracy especially with power-broker Dan Flynn. They love MLS Bob because he can be controlled and will obey their orders faithfully as a lapdog. Playing Red-cardo Clark and Findley (from RSL, MLS champs) in the WC Ghana game was an opportunity for MLS players to be showcased on the world stage, too bad it predictably backfired to the detriment of the USMNT. Kennedy's example of puff-piece journalism seems to come from a SA internal policy of cautious handling when it comes to matters involving the USSF, probably grounded on fears of losing media access to the various MNT, WNT and youth programs if they do something to piss off USSF and then face loss of access in retaliation. Needless to say, none of these parties is looking out for the good of the game for the US and its fanbase but rather their own parochial interests. I was disgusted 4 years ago when MLS Bob was selected and now I am disgusted again with his re-appointment. People need to vote with their wallets by not purchasing USSF products or attending their games. For that matter, I am considering not renewing my MLS season tickets when they come up for renewal after this season. Afterall, MLS could have prevented this result if they wanted to, instead they supported it through their tool Sunil Gulati. Speaking of Mr. Gulati, for those of you who want to express your thoughts directly, you can send them here where he works as a professor: skg21@columbia.edu

  1. David Huff
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 12:35 p.m.
    "SA You are out of touch with your subscribers and the soccer community. Please step up and do an expose of the real reasons BB was reappointed as well as all of the conflicts of interest(at the Federation) that underlie this decision. Its time for some muckraking journalism or for a magazine that is prepared to be more than a "wagged tail"!" Do I hear a call for another expose book by Grant Wahl? The one he did on Beckham was great and another one is sorely needed to expose the seamy side of things with USSF and their sabotage of the USMNT program.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 12:53 p.m.
    Perhaps it is Gulati who should be replaced. When Mexico was eliminated in the round of 16, the manager resigned immediatly, more was expected from his team. Yet the US Fed claims we are on par with Mexico? How does keeping BB assure us that we will make any progress?I agree with just about all the posts above. We need change now!

  1. Terence Chu
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 12:55 p.m.
    My suggestion everyone is to email your thoughts directly to Sunil Gulati: skg21@columbia.edu. This is his university email address, but many people have said that he replies to this address concerning US soccer matters (although I he might not anymore given the amount of hate mail he's receiving). Just please keep your complaints in a polite and professional manner because this guy is accessible.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 1:03 p.m.
    Well I've calmed down a bit now -- sorry for the above post. Both David Huff and David Borts make great points -- "SA You are out of touch with your subscribers and the soccer community. Please step up and do an expose of the real reasons BB was reappointed as well as all of the conflicts of interest(at the Federation) that underlie this decision. Its time for some muckraking journalism or for a magazine that is prepared to be more than a "wagged tail"! Regarding Mr. Kennedy's final comment: "The coach isn't the problem". This statement is ONLY true if you assume that the USMNT coach has no long term responsibility to aid in the development of US players. If we were hiring an "itinerant WC coach" like Hiddink, Milutinovic, etc then the comment would be accurate. However in the US, where the soccer media culture is thin to non-existent, we need a coach who will use his "bully pulpit" to lobby for change. Unfortunately none of our home-grown coaches (Bradley, Arena, Sampson...) have had the interest or guts to do so. If the US soccer culture is to change, we need a high-profile spokesman to do that and no one is better positioned than the USMNT coach. Regarding Mr. Kennedy's hope that MLS and its development teams will provide the needed development of US players, he is dreaming. MLS is becoming more and more dependent on foreign players to fill our skill deficit. By the time we begin to develop players through this venue we'll all be long gone. US Sucker needs to be shaken up and that isn't just Gulati!

  1. John Hofmann
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 1:12 p.m.
    In the big picture, Paul Kennedy's column is pretty observant. It explains realities (versus soccer rants), and at least suggests some options ahead, such as switching coaches sometime into the 2014 wc cycle. At this point -- US doesn't have the talent needed to do very much at all. I wish that anyone ranting in the earlier comments would instead come up with some ways to actual deal with this. There was at least one threat to stop further MLS support, in protest. Great. That should help our 2.5 million $ team payrolls close the gap on the hundred million $ payrolls all over European leagues. It should inspire US kids to forego multi-million $ contracts in how many other sports in this country (????) to work for MLS peanuts because there isn't sufficient fan support in this country, either from the general populous or often the soccer fanatics...whose comments all too often suggest they don't support fledging soccer efforts in this country, financially, or in any other way. If anyone ranting here happens to be a multi-millionaire, your first step could be to give a good portion of your fortune to soccer development efforts in this country (designed by the world soccer expert of your choice...maybe they can overcome the problems of competition by the major sports all over this country as compared to, for example, Germany where soccer if pretty much it -- it's a far bigger talent pool with far more positive feedback there).

  1. Robert Kiernan
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 1:15 p.m.
    One more blast here at Sunil Gulati and Dan Flynn... when we had a real chance to get ourselves a true successor to Brian McBride at striker... these idiots either did not SEE it or didn't think it important enough to be bothered. Yura Movsisyan played in MLS and did quite well, he came here as a fifteen year old political refugee fro Azerbaijan and repeatedly stated he wanted to play for the US, he now is 23, has his green card, he's married to an American, but he was told that it would take him another THREE years to gain citizenship. He is currently playing in Denmark, much like many other ex MLS players looking to make a better living... and instead of finding political allies in Washington, and getting his Citizenship expedited much like was done low these many years ago for Tabre Ramos when HE was 15, the boys in Chicago dropped the ball yet again... and so the Ethnic Armenian kid from California who WANTED to play for US...will be playing for Armenia!!! How something like this can be allowed to just "happen" when it was well known that he was looking to get his citizenship and hoping to play on our team...and WAS A SUPERIOR PLAYER who could have been a starter for a good DECADE...and nobody over at Soccer House in Chicago thought it worth their time to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT... well this is yet another reason why I have such a jaundiced view of the USSF/US SOCCER... so where is HENRY KISSINGER, when you need him these days, eh? (ICE)

  1. Robert Rizzuto
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 1:28 p.m.
    David and Terence, thanks for the email address. And I did keep it professional and respectful.

  1. Robert Kiernan
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 1:37 p.m.
    @ John Hofmann, well the problem with MLS is that by it's nature, no individual team really gets to develop or sign a player as the league's single entity status controls virtually EVERYTHING...so a team has little incentive to put much time or money into player development. And since there are few guaranteed player contracts and an over dependence on signing college players whom are rarely all that well developed in the first place only to quite often see them put on waivers the minute the rest of the World's leagues close their season so that roster space can be made available for whomever is out of contract and available on a free transfer...means that few of our better young players wish to sign away their lives to MLS, and those that do if they can stick around for say three years...LEAVE to go and play for Norwegian Fishermen in leagues that aren't all that much better than MLS, but that do pay more... but unless things change radically, MLS is never likely going to produce enough players of more than average professional caliber and most of those won't stick if the money remains so marginal... so Mr. Kennedy's dream of MLS/ College soccer is more of a pipe dream than a strong probability for the future. (ICE)

  1. J Sagett
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 2:14 p.m.
    A very short-sighted and provincial decision. I think it was Sally Jenkins in the Wash. Post who wrote re: the World Cup that soccer was the only sport that the U.S. doesn't care whether it goes for the gold. (Even the athletes in the most obscure winter Olympic sports get the best facilities and coaches.) Paul's column today says exactly that. Plus, I'm tired of hearing that the national team coach "needs to know the American game." Plus, MLS isn't providing much for the national team. Until we get a manager who has a broader, international perspective, guess we have to settle for getting out of the group stage -- if even that. I, for one, am very tired of settling.

  1. Eric in DC
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 2:38 p.m.
    I think BB took our boys as far as they could go. I do feel it is time to move on. But I also think wholsale changes will be far more beneficial than just a change of head coach. Specifically, I think Gulati is extremely intelligent; everyone who know him or has met him says so. But he IS NOT a brilliant soccer mind. We need someone who understands scouting, youth systems, development and the importance of international competition other than the World Cup. CONCACAF Champion's League for instance or the importance of getting into the America's Cup now and again. I differ from the Doomsday predictions too though. 10 years ago, we wouldn't imagine how many of our players are playing abroad and how well the USMNT is doing. I think 10 more years from now we'll look back and say "Wow look how far we've come!"

  1. David Huff
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 2:41 p.m.
    @ John Hofmann as well: its interesting to see how you characterize those who comprise the large opposition to the USSF's poor decision-making as engaging in "rants", this is a patheticly shopworn tactic in demonizing the opposition through labelling in a negative fashion in order to delegitimize the valid points raised. Rather than engaging in appeasement and a defense of your chums at USSF and MLS you should really ask yourself what has MLS Bob done to earn another 4 years at the helm of USMNT? The ultimate performance-based measures for MLS Bob were on display at WC 2010 and he failed badly, particularly in his lineup decisions for which a coach, not the players, must be held accountable. The so-called "rant" about withholding support from MLS and USSF are spot-on and designed to encourage change from organizations that have ignored the will of the USMNT fanbase by using that most American of protest tactics,the boycott, hitting them in the pocket where it hurts as payment for their poor decision-making. If they then still decide to "stay the course" then thats their decision to commit suicide and we will be much better off without them. We are not sheep that will accept such decisions in smiling-fashion nor are we submissive subjects that must kowtow to Communistic-like dictates of organizations that feel they don't have to be accountable to their constituency. The spirit of openess and freedom needs to be brought to the culture of USSF so that our USMNT can be liberated from the shackles of those who dwell primarily on parochial interests and who do not have the US' best interests at heart.

  1. Tom Dugan
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 2:58 p.m.
    Great, 4 more years of Bumbling Bob. No direction, no cohesiveness and continual excuses for his lack of vision and ability. I think Bill A. got it right - A Player Strike / Fan Boycott is the only way this situation can be resolved at this point.

  1. James Hardern
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 2:59 p.m.
    While I am dissapointed in the decision to retain BB, I am a little glad he gets a chance to do better. But can he? Will he suddenly be what Sunil was clearly unhappy with in SA? That is a big risk for US Soccer. In my view, as big as going in a "bold new direction". My concern now lies more with the leadership at USSF. Why so long to make this decision? Why is the youth pipeline looking so bare for 2014 cycle? What exactly is the guiding philosophy for the US program? While it is easy to villify BB, the real anger needs to be directed towards the USSF and Gulati. As I see it, qualifying for Brazil is not a given, and Gulati has been asleep at the switch. It is clearly time for him to go.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 3:38 p.m.
    @ Everyone: I've known Sunil Gulati now since before WC USA ('92-'93 to the "current era") and I can definitely say that while he is a gentleman and a scholar, however, I will not say that he made the right decision to "retain" Banal Bob Bradley, nor for that matter niether did Dan Flynn and of course the Board of Directors of US Soccer. Sunil is good at his profession, that as an Economics Professor at Columbia U, but I'd always doubted his soccer ability. I've seen him talk, work and climb to the pinnacle that is US Soccer, and have seen him manipulate and discuss his way to the presidency. Four years ago my son and I went to Germany and followed the US MNT, cheered the team on even in vainglorious defeat, and still proudly wore US jerseys, etc. However, will I continue to support a US MNT that is "headed" by someone who wears blinders when he coaches? No. By the way, I am an immigrant from Mexico, I served in the Navy and Army, am a US citizen, a retired professor of history and college coach, worked in virtually all areas of soccer, locally and nationally, have been a 32=year member of the NSCAA, and worked diligently for US Soccer's national school system (78, 79, 80)and I must admit that it is indeed a very sad day for US Soccer, as Bradley will continue to tear apart what hundreds and thousands of us have worked so long and hard to achieve, and that is a credible soccer program. Lastly, is it no wonder that many of our top talent ends up as far as possible and away from anything that resembles the MLS, USL, collegiate or even university level play?

  1. Paul Sheirich
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 4:59 p.m.
    Wow. Fantastic comments. I think coaching is at the heart of our problem. The US approach is to typically look for the big, fast, hardworking, go-in-hard kind of player. All valuable traits. Crafty, vision, touch, are things they don't seem to value as much, but are the very talents that will move you from good to great. Unfortunate, but that's what I hear from the coaches time & time again as they evaluate their players. It's noted above, that soccer leadership needs to change at the top. When a national team has such a hard time finding good players, you really do have to recognize that the system in play today needs to be overhauled. But, today's leadership is about keeping the power in place. We are a "pay-to-play" culture, and that must change to tap all sources of talent in this country. Instead the focus here is on getting the college scholarship. A better union between MLS, USL, PDL, might make a difference. But there needs to be more right down into the youth club system. Some changes in youth competitive structure over the past few years might help to provide more avenues to find talent, but it's still very much a pay-to-play system. Bradley does NOT help us move forward. It's all been said above. Sad really.

  1. Karl Schreiber
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 5:23 p.m.
    Our MNT head coach reportedly failed to meet the expectations of the Federation's president and - presumably - its Board of Directors. He should have withdrawn his candidacy for another term at that point. Period. Instead, the Federation president re-appointed him for four more years. Our ever-growing and ever-smarter and ever-more-passionate soccer population has been robbed of HOPE by the top representative of the Federation. We have not been given a rationale (so far), nor do we know what the USSF’s vision for development at the highest level is, not to mention a plan how to get there. A very very sad day for U.S. Soccer indeed! I hope the National Board of Directors has backed Gulati’s decision, and I hope all of the backers will get voted out -- by a more knowledgeable assembly! -- at the next AGM. As for “Soccer America”, to me it is a pretty good source for U.S. soccer-related news. I agree with others here, the magazine should publish its vision for the development of U.S. soccer at the top level and should not be afraid to be critical of poor decisions by elected officials who represent soccer in this great country.

  1. Brian Herbert
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 5:40 p.m.
    I would like to see professional soccer succeed in the USA. However, MLS has a fatally flawed power and incentive structure - something an economics professor should be able to see. Too much power and financial control is at the league level. Its close ties with the US Men's national programs are a problem not an asset. History is littered with stories of governments, corporations and organizations that become insular, inbred, defensive, and unresponsive to the will of the people under such a top-heavy structure. Most of them are overthrown or fail, a few reinvent themselves but only if there is great determination and vision at the top.

  1. Leonardo Perez
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 5:55 p.m.
    Robert Kiernan and David Huff are RIGHT ON with their comments. It really is sickening that we'll see "unemotional Bob" on the sidelines for the USMNT. This also means that Bradley's son and Borenstein will be playing every game for the USA. I don't understand Kennedy's statement that indicates that the USA lost the Ghana game because the players were "flat"? I think Bradley's pass back to Clark started the loss to Ghana. Yet, SA says the loss was due to the players, when the selections for the game was by Bob Bradley. Hell, it's just inconceivable that Gulati would give Smirk Bob another four years!!! I'm an American, so I'll follow the USMNT regardless.

  1. Gus Keri
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 7:12 p.m.
    I haven't seen such a massive opposition to a coaching re-hiring since the re-hiring of the French coach Raymond Domenech after the disasterous Euro 2008. And look what he did to the French team in the WC 2010. It's a bad omen.

  1. Tim Parolini
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 7:26 p.m.
    Mr. Gulati, being trained in the rigors of academia, should understand better than most that a faulty premise yields a faulty conclusion. If he truly believes that the American soccer player is somehow different from other soccer players and needs an "Americanized" approach to be successful, his initial premise is flawed. Yes, the American soccer system is unique (as are other country's in their own way). But the American player needs a coach who "understands the American player" to do what, exactly? Most U.S. Nats train every day with "unAmericanized" coaches. What the American player needs is a coach who understands how to make him a better player and how to implement the tactics that will be successful at the international level. The German national team, who have actually won a few things, seemed to do alright bringing in outside help from American sports psychologists and fitness experts assisting their cause. Didn't appear to have a detrimental effect on their play. "Stability is a positive," said Mr Gulati. Yes, for him I am sure it is. Probably good for the USSF and MLS too. For American soccer, not so much. Bob Bradley is simply not the guy to elevate the USMNT to a higher level. We know who he is and what he can do. At least now the USSF can focus on its bid to host the lucrative World Cup so they can enrich their coffers and do more of...well, whatever it is they do.

  1. David Huff
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 7:44 p.m.
    I don't even savor the opportunity of hosting WC 2018 or 2022 anymore, if we can't have a team that is going to be part of a well-run program that has a fighting chance of going deep into the WC stages. The current approach of USSF guarantees MLS-like mediocrity with respect to the USMNT's future prospects.

  1. Philippe Fontanelli
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 8:28 p.m.
    Gentlemen I am so amazed with all your comments. And it is only American that we protest further. As fans of the US Team ans US Soccer future we need to unite and organize for our words to be heard. And why not protest and demand heads to fall. We need new leadership not only in coaching but at the USSFA. What balls Gulati had to make this utterly unpopular decision! Shame on him!

  1. Kevin Leahy
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 8:58 p.m.
    To say that we have no credibility with the Latino community is, now a forgone conclusion! This coach, who insists that his son should be the playmaker and has no need for the skillful player get's renewed? Young Bradley has a place with USMNT, but not as the playmaker. All writers have hammered on several points and there are more that could be made, but I have never been more disappointed in this federation!!

  1. Kent James
    commented on: August 31, 2010 at 9:37 p.m.
    Although I think Bradley is a good coach, I think now is would have been a good time to replace him. But Kennedy's column makes some good points (not enough to make me change my mind about replacing him, but enough to make me understand that it is not a complete disaster to retain him). The idea that perhaps Bradley is replaced as we get closer to the next WC with someone who is more of a Cup specific coach (Huddink, e.g) is interesting. Of course, many posters have made some pretty accurate criticisms of Bradley's tenure (Robert Kiernan's comments are probably the most devastating critique I've seen). But John Hofman also made a good point; the US is not where we'd like to be yet, and it's not all Bradley (or Gulati's) fault. The path to the semis at the WC was open, and I think people are rightfully upset that we did not take advantage of it, but that's what makes soccer a cruel sport. Good finishing by Ghana finished us. Bradley made some coaching errors, but he was man enough to correct them relatively quickly. And the team did win some pretty exciting games, and such victories should not be dismissed lightly. The bottom line is no coach can take us where we want to go, it's got to be be the players. And right now we don't have the players to get much past where we did unless we have a lot of luck. We especially need forwards who can score goals. The biggest obstacle to US progress is the weakness (lack of) the soccer culture that permeates the big name soccer countries. The fact that Bradley's retention has generated so many emotional comments is a testament to the culture that exists in this website's community, but the number of people in this community is too small. Bradley (and his team) did a lot to generate interest in the broader culture (making it doubly frustrating we didn't go farther when we had their attention!), but people are starting to see and understand. So while I would have preferred we get a new coach (mainly because I think coaches do inevitably become reliant on particular players, and determining when one of those players has declined enough to be replaced is one of the most difficult decisions in sports), retaining Bradley has not destroyed soccer in the US. Bradley is a pretty smart guy, and I hope he'll adapt. If he brings in a bunch of young, skillful players, then maybe there is hope to qualify and challenge for the next WC. Regardless, I"ll be doing my part to support the national team, get people to attend professional soccer matches, and push players to become more skillful and play the beautiful game in hopes that sometime during my lifetime we get a real shot at wining the WC.

  1. Paul Sheirich
    commented on: September 1, 2010 at 12:01 a.m.
    Unfortunately, keeping Bradley exposes the weakness of American soccer, and that is to admit we need to significantly improve our style of play and move away from simply "playing hard." We have to play much smarter. Bradley's use of his son in the playmaking position, as noted by Kevin Leahy is a major flaw that forces poor decisions to be made about who will play where. The structure needed to shift so that Donovan and Dempsey got more touches on the ball, but that WONT happen with MB in the attacking position. They guy is not savvy enough for that spot. Then the use of Altidore who shows zero creativity in his runs, touches, and passing is inexcusable. And, for four years, to NOT find another two or three guys to improve our defensive talent and depth is pathetic. Our system doesn't make it easy to ID talent, but come ON! Their insistence on a US coach shows how little the USSF is willing to accept that the play of the MNT needs to improve. We need a thorough change in leadership.

  1. David Huff
    commented on: September 1, 2010 at 11:40 a.m.
    It's all about MLS and its owners keeping a stranglehold over the USMNT so that they can keep the "American" brand alive lest helpful foreign influences (i.e. non-MLS and non-British) might intrude that would demonstrate that there is more out there in the world to the American soccer consumer. Well I say 'Eff' MLS, USSF, Gulati and Flynn, its time for a fan/player strike to prevent the rise of Domenech II foisted upon us by these clowns. I'll be very happy to watch EPL, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, Mexican, Argentinian and Brasilian league football on FSC and GolTV instead of attending/watching the inferior USSF/MLS product or buying their merchandise.

  1. Brian Herbert
    commented on: September 1, 2010 at 1:14 p.m.
    This has been the most interesting thread of comments I have ever viewed on SA! If Coach Bradley could have the good graces to step down, I think most of us can recognize that WC2010 represented progress for the USMNT, and that he did the best he could. But for him to stay longer will create harm for both his legacy and for soccer in the USA.

  1. Karl Ortmertl
    commented on: September 1, 2010 at 3:23 p.m.
    I agree with many of the comments above. Bradley is limited. He can't coach defense. Defensive blunder after blunder at the World Cup. Having it all set up for us with Ghana and then Uruguay to reach the final four and then blow it to Ghana on two more blunders was hard to take. What was even harder to take was the re-signing instead of resigning of Bradley. This has completely taken the wind out of my sails as a US soccer fan. Klinsmann or Hiddink would have made things so much more upbeat. The writer of this article is correct. The blame lies with Gulati, who is obviously an idiot.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: September 2, 2010 at 12:25 a.m.
    Prof. Sunil Gilati, a scholar he is, but a "soccer-knowledgeable savant he ain't!" It seems to me that he is stuck in a timewarp, when he was - according to a bio I read about him some time ago - involved in youth soccer or whatever, and then went on to be that person who lifted his youth club or adult team - I don't remember which one it was - to some semblance of success and was lauded as being someone who knew how to get the best out of layers,administrators, etc. And so good children, it seems to me that he hasn't gotten himself out of that time warp, and now as he sits on the throne that iw US Soccer, there are very few who would dare challenge him, though it seems that there are quite a few who've commented on the SA article, who indeed would do a better job. And on a last note, politically speaking, look what happened when some people screamed out of their top of their lungs: "four-more years, four more years..." and look what that got us!!! Finally, I dare Soccer america to collect these comments and sent them on to Mr. Gulati, Dan Flynn and the members of the Board of Directors of US Soccer. By the way, does the former president, Alan Rothernberg, and former US Soccer Exec Director, Hank Steinbrecher still sit on the Board??? I wonder what they;re thinking about this ....


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