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Bob Bradley - The Yesterday Man
by Paul Gardner, March 27th, 2011 11:46PM

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TAGS:  argentina, men's national team

MOST COMMENTED

By Paul Gardner

Another reprehensible evening for Bob Bradley and the U.S. national team at the New Meadowlands Stadium. Not as bad as last year's feeble surrender to Brazil, but bad enough.

Of course, a 1-1 tie with Argentina looks like a respectable scoreline, but don’t be fooled. For most of this game, the USA was thoroughly outplayed. Against Brazil, goalkeeper Brad Guzan was voted (by whom?) Man of the Match -- even though he played only 45 minutes. This time Tim Howard got the award, and that tells you everything. The USA still relies heavily on its goalkeepers to stave off embarrassing defeats.

Bradley has now had more than six months in charge in his second spell. That’s ample time to show evidence of a new approach, something fresh, some new and different players, at least an attempt to change the pattern of his college-game thinking.

But nothing has changed, not a thing. This is still a team without style, a team that has nothing better than craven defense to offer in a home game against a strong opponent.

Of course, Bradley denied that. In his well-orchestrated, coach-friendly post-game press conference, he said it wasn’t the USA’s intention to play defensively in the first half, but that Argentina had found its rhythm so quickly that the USA had been forced into a defensive mode.

Oh, really. A team that takes the field with one guy up front, that abjectly retreats into its own half en masse whenever the opponents get the ball, that is so obviously looking for the quick counter, right from the start ... a team with the evident intention of getting through to halftime with a 0-0 scoreline -- this is not a team with a defensive mindset?

The game started with Michael Bradley, unchallenged, hitting a cross-field pass ... that went straight into touch. That was not an aberration. The quality of the U.S. passing, particularly out of the back, was atrocious. Jay DeMerit and Carlos Bocanegra are players whose time has come and gone.

OK, Omar Gonzalez was not available, but is he then the only young replacement? We might have got a look at Tim Ream -- after all, he plays just down the road for the Red Bulls -- but, no, that was evidently considered too risky. So yesterday’s players soldiered crudely on.

Oguchi Onyewu, once a lively, skillful outside back has been turned -- by his coaches, who else? -- into a lumbering, physical center back of doubtful quality. We did get something new defensively when Timothy Chandler came on in the second half -- replacing Jonathan Spector -- the least worrying of the U.S. defenders. But Chandler is not an American-produced player.

Chandler, along with the other second-half sub, Red Bull Juan Agudelo, made a difference, for sure -- it was a difference that they could, presumably, have made much earlier ... had Bradley been willing to start them in a less defensive formation. Too risky, no doubt.

In midfield, the best-ever American player, Landon Donovan, had a totally vapid game. We can blame Donovan -- or should we blame the coach who sends him out in a formation that seemed almost designed to negate Donovan’s undoubted playmaking skills? Jermaine Jones made but one memorable contribution by scything down Lionel Messi.

Clint Dempsey did well enough, under these negative conditions (negative conditions imposed by his own coach, not by the Argentines), while Maurice Edu showed himself, yet again, to be nothing more than the sort of physical enforcer that Bradley admires in midfield. As for Jozy Altidore, the lone stranger up front -- what chance did he have?

Bob Bradley, good old Banality Bob, let fly with the banalities post-game. This game was all good for the USA, it was good for the players to experience the quick way that Argentina moves the ball, the USA’s responses were good, it was a good result against a good opponent. Good, good, good. Good grief! -- but there was more goodness to come.

Asked about Agudelo, Bradley made the standard remark about Agudelo “putting himself into good positions” (is Agudelo auditioning for a role in Kama Sutra, the Musical -- or a place on the national team?) and then commented that he had a “good attitude about working on little things ...”

We’ve been listening to this twaddle about little things for over four years now. How about working on some of the big things, Bob? Like developing a passing game? Something that might mean that goalscoring moves begin to look like a natural part of the USA’s play. That would be a welcome relief from the reliance on smash-and-grab counters or -- as in this game -- on a set-play and a goalkeeper error?

A statistical comment -- one that also tells us a lot about Bradley’s player selection. On the USA’s 18-man roster, only two players -- Donovan and Jonathan Bornstein -- were less than 6 feet tall. Argentina, with a 24-man roster, had 15 players under 6 feet.

Among those 15, the smallest player on the field, the little genius Messi, with his shining, lapidary skills. The contrast between the beautiful artistry of Messi and the sheer lubberly ordinariness of Bradley’s defenders was utterly embarrassing.

Of course, Bradley knows all about Messi, he explained to us about his quick little passes, and his delayed darting runs with the tedious, bloodless detail of a technician who’s been studying the tapes ad nauseam. Defending Messi? Bradley has it all worked out, it means stopping that final pass, either from him, or to him. Sounds simple and clean. No doubt. But mostly it translated as “safety in numbers” -- surrounding Messi with a posse of defenders and simply crowding him out.

Which worked -- up to a point. Messi simply bamboozled everyone with his marvelous dribble that led to Argentina’s goal. And he was unfortunate to be called back in the 63rd minute when he was in the process of ghosting past everyone -- as the referee whistled too early to give Argentina a free kick they could have done without.

Next, it’s Paraguay. Mexico showed, on Saturday, that free-flowing attacking soccer can beat Paraguay. Will Bradley opt for that? Is he capable of even entertaining such an idea? Will he take the risks, which are not that great, of sitting the old guys down and starting the youngsters? Bradley says he is thinking about it.

More than thinking is needed now. Without some evidence -- and we’ve had none so far -- that he is willing to be much more adventurous, Bradley has no future with this team, and the team has no future with Bradley in charge.



0 comments
  1. Todd Drake
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 8:32 a.m.
    100% agreement. It was Classic Bob - poor game strategy, poor tactics, lousy starting formation and choice, and an unwillingness to change it - but at this point the finger has to point to Sunil for keeping Huh Bob around. Again.

  1. Craig Schroeder
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 8:48 a.m.
    Your expectations are way off the mark. You write as if we are Spain or Brazil and we just tied Luxembourg. Indeed, U.S. soccer has come quite a long way in the past 20 years, a short history that has seen our stature on the world scene grow. The growth has come off the backs of great players and coaches, like Bradley. Indeed, there's no better coach in America than Bradley. Tying Argentina, even at home, is an achievement for U.S. soccer. That's the case under any circumstance. Who would you like to see in charge of U.S. soccer and which players would you like on the field that would have gone out there and resoundingly beaten Argentina? You can't name that coach and those players, they don't exist. Gardner, you should not have a soccer column, you might as well write about baseball.

  1. Oswald Viva
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 8:55 a.m.
    I couldn't agree more. Bradley's time has expired together with some of his "irreplacebles". If US soccer is to progress it needs to find a better coach fast. College type soccer won't get us there. It is embarrasing to show the world that we cannot get improve despite the growth of soccer in the US. Donovan and Bradley are being "wasted" in the positions they play; both should be in creative and attacking positions. Skilled players such as Torres and Feilhaber should be in the main picture, but unfortunately Bradley doesn't understand skilled soccer.

  1. Philippe Fontanelli
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 8:55 a.m.
    Thank you Paul I was counting on you to comme through with your anlyzation and comments. Your last sentence describes the reality "Bradley has no future with this team, and the team has no future with Bradley in charge". Note my comment responding to another article written a day before your article(copied) see below; Kudos to you gentlemen; Walt, Paul, Karl, Alex and Andrew. I am so glad that you are not blinded by a quasi favorable result vs. Argentina. First of all Bradley is an idiot sending the formation of the first half, he has absolutely no clue of the game. How can he send (poor) Altidore lone stiker facing a powerhouse Argentine defense? It was totally inane and futile; w/o purpose nor results. This set up only freed up the whole Argentine defense to outnumber and overpower our midfield. The lone striker alone couldn't hold the ball and was quickly overtaken. This doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out. However with the 2 strikers up front the Argetine defense got busy thus relieved the pressure on our midfield. It's a numbers game. It wasn't that Bradley made a genious move because the struggling was still there to an extent. Had he used Donovan /Dempsey in attacking midfield position distributing to the two forwards the result might have been even better as the momentum was on our side. BTW, I have been commenting over and over that Donovan's true position is the attacking midfield, right behind the forwards and he becomes the third forward with the attack. But where would that leave Junior? Who is too busy passing backwords instead of forward. Also, Junior at Cambiasso's goal he bought a ticket to watch the game, as he just stopped as he was bypassed and stood watching the events. I don't know if he has applauded to goal? You want him in defense? Maybe? I would send him to the "salt mines" with his father. I think Junior is a mediocre sub at best but not a starter. He can't even start in bottom of the table European Teams (a bench warmer) and you want marquee him againt major National Teams of the world? Need I say more? Where is Paul Gardner with his comments?

  1. Albert Harris
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 9 a.m.
    I think Paul's point is that we will never develop the players we would like to see playing for the national team if we don't show we value them. And Bob Bradley clearly doesn't value the skillful player. If he had Messi, he'd probably have him on the bench until he learned to "track back". And by the way, as to whether or not there are better coaches in the US than Bob, no one says the coach has to be an American, and that widen the selection field quite a bit. Even in the USA, there are also coaches like Jason Kreis who seem to feel that you can play attacking soccer and not the "safety first" college game that our Bob and Arena have played. I weep to think of the waste we've made of the outstanding soccer player in our generation who spent most of Saturday under orders to track back and help out the defense. Ah, Landon me lad, what have they done to thee!

  1. John Roode
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 9:19 a.m.
    Bradley's lack of understanding of the 4-5-1 is baffling. A coach at his level should know better than to put players in the positions he puts them in. I'm not even sure where to start... but I'll start with Donovan. Why he continues to play our best goal-scorer ever in midfield is criminal. I wouldn't give Donovan a lick of defensive responsibility, much less defensive responsibilities on the flank. He needs to be either the first or second player in the box. In the 4-5-1 that would be the front-runner (which he played quite well in Japan in 2002 BTW) or behind the front-runner as a withdrawn striker. Which leads me to the discussion about the lack of understanding of that system. In the 4-5-1, the player behind the "1" is actually a second striker and combines with the top player or utilizes the space the top player makes with his runs. By playing Jones there, you are leaving Altidore to do almost everything by himself. Secondly, Harkes mentioned the triangle in the middle. Well, it looked to me like the triangle had the tip at the bottom with M Bradley playing a lone defensive mid position... which is incredible given his lack of defensive skills and athleticism. The Argentines had a field day there. The tip should have been at the top with twin defensive mid-fielders in front of the center-backs and the "attacking mid" which is actually a withdrawn striker above those two. Lastly, Dempsey is NOT a midfielder (at least on this team). His work rate on the flank was horrible. He has a striker mentality and needs to play up (He probably is the second best goal-scorer on the team... so the same thing applies to him as does Donovan). I could go on and on. But it's clear to me that Bradley has gone as far as he can go. He needs to go away now.

  1. Rick Figueiredo
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 9:37 a.m.
    The USA players were outplayed, the team was out-coached and the score of 1-1 is astonishing considering that Argentian really should have won by 5-0 and must have had a 70-30 possession advantage. Howard played a superb game, though Argentina failed to exploit Howard's weakness which is low corner shots and upper v's. Regardless. Argentina displayed magnificent passing skills but unlike Brasil in the Scotland game, they failed to shoot at goal more. Lots of penetration into box without a shot. Now the bad news. This game just shows how far behind in the world the USA actually is in player talent, tactical knowledge and coaching. Yes they beat Spain. Every team has it's great moments. But back to this game. It was not Bradley's fault. When Landon Donovan is the best you have on the field that is very telling. Juan by the way is an interesting prospect. I liked that kid. Well, maybe in the year 2030 the USA might finally become competitive in the World Cup. Consider the fact that Mourinho (a club coach) is pulling in 19 million while Bradley under 1 million a year base salary. That alone is very telling.

  1. Mike Fredsell
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 9:44 a.m.
    If Sunil had hired Jurgen Klinsman we would have started on a much needed path. He would have installed a philosophy for the whole National Team Program that would produce creative players. Not that we don't have those players already, we have them because I've seen them play but Bob and his National Team Coaches chose not to pick them. There is a fact here that most people don't know and that is most coaches in the US cannot coach a creative player. If they get one on their team they stifle them and won't let them on the field unless the game is out of hand. So Sunil decides that it is better for 4 more years of mediocrity with Bob than to revamp our sysytem so we can consistantly compete on an international level with Klinsman. We will never compete with the likes of Spain, France and Brazil unless we can put the same type of team on the field. It's about time we all wake up or we'll be in the same boat 4 years from now as we are today.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 9:53 a.m.
    First half was abysmal, second half was much better. Bob Bradley is neither the cause of the weakness of American soccer nor it's savior; he is a what passes for a good coach in the modern game. Against a more skillful team, he plays a stifling defense with almost everyone packing the area from the top of the 18 to about 25 yds out, and looks to counter. I abhor this approach, but 90% of modern coaches would take it against Argentina (case in point, every game Spain played in the WC, including against the Dutch; THE DUTCH, inventors of total football!). Yes, against Argentina in a friendly it would have been great to see him put out a lineup that attempted to match Argentina with quickness and ball skill (Feilhaber, Torres, Bornstein, etc.), but since Argentina is better than us at that game, we probably would have lost taking that approach. But, especially in a friendly, it would have been fun to watch. The main problem is that coaches live and die based on wins and losses, and as long as such defensive tactics bring results (and it is tough to argue that the US tying Argentina, especially when Argentina was playing well, is a good result for the US), we'll keep seeing them. So keep up the drumbeat for using more skillful players Paul, but don't hold your breath.

  1. cony konstin
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 10:23 a.m.
    If you are going to fail at least fail glorilessly. It does not matter if the US beats Argentina, plays bad, ties or loses. Why? Because soccer in America is seen by the masses as a hobby. US has good players but we don't have any magical players. This is not Bradley's fault this is our fault. Because the people who make soccer decisions in soccer our mostly parents who have no clue of what soccer really is. That is why you have many coaches in the US who bullcrap these parents in believing that they have the anwser to the game. There is only one anwser. For the US to become passionate about the game, for the US to create magical players, for the US to win a world cup, the US needs to get rid of all of these well intentional parents, money making coaching system for kids, and create a sandlot, playground soccer environment that is for free, 7 days a week, for kids starting at age 5. Until then all of the critics, parents, fans and coaches can continue to say what they want and do what they you want. But you can not make chicken soup out of chicken @@@@. It is better for the US to lose 20 to nothing and play the game the way it was meant to be played then to play trenched hail mary soccer. For the US to win a world cup with what we have. We need to let our players be free to fail. Our players hands and legs are tied up because are coaches are not risk takers nor creative. We have attacking players but some of them need to be converted into defenders so our defenders can go forward. Spain won the world cup simply because all of their defenders could go foward. Bradely has time to take guys who are forwards in the US and convert them into defenders. If he doesn't do that then the US will not make another step towards ever winning a world cup. This move take guts and the will to fail. But it must be done. Remember one other thing coach Bradley you must emphasis rotation on the field of play. The players are playing too much in straight lines. Good luck coach Bradley and please take a chance in making some big changes for soccer in America. Again I rather lose a bunch to nothing then keep playing the way we have been for too many years. Attack Attack Attack relentlessly in waves like the Pacific Ocean. This is the way the US players want to play.

  1. Andrew Post
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 10:51 a.m.
    PAUL! KEEP IT COMING! There should be more than just criticism for Bradley. We need to be criticising those who renewed his contract. This autrocity starts at the top and trickles down to BOB. I'm tired of coaches like bradley who look at the beautiful game and say "i'm going to play the American style, I'm going to play my own way". Let us not forget, many of these players play in Europe and play a style that is not defensive minded and values possesion. PAUL, PLEASE CONTINUE TO VOICE CRITICISM OF THIS AWFUL COACH. AND BY THE WAY....CAN YOU SPEAK THE TRUTH ABOUT MICHAEL BRADLEY AS WELL. HE'S AWFUL TOO.

  1. Bob Escobar
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 10:53 a.m.
    As always, a "favorable result" a 1-1 game against Messi and company, but really, was the score indicative of the way the USA play (defend at all cost and not get beat) a good way to improve a much needed "style of play" the USA needs at this time? Nope, we need a style of play that will help the USA for many years to come...we need to have "attacking players" starting from the defenders all the way to the forwards...we have athletic kids but that's all we have, somehow "finesse players with a high level of skills" should be giving a chance to play on a regular basis. Bradley loves the "aggressive defend at all cost players", unfortunately he has way too many playing at once without "trying" to "create" a much needed offensive system with skillful players. Bob Bradley has proven through the year "he can't coach skillful players"....but remember, at one time he was the head coach of Princeton university, so he is a typical college coach coaching our national team for 4 more years....wow! and I know some of you mentioned that Bob Bradley is the "best coach in the USA", that tells us we are in "deep trouble" if you Bradley lovers are right. Paul Gardner is a very knowledgeable writer, the best the USA ever had...and yes, he is an Englishman...an Englishman that understand how futbol have revolutionized the last 20-25 years. College coaches are at best "mediocre coaches with very limited knowledge of the game", they understand and support Bob Bradley's style of play better than most of us that sit and watch this kind of game we in America call "soccer". There is no difference watching a college team, MLS team or the USA National team play...they are all bad, and we wonder when the USA fans will start embracing "futbol" the way they love watching and following "football, basketball, baseball, hockey and even lacrosse". I've coached youth teams in the USA for the last 30 years and taught many kids the way the "beautiful game" famous quote by the greatest player in the world (Pele) once said before, to see them go to college and be ruined by "mindless kick and run, defend at all cost" college coaches. The best college coach in the country is a kid by the name of Caleb Porter, University of Akron coach....the only coach that teaches kids ow to play the "beautiful game", by the way Caleb Porter can't be more than 5'6"-5'7" tall....one "very good coach" amongst thousand bad ones that teach the "defend at all cost, hustle, track back, skilless soccer" the American people see on TV and college games across the nation year after year...kudos to you Mr Gardner!

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 11 a.m.
    Again Paul you are right on the money. I couldn't agree more. Bradley must go.Playing for ties at home in a friendly makes no sense whatsoever. I would rather lose by a big score trying to play attractive creative soccer than to see the same old stuff from the same old players.Big lumbering giants in the back lacking the skill or the confidence to play balls through the midfield. Wasting the talents of Donovan and Dempaey. But, you know,I blame Dempsey and Donovan as well. If they are great players they need to take over the team, overcome the coaches fears and find ways to attack. I am sure Messi on his own finds ways to combine with his teamates anywhere. As with all the great managers/coaches, they leave their creative players alone to make the game for the team. Our players, as is the American way, are so conditioned to follow orders obey the coach, they cannot think for themselves.

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 11:30 a.m.
    Paul, thank you for not defending the indefensible. Bob Bradley has ruined a generation of soccer players in the USA, and has been handed the reigns to destroy another. Team selection, technical direction, team formation, player retention, tactical awareness, etc... Bob and his staff under Sunil Gulati have FAILED in every area. The only thing Bob can do is make the obvious adjustments after he messes it up in the first place. He is a dinosaur. It is time for youth on the team and in the staff. There is a younger generation that wants to play attractive, attacking, and winning soccer.

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 11:33 a.m.
    Walt, great point about the players finding their own way. What I called for, and what was needed was our men to have their own "Hope Solo" moment at the end of the WC South Africa. Too bad Hope had more testosterone than the boys...

  1. David Sirias
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 12:14 p.m.
    Why oh why does does BB get a pass for playing his kid every freakin meaningful minute? Junior is not Messi. We need not build the midfield around him. Junior is not even getting minutes at his club. The result is that we dont EVER get to see a midfield partnership that has any offensive spark to it. (And don't get me going that we dont have a world class #10) We will never have one unless we play one. Donovan is at the age now(with enough talent around him now) where his efficacy will be in leading this next cycle as a true CAM if BB is not ready to hand over the keys to a younster. And to those of you who defend BB on the premise that we just don't have the talent, I call BS. We have the talent to compete. But you can't win if you have no attackers called up or lined up. So what if we lose to Argentina. It's a friendly, but the experience for the youngsters would have been priceless. And no one should want Boca, Demerit or Gooch at the Gold Cup. They were loyal servants to whom we owe much respect. But their time is up. Demand it Paul!

  1. David Sirias
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 12:18 p.m.
    And one more thing Paul, demand that the Federation hire Marco Bielsa after the Gold Cup, and make Jason Kries his understudy That would be the most important, positive development in US Soccer since the formation of MLS.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 12:38 p.m.
    All comments on yesterday's game - save one, by C. Schroeder - second one - are very right on the nose! Spot on Paul Gardner! When my daughter called me to remind me of the game at the 10th minute, I saw some Gaod-awful US play! And so as the first half progressed, it was obvious that Banality Bob demonstrated to the soccer playing world, that he's once again way over his head! Even the Spanish language announcers were decrying the fact the US could not even string along ten consecutive passes- well I mispeak as they may have put together five passes! - and later on said that they counted at least 25-30 consecutive passes during the first half! And even my wife, who is soccer knowledgable, commented that at one time late in the game, not even five US players were able to strip the ball from Messi's feet!!! That the US scored was short of a mircable, and thanks to Agudelo, but then again I digress because in the first half Altidore tried to pull a Messi, i.e. outdribble one or two Argentine defenders only to have the ball stripped from him so deftly and easily that it was downright embarrassing! When the camera panned/focused on Dempsey and or Donovan, their look of consternation and bewilderment was so apparent that I expected them right then and there to take the situation into their own hands. But no, there seems to be some "fear" against Banality Bob that is if they make a mistake or don't follow pre-gram preparations/instructions they'll find themselves members of the timber squad! Lastly Bill Anderson above called it just right: "(Hope) Solo had more testoreone than the boys...(sic)" So how about it "boys" are you game to speak your mind?

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 1:04 p.m.
    Awesome comments across the board. Couldn't agree more with the tenor of all these remarks (except for Craig Schroeder --sorry Craig). Bob Escobar's highlighting of Caleb Porter was especially appreciated. It's pretty obvious that those of us who enjoy Paul's comments and usually (not always) agree with him share some characteristics. I choose to think that one of those is an attachment to the "game" itself rather than to a specific team or player. While we root for the US, we place a higher priority on how we play, style, rather than what the specific result is at a given time/place. Despite that, I believe that we want the US to win and are confident that by concentrating on improving the style/skill we ultimately will become winners. On the other side are many fans for whom soccer is generally an enjoyable pastime that they play and watch with winning as their highest priority. Unfortunately, US Soccer and its coaching establishment are firmly on the latter side, no matter what their level of purely technical or tactical expertise may be. There is also a functional difference between our two camps -- those for whom style is less important, are quite willing to let style evolve over "time" -- we are talking geologic time here; while the more esthetically inclined want an active effort to develop style first and let winning evolve over time. Although the "style" faction is in the minority overall and particularly in the upper echelons of the US Soccer establishment, there are signs that inroads are being made: more Hispanic players are appearing in the younger US National Teams (to be weeded out later by BB the pessimist in me says); Barcelona is being hailed more and more as an exemplar of how soccer should be played (Wayne Rooney, Tab Ramos); MLS coaches (some) are bringing in more and more Hispanic players and espousing (if not totally playing) a short passing, skill based game; US Soccer is rumored to be interested in bringing in Marcelo Bielsa as overall Technical Director??; and finally, an anecdote--a highly successful pro-am team in the NPSL celebrated an especially good season after which the players were questioned on how to improve their team. Several of the players stated that they felt they were capable of playing a much more skillful and entertaining style than the coach had implemented! The jury is out on whether the coach will make any changes!!! It would appear that we have a chicken or egg issue here: does skill ultimately win or does winning eventually evolve into skill? For me, it's skill first, every time.

  1. Soccer Innovations
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 1:39 p.m.
    Paul, with all due respect, I think you are a bit too critical. The USA has come a long, long way and the performance of our boys to me, was very admirable. I have played and coached at a high level and when you see the speed of play not to mention technical ability of Argentina and expect our young Soccer Nation to match that, well its a bit outlandish. And a tremendous task for Bob Bradley or anyone to figure out what tactic to employ against such a power. As compact and organized as our team was, Messi and company were still magicians and a team of incredible skill. Maybe unmatched by anyone outside of Spain or Brazil. Bob's chosen tactics may have kept the USA in the game. Can you imagine what Messi and Co. could have done had we left them a bit more space as we sent more numbers forward in the first half? While the Argentines were fresh and excited? It may have put the match out of reach, early. Instead, the USA had many chances in the second half as Argentina cooled off and tired slightly. I thought it was a brilliant turn out and an exciting game even when our boys were chasing in the first half. Unless our sports culture changes, we will never raise a team of players like that Argentina group. But, what other country is able to? It was a great performance in my eyes. And that outside right kid from Germany is a keeper! Jimmy Elder-Soccer Innovations

  1. David Huff
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 2:08 p.m.
    This is the bill of goods that has been 'sold' to the US Soccer fan for the next three years by the powers-that-be at MLS/SUM/USSF, including their stooges Flynn and Gulati. It's definitely lined up to be another re-run of the first bad movie that we had for 2006-2010, none of this comes as a teriible surprise. Any remaining doubts as to the mediocrity approach based on pandering to MLS interests should have been extinguished by the rejection of Klinsmann the 2nd time around and MLS Bob's rehiring. They simply do not care about the product on the field for the USMNT, they want primary exposure for MLS and its player pool and they don't want scheduling interference caused by callups for CONCACAF Gold Cup or invitations from CONMEBOL to Copa America. Did you know that the United States had been invited every time from 1997 to the present but have turned down the invitation due to scheduling conflicts with Major League Soccer? The one exception was in 2007 when the US sent a reduced squad that performed poorly (so now further justification as to why we shouldn't attend?!). The whole attitude at USSF/MLS/SUM is maddening, Bradley's rehiring by these clowns is the reason I gave up my season tickets to an MLS club plus boycotting the merchandise and games promoted by the three organizations. I enjoy soccer life much more watching the Champions League, La Liga etc. on FSC and FS Plus at a fraction of the cost plus avoiding the annoyance that I used to experience with USSF and MLS.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 2:26 p.m.
    Jimmy Elder, with all due respect (sarcasm not intended), your entry provided the perfect example of the point I was trying to make. Almost every other comment today, including Paul's original article is concerned with the abysmal style of play of the US team. Your comment was solely concerned with the outcome. In addition to the points that I made above, I believe that it should be noted that the purpose of international friendlies isn't solely or even primarily to win (except maybe for the lesser team). It is primarily a means for national teams to experiment, try out new players and generally build team dynamics, on and off the field. Obviously the results count, as exemplified by your satisfaction and probably many Argentinian fans disappointment. However, in the grand scheme of things, these results meant nothing but the lasting take-away is that the US still doesn't measure up skill-wise on the international stage.

  1. Joe Linzner
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 4:04 p.m.
    I agree, the outcome is the least of the issues that confronted our national team vs. Argentina. First the formation is one geared towards defense more so than offense. Secondly, choice of personnel in the various positions was ultimately ludicrous. Even the idea of defense and rapid counter is laughable with a single striker up front unless that player is of Messi's ilk and even then, alone eve he would have trouble scoring. Altidore is simply a player who cannot hold the ball, either when receiving nor when going one on one. His one strength is speed and secondly he luckily redirects the ball but only if he is not pressured. Even with 9 players behind the ball, Argentina still penetrated at will. Every repulsed attack immediately resulted in a renewed attack due to panic strikes away from the American goal immediately resulting in another uncontested turn over. Lumberjack soccer at best. Chop and block. An archaic form of the game. In actuality Argentina's continued desire to penetrate up the middle actuality saved us. Had they taken some outside shots and lightning crosses and not even Howard could have saved. Had they mixed up the attack we would have been a few goals behind by half time. Even the 4-4-2 we utilized in the second half, although it presented better options still showed us to be a team of lumberjacks. It is truly time to remove the head and recycle the old guard to the hall of retired soldiers. There are youngsters in waiting who have more on the ball and can actually receive a ball without it bouncing 50 feet away on first touch. Or seeing an overrun possibility intuitively and make use of the slightly higher skills so aptly demonstrated by the Albiceleste.....The first half was soccer magic and I hope that is what will get analyzed and not our inability to cope with it. I still advocate a 3-2-3-2 because of it's ability to switch from defense to offense and morphing into a 5-3-2 and visa verso. Watch the tape and tell me what Argentina positioning resulted in when they seemed they were everywhere on the field. It really does not matter what position is set up when they line up for kick-off. What matters is how they position themselves on the field during the course of play. We'll never see that sort of field positioning as long as the siege mentality of our coaches keeps harping defense above all else. Attack as a surprise. SAD the result, on paper may be palatable but the game in situ was deplorable.

  1. Andrew Saunders
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 4:51 p.m.
    So true Paul. Also, the MF never takes out his son...who is slow and has the touch of a donkey. Keep doing your thing.

  1. Theodore Eison
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 4:51 p.m.
    Surprised that more didn't echo Craig's sentiments. Mr. Gardner, your columns are the same thing over and over again -- I'm frankly surprised you still have this column. The USA doesn't have the same talent level as Argentina. These are our best players, and they haven't had an opportunity to play together really since the World Cup, and we have a major competition coming up. We came out looking like a different side in the second half -- Bob made the necessary adjustments. In the World Cup, we looked better with a 4-5-1 and our roster now supports that. Agudelo performed well in a 4-4-2 but starting him against Argentina in his 3rd cap is a tall order. I wish you'd do your homework, Mr. Gardner.

  1. Philippe Fontanelli
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 5:15 p.m.
    It's amazing and great to see how many of you have responded and positively to Paul Gardner's article. It was probably one of the best, better than "Banality Bob" one and rightfully depicting Bradley's Faux Pas' and complete ignorance of the game. On the other hand it is also great to see that so many of you/us also see the same. Bradley is a nepotist low life scum bag who should be embarassed of himself taking this position that he has no right to because he is knowlingly will take US Soccer to demise!

  1. Michael Haltom
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 6:10 p.m.
    We just have to face the truth. The USA has become the Stoke City of international soccer.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 6:56 p.m.
    Bradley's tactics are 'let's not lose'...the creative players that he has get second fiddle to the physical ones. Team movement is hardly ever effective and counters seem to lack committment and numbers. When Donovan, the "best American player" doesn't get 30-40 touches in a game means that much creativity that is lost...and it'stime for Bob to sit his son down and see what the others can do.

  1. Bill Ford
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 7:28 p.m.
    Thank you Paul, well said! Thanks for not the being a cheerleader for bad soccer.

  1. Vic Flegel
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 7:31 p.m.
    All you geniouses,where are these superior and more talented players at,that BB is supposed to be fielding?

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 9:49 p.m.
    We will certainly never know until we actually start looking for them and actually start telling the coaching establishment that what they are sending up is not satisfactory. BB never speaks out on the failings of the soccer establishment because he is part of it and is too timid to risk alienating his bosses and peers -- that's why he was the perfect "fallback" option when Klinsmann told US Soccer to stuff it!!!

  1. Paolo Jacobs
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 10:27 p.m.
    luv u Paul, lol I wonder what Klinnsman thought of the performance?.. 1st half: terrible 2nd half: much better we should always play w/ 2 strikers... forget that crappy defensive formation

  1. Paul Bryant
    commented on: March 28, 2011 at 11:01 p.m.
    We are witnessing the end of an era. After this current WC cycle, Donovan, Onyewu, Bocanegra, Churudolo, Demerit, Spector, Dempsey, and Bob Bradley will not be part the USMNT. I suspect that the turnover will occur sooner than later.

  1. Alvaro Bettucchi
    commented on: March 29, 2011 at 12:23 a.m.
    I, and many of my friends look forward to Paul Gardner and his insights into Soccer. We don't always agree with him, but he hit it right on this one. We had Bruce Arena, and he did a good job, but it was time to leave. Bradly has taken the National team a step further, but it's now time for him to step aside. WeIt's a must that we need a coach that will take the USA to the next level. If not, we will continuously be left behind.

  1. Carl Walther
    commented on: March 29, 2011 at 11:40 a.m.
    I was going to leave a comment, but the rest of you already said what I was going to. Why is Paul one of the few who sees things the way they are?

  1. Joe Shoulders
    commented on: March 29, 2011 at 12:09 p.m.
    I was at the game and I could not agree more. It wasn't even close. It would be refreshing to see more players like José Francisco Torres, Hercules Gomez and yes, even Freddy Adu. These are exceptionally talented players with abilities not typical of the US players we've seen representing the USMNT. Freddy Adu is a sad story really. He's a player that do things that very few can do, but is consistently under-appreciated by koaches in the US and overseas. It makes one think that under the current US Soccer koaching philosophy players like Messi, Garrincha, Maradona, Best or Iniesta would have never reached the top level.

  1. David Huff
    commented on: March 29, 2011 at 4:06 p.m.
    The bottom line here is that USSF (as controlled by MLS and SUM) through its willing operatives Flynn and Gulati is marketing an inferior product with an inferior coach. That said, given the $$ that USSF and SUM generates one can understand why they feel that they are not accountable. If fans feel strongly enough about this deplorable situation then they should boycott games, purchasing licensed merchandise etc. until such time that Bradley gets his just reward of being sacked.


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