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Bradley fiddles while the USA burns
by Paul Gardner, June 28th, 2011 2:40AM

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TAGS:  gold cup, men's national team, mexico

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By Paul Gardner

Losing a vital home game is never going to look good. When your opponent comes back from 2-0 down, when it scores four goals and could easily have had more ... well, the coach and the players have to be ready for a blizzard of abuse.

So Bob Bradley and his team are duly being taken to task. I’ve been reading a great deal of the criticism, and I’ve taken a look at the “official” quotes from Bradley and various players that are posted on the USSF’s web site.

It is the tactical explanations, or more accurately, the tactical excuses, that irritate me most. Bradley should have done this or that, why didn’t he do the other, what was he thinking, he should have made this or that move.

As though one or two simple and (to the critic) glaringly obvious moves would have turned that 4-2 defeat into a glorious victory. The immediate problem, of course, is that a lot of the solutions are contradictory. They can’t all be right, then. But it is the alternative -- that they are, all of them, wrong -- that appeals to me.

I believe they are all wrong -- not because the tactical reasoning they contain may be faulty (some of it is quite clever) -- but because they are irrelevant. I do not believe that shifting a few players around, or altering the “formation,” or making “better” use of substitutions, or having to find a way to cope with an unexpected injury contain the key to explaining this woeful result.

Take that last point. I said “unexpected” injury -- but surely a team has to be prepared for that sort of emergency? It should not collapse because of the absence of one player. Unless, perhaps, the team has no depth at all, and the replacement borders on the disastrous. That was hardly the case here, but we are being asked to believe that with the sudden disappearance of Steve Cherundolo, the rot set in.

That notion is surely disprovable anyway -- the Mexicans were already beginning to cut a formidable swath through the American lines even before Cherundolo (ironically, victim of a collision with one of his own players, the clumsy Jermaine Jones) departed.

Nevertheless, the Cherundolo incident is the strongest of pointers to the real nature of the USA’s problems, because it deals with the quality of the American players.

Not good enough. Bradley’s team was second-best in every department -- including the one area where one can usually guarantee American superiority, goalkeeping. Tim Howard had a stinker -- which of course passed completely unnoticed by our TV analysts who find it impossible ever to criticize anything done or not done by St. Tim.

Elsewhere on the field, among the real soccer positions, the American players, all of them, were out-thought, out-run and, yes, out-muscled by the Mexicans.

Out-muscled? Now that, of all things, should never happen. I mean if we can’t be assured that Americans will always out-hustle their opponents, will always work harder, then the sky must be falling.

In the soccer sense, the sky is falling. It has been threatening to for quite a while. During this past year -- the year during which the re-appointed Bradley was supposed to be giving us something new and revivified (and to be avoiding staleness) we’ve seen the USA utterly humiliated by a young Brazil, embarrassed by Argentina, and swept aside by Spain. There are, if you’re looking for excuses, reasons for all those disturbing results.

But the reasons get more and more threadbare as they pile up. Now we are confronted with a poor Gold Cup, a loss to lowly Panama and a wipeout by Mexico. The alarming reality, then, is that things are not getting better. They are getting worse.

Bradley, quite possibly, is getting the best out of his players -- though, after the Gold Cup final, that is a difficult position to defend -- but is he selecting the best players in the first place? Again, quite possibly he is. We may well be that short of good players.

So the problem starts with a player pool, then, that is simply not good enough? Not quite. It starts with the coaches and the system that allowed an inferior player pool to take shape. It starts with coaches who, even today, see nothing wrong with that player pool, who continue to welcome players into it who are not, and never will be, top players. Players who are being judged by the wrong criteria, even by non-soccer criteria such as size.

Bob Bradley, and his generation -- most of them college coaches -- must take a huge responsibility for the current talent pool. They are the people whose narrow-mindedness has landed us, after around four decades of increasingly sophisticated “youth development” programs, with a talent pool that has not produced a properly functioning national team.

In fact, a talent pool that cannot produce the elite players we need.

The failure of Bradley and his generation of basically college coaches has always been a failure of vision, an inability to take the broader look at the game. Bradley, like so many of his ritually diploma bedecked peers, is obsessed with the details and minutiae of coaching, which he genuinely believes are the keys to ... to what? I should be able to say “to good soccer,” but I’ve seen no evidence to support that notion. What is being sought, I fear, is nothing more complicated than winning games. Winning by coaching, that is.

To hear Bradley go on about the “little things” of coaching (and of playing, it’s not clear to me that Bradley makes any distinction) is to be confronted, head on, with the prosaic nature of his approach, his refusal -- or maybe, inability -- to embrace the bigger picture.

After each of the games mentioned above, Bradley has told us that he and his players have learned certain things (always small things, of course) that can be used “as we move forward.” Well, we’re not moving forward. We’re sliding backward.

It’s an old phrase, but it’s a good one to describe Bradley’s view of soccer: he can’t see the forest for the trees. On Saturday, the forest that is Mexico swept down upon the USA, and like Shakespeare’s advancing Birnam Wood signaling the end for Macbeth, exposed the poverty of Bradley’s “getting the little things right” approach.

Of course the little things are there. But the tendency of modern coaches to exalt them does not, I feel, spring from any genuine belief in their ultimate importance, but rather from a desire to look clever, to pose as sage observers of “little things” that the great unwashed -- you and me, for a start -- are too dim to spot.

Certainly, the little things -- some of them, anyway -- will be important. But they are not to be considered as the ultimate end point. They are the means of attaining that end ... but that end needs to be clearly defined. I have never heard Bradley make that clear definition, or describe how he wants his team to be playing, nor have I ever read anything in which he outlines it. The central document here, I would think, is a 5,000 word interview that Bradley gave to Grant Wahl a couple of years ago.

In it, Bradley has a lot to say in praise of Barcelona, but repeatedly stresses his admiration for what that team does when it loses the ball. Does Bradley want his teams to play like Barcelona? We’re never told. We do learn, though, that virtually all of Bradley’s terms of reference -- whether talking of styles or clubs or players -- are European.

Bradley sees fit to praise Barca for what it does when it does not have the ball (immediately recalling to me the priceless statement of Norway’s coach, Egil Olsen, “We’re the best team in the world -- without the ball” -- and, yes, we were meant to take that seriously). And I can level a damning indictment of Bradley’s view of soccer by looking at what he does not say in the Wahl interview.

In all those 5,000 words, Bradley does not mention Brazil at all. Not a single mention. Argentina gets mentioned once. Latin American soccer is not an area of interest for Bob Bradley, despite his claim that he follows the game “around the world.”

It is this blind spot that I find so damaging to Bradley’s credentials. He has just seen his team made to look utterly amateurish by Mexico -- a Latin team giving us a pretty good display of the Latin game.

This must pose a massive problem for Bradley. Because the fact is that the USA could be playing like Mexico. That Mexican team that shredded the USA last Saturday ... that could be the USA. Simply change their shirts -- because we have a growing abundance of Latin talent in this country that could produce that sort of team, with that sort of style. A style that, in 90 minutes, reduced the pretensions of Bradley and his little details to a nonsense.

It’s also worth noting that Mexico is a young team, with over half the team below the age of 23. I repeat, we have the raw material in this country -- provided it is given the right encouragement and preparation, and always provided that it isn’t snatched away, probably by Mexico, because we don’t seem to appreciate it -- from which to produce bright youngsters of the type that made Mexico such a joy to watch, and such a problem for the U.S. players to cope with.

But we shall never get to exploit that talent with the likes of Bob Bradley in charge. For whatever reason, Bradley does not feel comfortable with the Hispanic style. His half-hearted attempts to introduce a Hispanic or two into his team have not gone well. Of course not, because his heart is clearly not in the process.

While turning a blind eye to Hispanic talent, Bradley will continue to concentrate on the sturdy athletes from his Princeton college days, and the USA will continue to resemble a college team more than a genuine national team. Of all Bradley’s choices and decisions during his five years as head coach, none was more revealing of his inability to shed his college background than his choice of Jesse Marsch as an assistant coach. A post that could have, should have, gone to someone who could add some variety to the coaching staff. Instead, Bradley called in a player from his Princeton days -- one who is on record as declaring that all Brazilian players are divers.

Not good enough. The Bradley route is a dead end, his “little things” approach is a bankrupt policy. In Bradley we have a technician, fascinated by twiddling nobs and adjusting nuts and bolts. We need, at this moment in the development of the American game, something quite different. A coach who can lift his gaze from the nuts and bolts to the horizon where hope and promise glitter. We need something of the visionary, a coach who can grasp the promise that this country presents, and who can make the big decisions to turn that promise into a stylish and flourishing national team.

Expecting any of that from Banality Bob Bradley is asking too much of the man. He cannot do it, and he is therefore not the man to lead American soccer forward.



0 comments
  1. gary at 3four3.com k
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 5:10 a.m.
    Oh Paul. You're one of the very few in this country I wouldn't muzzle.

  1. Eric Shinn
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 8:43 a.m.
    Ok, I've disagreed with some of your columns before, but this....this should be tacked to every door in Sunil Gulati's office! Seriously...just a fantastic article, and I couldn't agree more with the entire thing. Very well done!

  1. Marc Silverstein
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 8:48 a.m.
    agreed, not really much more to say.

  1. Kerry Solomon
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 8:50 a.m.
    Bingo! The US is predictable most of the time and overall lack basic ball skills and creativity. They tend to lack the mental and physical toughness of teams before them. This is a reflection of the coach. Change is needed to advance the cause.

  1. Fidel Colman
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 8:52 a.m.
    Right on Paul!

  1. Robert Ehrlich
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 8:53 a.m.
    You've shown why most countries replace their coaches after World Cups. They tend to get stale. If Gulati doesn't make a change, he should be replaced, as well...

  1. James Hardern
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 8:58 a.m.
    I agree with all of this - but Mr Gardner fails to hit the real nail on the head - US Soccer. Can't fault Bob for being what he is; he's not capable of anything else. But what about Sunil Gulati? This is where the real failure is, and this is where the real change must occur. Let's face it - we will qualify for 2014, but we will bow out of the group stage because that is where our quality is at. Our best players will be on the wrong side of 30, and there do not appear to be any international level defenders coming into their prime that seem ready to replace Bocanegra, Cherundolo and Onyewu. But perhaps there is hope for 2018 - if change at the very top happens now. Question is, is there any real hope for that change?

  1. Philippe Fontanelli
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 9:05 a.m.
    I was waiting for this article from PG, it is about time. He is the only one that has the guts to point to the main culprit Bradley (and indirectly to Gulati). The TV crew all of them suck they are spineless brown nosers, as they know the difference but they fail to speak up. Again thanks PG!

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 9:42 a.m.
    Paul has once again articulated what we are all feeling. But the problem goes far deeper than just Bradley. Our entire system and methods must be overhauled. We need a leader that will have the authority to change everything in US Youth soccer. I believe we are once again at square one. I agree with Paul, there is a talent pool out there but, our current youth coaches don’t want to find it. Money is the problem. There are too many professional trainers at the youth levels that are dependent on making a living from the pay they receive at the club levels. They tend to select only players that can afford to pay, and those are the players that get the most opportunities to be seen by the top National Team Staffs. No matter what is done now, nothing will change unless professional clubs each have their own fully sponsored youth teams staffed by trainers with the goal of developing high level skilled players. Pro clubs should also financially support the local youth clubs that train U5-U14 players that have provided players for their pro youth teams. US Soccer must fund programs at the local youth levels to pay trainers that will train players according to a new National Standard of player development as set forth by a new National Coach and Staff. There must also be a program in place to subsidize local clubs for players that can’t afford to pay.

  1. Paul Castillo
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 9:46 a.m.
    As spoken on the "canchas"of Hispanic America when something happens that is spot on . . . ESO!!!!! Well done PG. Wonder if its possible to fly this article as a banner behind a plane around the skies of U.S. Soccer in Chicago?

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 10:13 a.m.
    I had been waiting for PG's response to the ongoing train wreck that is the USMNT and he hasn't disappointed. Totally agree with Paul and Walt P. Even in some of the responses to the article there seems to be still a lack of recognition that making some piecemeal change to the lineup will solve all of the problems. Firing Gulati, for example will not fix anything. The problem is the board -- who truly represents the entrenched interests of US Soccer and no one , including Paul, ever talks about them. If Gulati actually wanted to do a major revamping of the coaching arena, he would need their support and I'm quite positive that their support would be lacking. I am convinced that 90% of the people commenting on the state of US Soccer have no idea who these people are. It seems that US Soccer decision making thrives in the dark!! That weould be an excellent place to start stirring things up!!

  1. Jason Greif
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 10:15 a.m.
    I completely agree, Paul, and I hope that US Soccer takes some action. We cannot go any further as a soccer country without some fundamental changes taking place. Bradley has taken us as far as he can and US Soccer needs to take a risk at the very least to find someone outside of the US Soccer ranks who can bring new ideas and enthusiasm to the job.

  1. Nathan Robinson
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 10:16 a.m.
    You are dead on when looking at the team as a whole. The lack of skill overall on the team is appalling! However, you are wrong when you emphasize the need for Latin players. The problem is to the other point your emphasized, who is put in the pool. It is not just skilled Latin players that are left out, it is all the skilled players that are left out because there growth spurts were later in life. Early speed and size trumps skill. The theory is that skill can be taught, forgetting that speed and size can also be obtained. Also from my observation, most players who were able to overwhelm players with size or speed at a young age never developed the skill where as young skilled players naturally became bigger and faster. Too bad the majority of these skilled players never get the opportunity to develop with the national teams. Additionally, the coaches like to believe they are the magic. They are not.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 10:17 a.m.
    ---- Sorry for the duplicate but I missed an important "NOT". I had been waiting for PG's response to the ongoing train wreck that is the USMNT and he hasn't disappointed. Totally agree with Paul and Walt P. Even in some of the responses to the article there seems to be still a lack of recognition that making some piecemeal change to the lineup will NOT solve all of the problems. Firing Gulati, for example will not fix anything. The problem is the board -- who truly represents the entrenched interests of US Soccer and no one , including Paul, ever talks about them. If Gulati actually wanted to do a major revamping of the coaching arena, he would need their support and I'm quite positive that their support would be lacking. I am convinced that 90% of the people commenting on the state of US Soccer have no idea who these people are. It seems that US Soccer decision making thrives in the dark!! That weould be an excellent place to start stirring things up!!

  1. Tom Merchant
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 11:05 a.m.
    Other than that do you like him?

  1. Joseph Pratt
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 11:05 a.m.
    Paul has indeed hit the nail on the head. The US team was outclassed in every aspect. Our defenders looked panicky and resorted to random clearances. Our midfielders had no ideas (Michael Bradley gets a huge number of touches, which is a big problem as he does nothing dangerous and is way too slow with his decisions). And can any of our forwards do what dos Santos did to create that sublime chip goal? Um, that would be no. As coach of a U11 boys team, I cite the examples of Barca and Brazil with my players all the time. I try to get them to be creative, make quick decisions, and move to space off the ball. But these are 10-11 year olds, so of course it only happens sporadically. And it requires a willingness on my part not to win games, but to develop players (we would win more by playing kick-and-chase long ball, which would run completely counter to player development). Yet our MNT, whose players have, one assumes, been at this for 15-20 years, are still incapable of these very same things! How is that possible? I know I am not the only coach preaching these principles, and I have to believe these ideas have prevailed for the last decade...haven't they? So why is it that our top players look like a bunch of college players who play hockey or basketball in the winter and baseball or lacrosse in the spring? Maybe that's part of the problem: looking at a team like Mexico, you have a squad from a country where SOCCER RULES! The kids play it all the time. But my guys are playing two or three sports, and given the chance, will pick up a soccer ball and start bouncing it like a basketball. So while the US has got literally millions of kids playing youth soccer, the challenge seems to be to identify early those kids who not only have ability and potential, but are willing to commit to soccer. That is a much smaller number of kids. The next challenge is to provide them quality training, within a consistent philosophy. The new USSF Curriculum released recently (developed under the direction of Claudio Reyna) is a step in the right direction. But this curriculum and its underlying philosophy need to be pushed down into all levels of youth soccer to the extent possible. Does USSF have the resources and will to do that? Does it even have a plan as to how this curriculum should be adopted? Just releasing it is useless without an effort to make it the guiding document of all youth soccer clubs. As Paul said so accurately, in the end it's all about the players. Right now we just don't have the players. Yes, no doubt a different coach is needed, but their first job would be to scrap whatever passes for our current player identification approach and find players of real quality. I wish them luck.

  1. Brad Partridge
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 11:07 a.m.
    Until US Soccer admits that we are not developing technically sound players we will never be a threat at the international level. The only bright spot for the US was Freddy Adu's return, we need more players that posses his skills. The worst part is that our new US Soccer curriculum discourages dribbling, limits players to 3 touches and encourages verticla soccer. When will we wake up? Our future is in our U12 and under players and encouraging them to develop technical skills, take on a player at every opportunity.

  1. David Huff
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 11:16 a.m.
    Bravo Paul, simply stated, Bradley, Gulati and Flynn must all go so that there is a fair chance at starting the necessary reform needed to turn around our men's and women's national team, youth and ODP programs.

  1. John Munnell
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 11:34 a.m.
    @ David Excellent point...these problems exist on the women's side, as well. Our women are struggling with technical speed, but we are still competing on athleticism. It points the finger again at selection and development of talent in the US.

  1. Julio Vargas
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 11:44 a.m.
    Paul – I am basically on my tears of frustration to know that nothing have been done yet. This is no brainer. I agree with every single thing that you are saying. Bradley finished his cycle after the world cup. And even before that. If I were in charge I would fired him after losing to Brazil in the last Confederations Cup. But like I said before in some forums, what was the excuse back then?…oh yeah..It was Brazil. Losing 2 finals after being up 2-0 is unacceptable. We lost the previous Gold Cup 0-5, we lost to Brazil 0-2 last year, we lost to Spain 0-4, and Argentina gave us a dance that we look like a high school team. Never ever, the USA team looks that is playing at home and has the confidence that we are the ones that have to attack. We always sit back and wait for the other teams to score first. In how many games, the other teams scored on us and early goal and we had to come back? That was becoming our routine. Did Cherundulo’s injury affect us? Yes. It did. But didn’t Mexico lost Salcido and Marquez? Also, 2 key players on their team? What happened with Timothy Chandler? Was he injured, why he was not part of this team? Bornstein barely plays in his Mexican team, he did not play 30seconds on the Gold Cup, and Bradley decides to put him on the championship game?? Seriously? As far as the Hispanic talent…obviously I am Hispanic, English is my second language, but what pisses me off the most is that Bradley and the USA soccer in general have the idea that we have more advantage by selecting the biggest, tallest and strongest players. This is futbol….How big is Messi, Maradona, Figo, Donovan. They need to pick players based on their SKILLS, this is not rocket science either. We need talent, not muscles. Another thing that is very frustrating is the lack of support from the media, Lalas, Wynalda, Balboa, Cobi, etc….none of them have the “cojones” to stand up to Gulati and tell them our reality straight forward. I was listening ESPN Deportes on the radio yesterday, and all of them were saying loud and clear Bradley needs to go…and he needs to go way before the next world cup qualifiers. In other words, he needs to go NOW! Why nobody in English can speak like that in ESPN or FOX Sports? Why we do not have real commentators that feel the game and live the game? Anyway, I am sorry to use your article to keep venting my frustration, but there is absolutely nothing that Bradley can say to justify his position and keep his job. He needs to go NOW!

  1. Raymond Castro
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 12:03 p.m.
    Thanks Paul for the excellent article. It is clear that we are on the wrong path and have been on the wrong path for numerous years. I have been echoing these same sentiments (for 2+ decades) that you have put forth in your article, we don't look at the ethnic talent in this country because the proverbial wisdon continues to prevail - size matters. Time to bid Bradley and his staff good bye. Talent is identified in the youth ranks. Developing all talented players should be a priority. Until this feeder system is completely turned around we/USMNT will not move forward.

  1. Ted Westervelt
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 12:15 p.m.
    Paul.... You reached the promotion relegation precipice, and stopped. Chapter 2 - how to pry US soccer out of the hands of a privileged minority that can profit by hampering it's development. Come on Paul, you already drive them nuts. They already pooh pooh everything you say. Go for the jugular.

  1. Joe Shoulders
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 12:17 p.m.
    Jose Francisco Torres

  1. David Sirias
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 12:18 p.m.
    Paul I notice you are alone in the mainstream english speaking media calling for an end to the Bradley era. I suspected that would be the case, but was hoping otherwise. Sad really. Surely there are others who don't care about "access" that simply wish to tell the truth. Your overarching theme about the underlying structural problems are not new. You and others have already written about it. What you glossed over is important though-- Coach Bob can't manage tournaments. Bob brings 20 field players and only plays 14 at most, 13 and 14 only seeing tiny bits of action. By the last game of the tournament the main 10 field players are gassed. Jones and Bradley are better players than they showed in the Mex. game. But they played virtually "two" full games in an 80 hour stretch only four days before. What did Bob expect? (I can crow because I predicted this exact result) If Bob could not trust Edu and Spector to run the midfield against tiny Guadaloupe, why did he even bring them? I will let others chime on this exact same pattern in the Confederations Cup and the World Cup. .... I used to know an attorney who in good faith worked like a dog,70-75 hours a week, but was just not that good and lost cases. He was let go eventually. The money guys could not "afford" him anymore even though he worked for cheap. Get my drift Paul? Please write up that angle too. It matters.

  1. Chris Morris
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 12:39 p.m.
    I noted James Froelich’s comment about the USSF board, “Probably 90% of the people commenting have no idea who these people are.” I didn’t know either, so I looked it up. There are 27 board members and only two of them have ever played at a high level, Mia Hamm and Landon Donovan. The only other person who might be described as having knowledge of the international game is Henry Kissinger. The board does include a few people from U.S. soccer such as Don Garber, Tim Leiweke, and Bob Kraft. But mainly it is just public relations, featuring celebrities like Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Oscar De La Hoya, and political types like former Pres. Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, and Donna Shalala, as well as two business leaders, Indira Nooyi of Pepsico and Carlos Cordeiro of Goldman Sachs. The main component is media figures; e.g., Bob Iger (Disney), Katherine Weymouth (Wash. Post heiress), Ed Foster-Simeon (USA Today), Joe Uva (Univision), and John Skipper (ESPN). USSF apparently sees the role of the board as promoting the game to a media and business audience, not as elevating the quality of our national teams. In fact, I’d guess half of the board members are barely aware of who Bob Bradley is, much less having an opinion on his coaching ability.

  1. Robert Lopez
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 12:40 p.m.
    After the USA loss on Saturday most message boards were filled with the most racist, ignorant and hate filled comments. Tim Howard opened his dumb mouth about the closing ceremony being in Spanish. Actions like these turn Mexican-American fans further away from the USA National Team. I am born and raised in California. I have to declare my citizenship at least 3-4 times a month in my own state. Why should I root for my USA National team if I'm not even welcomed in my place of birth. The USSF really needs to fix this issue and really try and cater to Mexican-American fans like myself. There is a lot of talent around the border region and Bob Bradley's Eurocentric coaching style will continue to push Mexican-American fans away. P.S.Ted Westervelt, keep up the hard work we will get Pro/Rel one day!

  1. miguel abisaab
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 12:55 p.m.
    Hello Paul, I wish I could say that all is well with our national team, but honestly we have much to point out also on those above Bradley who are the "adminstrators" of the USSF, and CONCACAF too. That is another matter, but on the focus of the mens team, yes Bradley made a misjudgement on one of his former players from his Chivas USA days Johnathan Bornstien. True in the inner circles of the game as player and coach you have a show of loyalty, but this did not pay off for Bradley. Fans that follow the game as long as you and others like myself have in this country, now have huge expectations on the USMNT players and coaches to produce results on the field. The media that reports on the USMNT, need to also bring out,and call out on those who make the decisions on how we are going about are soccer programs on all levels both men and womens teams. I have made this point on various sites concerning the USMNT, however the commentators must be cautious because in upper US soccer circles anything said thats not good or in the best intrest, can result in them being fined or fired from their jobs. Bob Bradley still has time to recover and get things right and more player availabilty as they fight for playing time with thier prespective clubs. Freddy Adu served as an example that any US player can rediscover themselves and form, hello Eddie Johnson where are you? but also several other players included. The Mexican national team and federation took a long hard look at themselves after the 2002 World Cup. After the US eliminated them from the tournament,they started to adjust their youth system to match our physicalness and yet maintain their creativity flair. Which started with winning the 2005 U17 World Cup, with Dos Santos being a member of that team. We had that in the late nineties, the 1999 U17 team had Donovan, Beasley who played in the 2002 World Cup as 20 year olds and Onyewu who beefed up our backline between 2007 until his injury in October of 2009. So all we think of is the now,not back then, but in soccer a cycle comes and goes. Mr Gardner, I remember the days when the only opinion that mattered to be read was yours on the progress of the sport here in the US. It seems that everyone now is a columnist with their intake on the game today. I been following your opinions for over twenty years in the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am frustrated but also I have learned in the past twenty years on how the game is played away from the pitch. I know how to play the on the field and that too has changed. Paul, stay well and take care, as always continue on with your viewpoints. Always good to read at and digest,maybe Bob's brother Jeff might return a message to you as he did last year. Take care

  1. cony konstin
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 12:56 p.m.
    Again the problem is not BB or Sunil. The problem is the entire SYSTEM needs to be revolutionized. First of all US Soccer can not mandate anything because soccer in America is all about FREE ENTERPRISE!!!!! You have AYSO, UYSA, USASA, US Club, Y-League, my league, your league, MLS, NASL, USL, college and high school soccer. Soccer in America is all over the map. It is Helter Skelter at best. Throughout these wholesome organizations most of the people who are making soccer decisions have never kick a ball or barely can kick a ball. You basically have non soccer people making soccer decisions. And when you do have soccer people making soccer decisions most of them are clueless or part of the status quo. We need a Soccer REVOLUTION. US SOCCER needs to have an emergency symposium but bring in people who are radical thinkers. Keep the STATUS QOU away from this meeting of the minds. They had their chance. It is time for new blood, risk takers, visionaries, and creativity to shake up soccer in America. We need a new blue print for the future of soccer in America. When Fricker was in charge he did what he could do. Then a new group came in and did their part. It is time now for new change. It is time for US SOCCER to bring it all together so everyone can beat on the same drum. US Soccer needs unification so they can mandate a new vision and a new blue print for the future of USONIAN Soccer. In soccer and in life. It is easier to destroy then to create. It is easier to state problems then create solutions. It is time for solutions. REVOLUCION!!!!!!

  1. cony konstin
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 1:12 p.m.
    Robert you are 100% right. I remember the first team I coached 36 years ago. The entire team were Latinos. We started beating teams 15-0, 18-0, then I was asked by PAL that I had to bring out not only my player passes but their birth certificates as well. One day everyone in the US will finally discover who they are. But today I will tell you who we are USONIANS. People of the United States of America. The problem is that racism still exist in the US and throughout the planet. But we will change this. And hopefully through the beautiful game we will beat down racism and oppression.

  1. Tom Symonds
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 1:17 p.m.
    You nailed it, Paul. US Soccer believes in the "strong and fit" model while the rest of the world believes "skillful and technical" is the path to follow.

  1. Robert Lopez
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 1:21 p.m.
    @Cony, thanks for the response. I'm glad you understand the pain involved in being Latino in this country.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 1:24 p.m.
    To Robert Lopez: I share your sentiments 100%. I am Mexican born, have been since I was 10, went to schools, served in the US Navy and Army, became a citizen, and have post-graduate degrees, and have been steeped in US soccer, from scholastic, recreationsl, youth (for my kids) collegiate, have gone the licensing (US Soccer coaching schools)refereeing ultimately becoming an assessor, and culminating with my dream job as WC USA 94 historian. And all along my loyalties have been dividied appropriately, I root for the US or Mexico when they plays someone else, but this past weekend I had a gut wrenching feeling at the pit of my stomach and d rejoiced when the US went up 2-0 (a most dangerous lead to have and protect)while disparing for my Mexico. However, despair turned to utter dismay as Mexico began to ratchet up its game, and even a feeling of utter sadness for the US when the final whistle went. NMeedless to say, and as screwy as it may sound, I was feeling very sad for the US and on the other hand happy for Mexico. But after mulling over and over and asking why in hell didn't Bradley do everything possible to protect that dangerous lead, and "retool" at half time, and then inserting a poor Bornstein and an Agudelo, went beyond the pale. But enough, most comments above are spot on. Re the US Soccer Board, that is just for show and to impress, however, it would be interesting to investigate Gulati's soccer background,US Soccer Secretary General, and others in that place called US Soccer House. As for Bradley not seeing the trees for the forest, well it stands to reason, which in som many ways leade me to believe that he harbors a deep seated anti-Latino bias. And What of Tim Howards rantings? He only heard what he wanted, 'tho the EM Fernando Fiori(?) did start blingually, but he f****d up royally and shifted entirely into Spanish, but Tim H has heard much worse given his status and play in the EPL, the birth of true hooliganism. Bottom line to this Gulati/Bradley/good old boy network that is the US Soccer Coaching clique morass needs to be evicted from Soccer Hous, given a pink slip, and say Hasta la vista kids!

  1. miguel abisaab
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 1:25 p.m.
    to Robert Lopez, I understand what you mean but also unfortunately this has become a polarizing issue. Soccer here is used as a social and political gains within some(not all)Hispanic-born Americans, that want to see the issues of immigration and English only be in the forefront. Tim Howard does have a point Robert, where was Fernando Fiore to present the USMNT in english the Gold Cup in 2007? There are many american ( english/spanish/ etc..) speaking soccerfans that want to see the US succeed, i agree with you no need for racial, ignorant, hate filled comments. I will make a bet with you Robert, I will wager that when we see Mexico again, a healthy Onyewu with a young 6-4 Omar Gonzalez in the middle , a fast outside rightback Chandler who will mark "Chicharito", Adu,Bedoya Bradley,Edu,Holden in the midfield and Jozy Altidore and Eddie Johnson up front. Along with Howard, Donovan and Dempsey playing in a pro US crowd who's going to win? If we can score two goals infront of a pro Mexican crowd in Pasadena. Here's some food for thought, we can probably go down to the Azteca and do the same again and this time hold the lead or add too you never know? So do you wanna bet? Robert take care and lets be positive for USMNT.

  1. Robert Lopez
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 1:37 p.m.
    @Miguel, I believe you missed my point. What I'm saying is the USA system + outright ignorance is pushing Latino-American talent away from the system. USA showed that it doesn't have a following. Detroit was empty and Concacaf wasn't limiting tix to only Mexican fans. USA fans didn't show up. The USA team needs to embrace immigrants because far too many times its us against U.S.

  1. miguel abisaab
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 1:50 p.m.
    @Robert,I concur with you on your point of view. I dont think we are pushing away the lation american talent we have more today then in the last twenty years remember Hugo Perez, Tab Ramos, Marcelo Balboa, and Claudio Reyna were the pioneers that help make it possible for the USMNT to have creativity on the field. the hispanic born players we have currently like Agudelo, Bedoya, Torres, Gonzalez, Castro,Vidal,Guzan as they get more playing time with thier clubs they will bring deversity to the team as long as they stay healthy and remain consistant with thier level of play

  1. P Van
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 1:57 p.m.
    Gardner singles out those who reduced the game and US performance to a substitution or two as shortsighted, however his broad brush strokes are lacking specificity. It's very easy to tap into "Let's go Latin"; afterall who wouldn't want the US to play like certain Latin countries' teams (just as happily for me the Dutch or the Germans of late), who wouldn't want a bunch of little Dos Santoses, Tevezes running around (again or Sneijders, Lahms); but the actual doing so--the attempt to magically swing and shift a soccer culture that is very young and, yes, still developing from what it is--or granted from where at least "the power" resides to another--is far more complex. It will take time. US soccer has moved forward over the past 30 years and will continue to do so. As others have said before, I actually think the promise of American soccer may ultimately be in some kind of blending of the many styles, strengths of different soccer cultures--European and Latin-based. It's a huge challenge to integrate different cultures in any arena...especially perhaps in one in which the outcome is ultimately measured so concretely by wins and losses, and one which currently emphasizes competition and bottom line results over collaboration. Is there really ONE right way to play the game?!No, but Gardner seems to think there is! Where I do agree with Gardner 100% is in his continual use of the Banality Bob tag: I have never heard Bradley say anything remotely insightful, or even just enthusiastic, anywhere about the game. As a central figure/leader in American soccer, he needs to be unfortunately inspiring the countries' players and supporters with, yes Paul, a grand vision. And ideally doing so in an articulate and inspiring manner. That is very important for American soccer at this stage! He should also be forced to address these very questions that are being raised here in the posts...Alas, the soccer media--and it's pretty young and developing too here in the US... in any case they don't challenge him much, or at least very thoughtfully--with specifics. They're an easily dismissed bunch. Certainly, I've never heard former players, now experts Lalas, Wynalda, Balboa--perhaps Reyna--say much that is insightful. That does not mean let's not move forward or shift gears, but let's try to be specific about what it is we need to do to move the game further forward in this country. Everyone is still learning. No one here has all the answers; we should look for help from those with more experience and insight instead of either picking things apart or swinging at them recklessly with wrecking balls. But perhaps that's where we're all at right now in terms of all of our soccer development in the US--swinging wildly like Ream in the box instead of juking like Dos Santos in and around the top of the box.

  1. miguel abisaab
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 2:05 p.m.
    @Phillip well put, we are still young, however gently put Bob Bradley may not be an animated type of coach but still he can get it together and get the team back at form

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 3:19 p.m.
    Chris Morris -- There are actually different types of board members, voting and non-voting (the glamor names). To get the real silent rulers you need to google "us soccer governance". Then select"board of directors" on the left side. You will be shocked to find few bug names other than Agoos and Fotopoulos. Matt Flynn is not even a voting member!! Here are the real culprits: President Sunil K. Gulati Executive Vice President Mike Edwards Immediate Past President (non-voting) Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia Athlete Representatives Jeff Agoos, Danielle Fotopoulos, Jon McCullough Pro Council Representatives Tonya Antonucci, Don Garber Adult Council Representatives Richard Groff, Bill Bosgraaf Youth Council Representatives Bob Palmeiro, John Sutter At Large Representative Burton Haimes Independent Directors Carlos Cordeiro, Fabian Núñez, Donna E. Shalala CEO/Secretary General (non-voting) Dan Flynn

  1. David Huff
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 3:27 p.m.
    @John, Agreed, this is due in part to the inordinante amount of UK influence in our USSF structure, there is a lot of $ money that is being made for training, coaching, consulting services etc. from this English-speaking "foreign" source. The Brit approach has failed us for the past 4 decades or so (and has not done them very much good either unless you count the aberration of 1966 when England was the host and was gifted a momentum-changing undeserved goal in the final against West Germany). We need to look to the youth systems in Argentina, Brasil, Spain, Barca's La Masia Academy approach, use futsal for our youth to develop technical mastery with touch on the ball.

  1. Kevin Lash
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 3:39 p.m.
    There are some examples of Latin/Euro fusion soccer out there-- look to MLS. Real Salt Lake and Dallas both play a fusion type of soccer (at least on good days) that is effective, based on athleticism as well as creativity, and can win games. Just don't take Jason Kreis away from RSL until he has a few more years to work out the details.

  1. cony konstin
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 3:44 p.m.
    Before anyone gets fired from coaching to bring in a super super super international national coach. The USA needs a soccer REVOLUTION!!!!! This REVOLUTION must begin in the inner cities of America. We need to bring in Perkerman to reorganize our youth national teams. We need to bring in Bianchi to work with our MLS coaches. We need to bring in Ciro Medrano to help with developing our youth players from age 3 thru 14. We need to bring in Javier Lozano to help us develop our national youth and pro futsal program. We need to start to think out of the box. The $250 soccer shoes, numerous soccer camps and tournaments, pretty uniforms, average athletes, are not going to help soccer grow in the USA. WE NEED MAGIGAL PLAYERS. We need radical thinkers to help us change our ways. The people I mentioned above are the best at what they do. By Bring these topnotch people to work with our people and create a 7 day a week, no cost, free play environment in the inner cities of America, then we have a fighting chance to elevate our game to a higher level. Continue the same path we will be ok but that is it OK. If the US wants to be excellent then we must strive towards excellence and not continue to beat the drum of status quo. Bradeley in not the problem. The problem is our SYSTEM. Our system needs a REVOLUTION today and not 20 years from now.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 3:55 p.m.
    David Sirias and Philip van Eyck make an important point that receives far too little attention -- the lack of aggressiveness among the soccer media. In this I include many of the big name bloggers as well as the TV announcers. The most gutless of these are Della Camera, Harkes, Martino, Dunseth, C. Sullivan and sadly, Cobi Jones. I didn't include Wynalda in this list because he is the current evidence of what happens when you actually say something negative about the team. The so-called commentary from these people would be hilarious if it weren't so sad!! Every sport has their "see no evil" types but in US soccer, that's all we get. I don't believe there is a conspiracy, no, it is an outright directive from Fox and US Soccer to avoid any negative commentary for fear of damaging the "reputation" of US Soccer. Too late! The whole world already knows how poorly skilled we are!! In the blogosphere there are a few more brave souls but definitely not enough. Paul Gardner still stands out as the curmudgeon-in-chief and long may he reign!! Besides the media though we need to admit that there are a large number of "fans" who think that it is somehow unpatriotic to say that in general our MNT is pretty bad!! If these people are going to represent us we should certainly be able to scream when they don't represent our best. Until US Soccer opens up their selection process, I will continue to withhold my support.

  1. P Van
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 4:46 p.m.
    @James Fs and Chris' commentary about the USSF higher ups--while there is a Latino name (I count two) among them, I do think it would speak VOLUMES to Gardner's points to hire a Latino coach! And put others in positions of real power who speak to, understand the issues soccer and otherwise that doing so would address. We'd have more imaginative, skilled soccer, for sure, and even perhaps a better US moving forward--and probably a few more supporters...While a Hiddink would bring similar strong soccer qualities and I'd welcome him as well short-term, long term we could work toward embracing the clear Latin potential in American soccer. I'm not sure, unfortunately, that all the current higher-ups have the political skills and will power to do so...

  1. miguel abisaab
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 5:02 p.m.
    @Cony Kostin and Rbert Lopez, there is a revolution in progress for american players of (hispanic/latin) descent. By my latest count there has been up to 26 players that have been on the national, olympic, and U20 teams. The breakdown would be goalkeepers(3)Brad Guzan( Aston Villa), Luis Robles (Karlsruher), and Justin Perez(Monterrey). Defenders (6)2010 MLS Rookie of the year Omar Gonzalez LA Galaxy 6 foot 5 22 years old, along with Micheal Orozco a member of the 2008 olympic team and Philadelphia Union, now currently with San Luis. Edgar Castillo, Emilio Orozco, AJ De la Garza, and Greg Garza. In the midfield alone an even dozen with guys like Bedoya and Torres with 13 and 11 caps respectively for the USMNT. Keep a eye out for Bryan Arguez, Alfredo Morales,Danny Cruz also. As for strikers this is where we need to have these guys breakout in the near future. Juan Agudelo 6-1 18 yrs old Red Bulls, Adrian Ruelas 6-2 20 yrs old Santos Laguna, and Omar Salgado 6-4 17 yrs old Vancouver Whitecaps. Yes we can "si se puede" produce caliber players of all backgrounds in our country. The ODP system that I remember back in the day was about having the money, no academies, but much has changed for the better We do have people that can bring out the creativity in american players, and there are good coaches out there in MLS Arena,Heymann,Nichols,Kinnear, Kries,Schmid,Spencer and Yallop. The Concacaf, USSF, and media reporting is the problem.

  1. David Huff
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 5:12 p.m.
    @ Phillip, my favorites choices as the new coach would be Juergen Klinsmann, Argentines - Jose Pekerman, Marcelo Bielsa or Ricardo La Volpe, or Guus Hiddink's version of "total football". I would also consider Klinsmann as the new USSF President in replacement of Bob Kraft's toadie, Sunil Gulati, to help establish a total new vision of what American soccer should be, free of the defeatist influences of English football.

  1. paul zalucky
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 5:52 p.m.
    Excellent article although not sure BB deserves much of the blame. The national team is a sum of a nation's youth development program. My son played in Europe growing up....all about developing good technical skills and understanding of the game.....won-loss record NEVER mentioned. in Gold Cup Adu was the only U.S. player who had a good first touch....only Dempsey and Donovan come close...but Adu looks so natural....U.S. will not make it into top ranks of world soccer without better technical skills.....youth programs need to emphasize development of these technical skills, like they do in Europe and LA NOT winning......at all costs as is the wont of U.S. parent's and coaches.....except for Adu and occasionally Dempsey, there is no one on the U.S. to smartly take on an opposing team's defender.....

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 7:05 p.m.
    Everything must change. EVERYTHING!

  1. cony konstin
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 7:40 p.m.
    Hi Miguel I am not talking about Latino soccer. I have been training inner city Latinos kids for 36 years. I am talking about creating a NEW SYSTEM to develop magical players. I am talking about creating a NEW SPARTA!!! Those players that you mentioned are good players. But they are not special and it is not their fault that they are not special. It is the environment that they grew up in limit them from becoming special. There is were the REVOUTION must begin. Creating an environment that creates magical players. One other note our 5 to 10 years old are receiving a disservice. Why? Because we have parents who are wonderful volunteers but have no clue in transmitting technical mechanics to our kids. It is like sending kids to school for 5 years and just throwing pencils off the their foreheads while teaching them nothing. Suburban soccer is a total disservice and should be abolish immediately. In its place either bring in pros who actually know how to develop young kids. Opps I forgot there are no pros in the US who know how to develop 5 to 10 years old. Because if we did we would have some real fine technical players on our national team. Dempsy and Donavan developed most of their skills on their own. They did not grow up in a system starting at age 5 where they trained 5 days a week till the age of 10. Or maybe we should start to do what I have been proposing that we do in the inner cities of America and that is create free play areas for suburban soccer kids. Lets build futsal courts all over America so all the kids have a chance to become passionate about the game and eventually become magical players as well. It is time for America to wake up and stop drinking the low dosages of Jonestown koolaide. Again I repeat myself. REVOLUCION!!!!!!! FIFA'S New Mantra is Futsal is part of Football. It is time for us to embrace this mantra.

  1. Kevin Leahy
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 8:30 p.m.
    There was a time when I believed our leadership had us going in the right direction but, that time has long passed. There are youth coaches in this country that, believe in doing things the right way and someone is always there to undermine them. It may be a parent or an administrator but, there is always someone who feels it is more important to win than learn. It is a problem @ the highest level because, we have not done better @ player developement. The are players that are available to the USMNT that have better skill level than some already present but, for whatever reason are not included. I was stunned to even see Freddy Adu get a chance. I believe that our leadership needs to be better, for the rank and file to be better!

  1. Michael Haltom
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 8:31 p.m.
    If Bradley and Gulati want the USA to be the Stoke City of international soccer, who are we to second guess them?

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 9:25 p.m.
    For those interested, you need to read the Grant Wahl interview of BB in 2009. It is quite enlightening. Besides Paul's comment about the lack of a reference to Brazil, it is also quite interesting that, in describing game scenarios he never references beautiful attacking moves--it's always "an opening appears" or someone's "reactions were slow". I truly believe that this man CANNOT see the beauty of the game.

  1. miguel abisaab
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 10:17 p.m.
    @Cony I read your comment and you are very passionate on the redoing the youth system inn the US. The money for all that wont come from the USSF, its going to have to be parents and local companies (with money),that support youth soccer. To get a Tauhichi like soccer academies across the US could be a start. It was suggested back in the nineties in cities like New York, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles to build academies as such to mimic the Ajax system, education and soccer. Instead if you got the money, its the Bolliteri academy in Florida. MLS teams are starting a youth developement system some are former MLS players. We need to get guys like Cienfuegos,Etcheverry,Lassiter,Moreno involved to teach our youngsters to be creative and have flair with instinct on the field. A New Sparta, New Ajax, New Tauhichi can come about, continue with the passion, best of luck take care.

  1. Pamela Oliver
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 11:03 p.m.
    Excellent article! Raymond-"We don't look at the ethnic talent in this country. Developing all talented players should be a priority. Until this feeder system is completely turned around we/USMNT will not move forward." Julio - "They need to pick players based on their skills. This is not rocket science." Nathan - "...skilled players naturally become bigger & faster. Too bad the majority of these skilled players never get the opportunity to develop with the national team." As a Soccer Mom (who stayed at the practices and learned), for 12 yrs I have been dreaming the dream with my son (http://www.daoliver.net) that one day he will be stepping on the field in front of thousands of fans. As we were watching the Gold Cup, I finally asked the question "Are these really the best players we have?" My son just shook his head. I cannot believe how dissappointed in the USMNT I have become. I have grown tired and weary watching Bradley and the robotic, confused, static players/team he has put together. In a way, Adu was a breath of fresh air... If the players are doing the best they can, then we need someone in charge that can do a better job of choosing, coaching, motivating and getting his team to execute. Even if it means we must put some younger, skilled players on the field. As Cony and others have said, "The problem is our system."

  1. Mateo Greek
    commented on: June 28, 2011 at 11:15 p.m.
    Jose Francisco Torres is just one skilled player that is missing and a glaring example of Bob's blinders against "latin styled" players. People love to say that he was given a chance already or that he didn't play this season, blah, blah, blah. If Bornstein, Rogers, and Kljestan, can make the camp and get as many chances as they have been given...why not JFT? I tell you why, he doesn't fit Bob's scheme. I'm not saying JFT would be an absolute revelation, but he needs the same opportunity that is given to Michael Bradley or Freddy Adu. Not to mention Herculez Gomez, I wonder how many of the fans out there would have rather had Gomez(with his fire and passion) as an option off the bench than Chris Wondolowski?? Please, next thing you know Conor Casey will be called back into camp... My main point is, Bob does not rate the Mexican league or Latin players...E. Juarez, Torrado, Barrera, all seemed to have learned how to play at an "international" level in Mexico. Barca is a great example and so is this golden generation for Mexico, of how physicality will lose to skill, speed, and soccer IQ, 8 or 9 times out of ten...yes, on occasion set pieces, amazing goalkeeping, and long ball soccer will get us the odd upset and win, but lets strive for consistency and more "pure" soccer. the time to change was after the world cup, in our country, Sunil will not have the cajones nor the pressure to cut Bob loose. My only hope is that Bradley steps down and cites his love for the program and passes the reigns to Sigi Shmid or Jason Kreis. I'm dreaming I know, but sometimes delusion is better than the truth;)

  1. Oz LatinAmerican
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 12:18 a.m.
    Very good points guys. Have you read the article Playing for the joy of it: Pick-up Soccer by the 13 years old Caroline Kostechy? and the comments that followed after? It really summarized the soccer situation in this country. Where everything starts: pick up games from that to the tryouts to the youth teams of the amateur teams or the professional clubs in every Neighborhood, Town, and City throughout the USA no more of all the Youth leagues,"your league", "my league", grandma leagues or whatever league. It must be just like any other country in the world, but the honchos here said that it will never happen in USA!

  1. cony konstin
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 12:59 a.m.
    Streetball, free play, pickup, four tin cans and a ball, FUTSAL, what ever it takes. Everyone one you guys who have written something today go out there and preach the beautiful game. Spread the word that change is coming. The time has come for the US to discover the real beauty of the game of soccer. And that is not on beautiful pitches. But on concrete, sand, dirt, mud, or even wood chips. This is how the game is played. Later when you have earn your stripes then you can move onto the pretty pitch with all the nice white line and fancy goals. Meanwhile tell the kids to play anywhere they can.

  1. Pamela Oliver
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 3:35 a.m.
    Cony, that is what we have endured with our son! He did not believe in taking a break when seasons ended. Our summers consisted of tournaments and small-sided leagues. At 10 yrs old, the coach of his team told the boys to watch the upcoming Brazil game. He made a bet with the team (that they couldn't win). As we watched the game I pointed out something the coach had explained in practice that he didn't understand. Once he watched the game he understood and was hooked. Now at 20 yrs old he still lives to play soccer...semi-pro indoor, 2 other indoor teams, pick up games...he even works at the indoor soccer place. Along with what we expect from the system, we as parents, coaches must immerse players in the game off the field. How many kids (even that play) will watch a game? Not just USMNT, but any game? He played in a Mexican league when he was 13. The field was just dirt and clumps of weeds. His card pic was of a 35 yr old man with a mustache! He loved it! On Sundays he played pick-up games with a group of Ukranians. 2 or 3 of them were in their 60s! They paid him the ultimate compliment when they asked if we were American. (We're African-American). They said they had never seen an American play like him. I said all that to say that along with playing the game, we have to make sure our soccer players also watch the game. It will help them learn.

  1. Amos Annan
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 7:45 a.m.
    More stupidity from Paul Gardner and it looks like most readers agree with this stupidity. The US team was one good defensive player away from winning the final and most everyone here thinks the whole system is bankrupt. 2nd place is not the end of the soccer world. When more American kids play soccer on their own and choose soccer over the "big 3" and when more inner city kids choose soccer over basketball, then the US will dominate. No need for a "revolution" because it will never happen. Change in the soccer culture here will be a slow process.

  1. Amos Annan
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 7:53 a.m.
    Without dos Santos creating and scoring in the Gold Cup final, the US would have won that game. With Cherundolo in the back, the US would have won that game. Amazing how everyone here thinks they understand the game better than everyone else.

  1. Amos Annan
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 7:59 a.m.
    Someone commented that we need to look at the youth system in latin America... well there is no system. Everyone plays all the time every day, that is the system. There is no "youth league" or "practices", they just play soccer instead of playing video games.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 8:20 a.m.
    Amos -- thanks for showing that the problems with US Soccer are not limited to the coaches and management of US Soccer! There is obviously a portion of the fan base (you) who have no understanding or appreciation of what the term "beautiful game" means. Thanks for volunteering to be the object lesson. LOL LOL LOL

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 10 a.m.
    Amos, you are delusional and need to seek medical attention asap. Get used to playing second fiddle to Mexico.

  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 10:34 a.m.
    wrong, Amos. you have not been to Latin America, and we are 20 years away from competing, not one defensive midfielder away. We have plenty of talent, we don't need football players and basketball players. Rossi, Subotic prove we have the talent, we just cannot develop it.

  1. Joe Shoulders
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 11:09 a.m.
    Amos needs to get out and see this country a little more and maybe start reading more instead of watching so much FoxNews.

  1. Daniel Clifton
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 12:14 p.m.
    Thank you Paul for stating the obvious. I found myself almost routing for the Mexicans for the way they played. They were fun to watch. This wasn't about coaching. We have too much so called coaching in the US.

  1. Joe Grady
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 12:20 p.m.
    I may to late to this party, but WOW! Good start for an article, Paul, but the real fault with Bradley is no fault of his own. He is who he is. The REAL problem with US soccer, as many have already pointed out, is a failure of vision at the very top. Sunil MUST go!

  1. David Huff
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 12:36 p.m.
    @Amos, are you related to Kofi? You resemble the 'do-nothing' approach of the former UN Secretary General or as Paul coined this article by analogy to Nero fiddling while Rome burned. I think not, this train wreck cannot be allowed to continue.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 1:38 p.m.
    It took me some time to read and re-read the comments again, and while I agree with 98% of them, I do not agree with the notion that we need to bring in foreign coaches, such as Cony Konstin suggest with the likes of Pekerman, Bianchi, Medrano, Lozano, Mengano, and Sutano and Fulano, or even, YE GADS!!! La Volpe (who was run out as Mexican NT coach, and more than liklely w/b run out from Costa Rica) We have in ths expansive country, more than enough coaches who have gone through the so-called system, and many now NOT part of the ever-so dangerous US National Soccer Coaching cadre and good old boy network. Time and again I've seen local Latino leagues, clubs, and what not bring in a "Profesor Sutano Mengano y Fulano" to conduct coaching symposiums, courses, or whatever, and the net result is that they come, see, and collect, do the Disneyland gig, and go home with some good old US dollars. Would the same be with the likes Coach Konstin mentions? You bet they will, 'cause all they will do is nothing short of just getting paid a handsome sum and besides, they do not have the slightest inkling nor inclination on what ails US soccer, other than their feeble knowledge that we suck as a soccer-playing nation. If one believes they will come and "REVOLUTIONIZE" U.S. soccer at all levels, well then I have a nice piece of beach-front property in Arizona. Solution? A complete do-over of US Soccer from the publicity hunger "advisory boards" named by the "governing board" of US Soccer, to the front office "gurus" in Soccer House, to the asked-for resignation of Gulati. BTW, has anyone looked closely at Gulati's soccer experience?

  1. Rick Figueiredo
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 2:04 p.m.
    Wow, Paul. Such pessimism. I like Bradley for the most part. Yes, he makes tactical errors in judgment but that's his mistake to make. He is COACH. Supreme leader and decision maker during games. That's what I do. That is the description of the job dude! Remember he is American. Just slightly below English coaches in futebol intelligence. That creates it's own limitations. Just like when Germany tries to play basketball. The "genes" and history are not all there. Yet. Given that, he is doing pretty well. Stop saying that not having the right players is not an excuse. It is a BIG FACTOR! Stop telling USA coaches to adapt a central or latin american style. THEY NEED TO BECOME AMERICAN. THAT IS THE KEY. Brasilians do not and never will play like Argentines. That is considered an insult to a Brasilian. (The USA is trying way too hard to play like the English. I cringe at that thought.) Ironically, the U.S. is on the right track. It's just gonna take 30 more years to catch up. But some kid will come along and figure out how to be the next Messi or Maradona or Zico or Neymar! And presto. Ya got a log burning.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 8:04 p.m.
    Ric Fonseca -- I'm going to note this day because it's the first time ever that I can say that I disagree with you. We need a big name international coach not just because of his experience but because of his "name" and his ability to stare down the soccer establishment. My perfect environment would be for someone with big ideas, like Klinsmann, to come in and bring a pure tactician like Joachim Low. Now I know THAT pairing is pure dreamland but that would be the model that I would like to see followed. We would need someone who could stir up a fire in the fan base and coaching ranks which would require some media savvy too -- admittedly a really big order. To RICK Figueiredo -- First, you need to read the previous 60 posts because I'm afraid your time frame is a little off from most people's. Second you seem to be quite literal-minded. Using Brazil, Spain, or Argentina as a model doesn't mean that the US style will be a replica of any of these. However everyone of them has something to teach us and it's a bit arrogant to think that we can or should try to create ours from scratch. Finally, please let me know where you are coaching so that I can make sure that my grandchildren are nowhere near your team!! You must have an "A" license.

  1. Paolo Jacobs
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 9:17 p.m.
    The USSF is goin to put out a statement by Friday about Bradley: What's it goin to be????????????????

  1. David Huff
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 9:30 p.m.
    I concur with James and must most respectfully disagree with Ric in that I feel that having a quality international coach is critical in starting the process of turning around the sinking ship known as the USS F by providing some new leadership direction. As I stated earlier, my favorites choices as the new coach would be Juergen Klinsmann, Argentines - Jose Pekerman, Marcelo Bielsa or Ricardo La Volpe, or Guus Hiddink's brand of "total football". I would also consider Klinsmann as the new USSF President in replacement of Sunil Gulati in order to help establish a total new vision of what American soccer should and can be. Bottom line, I want a coach that is world class that player and fans alike can get behind and be proud of.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 10:18 p.m.
    How about bringing in an international "name" with Jason Kreis as his "joachim Low" ?

  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: June 29, 2011 at 10:33 p.m.
    cony wants international coaches for the emergency symposium to discuss ways of changing the course of US soccer, not to coach our teams. also, I cannot speak about the money grabbing interests of Pekerman or Banchi, but can wholeheartedly confirm Medrano isnt in it for the money. in the end its a moot point - The national team post doesnt mean much, because our players are deficcient from the ages of 11-17. Lowe, Klinsmann, Pep, have a talent for taking really good players at the ages of 17-23 and makng them stars, but we dont have that situation. and sure, Hiddink could get the most out of our current national team, but there isnt a national team he couldnt get the most out of. a foreign national team coach is only good to us if he can unleash the binds of the old boy (non-soccer playing) USSF network. and i am skeptical that such a coach exists because Gulati would never appoint such a threat.

  1. seth inglis
    commented on: June 30, 2011 at 1:27 a.m.
    I have never run into a more comprehensive explanation of why our National Team runs like a Platonic relationship....http://sandiegos10.tumblr.com/post/1163838556/who-is-us-soccer-part-1-sunil-gulati...basically says the powers at be (Sunil and SUM) take our own National Team to be second best to Mexico, not in skill, but in promoting. Take that Bob! You were meant to be second best. Don't upset the investors, they will take down US Soccer..

  1. David Huff
    commented on: June 30, 2011 at 12:04 p.m.
    There are rumblings that an announcement may be forthcoming on Friday concerning MLS Bob's future with the MNT. The good news would be that they are getting rid of this uninspiring nepotist and replacing him with someone of quality with excellent international experience. The bad news would be that the replacement would be another MLS subservient flunkie or, incredibly, reaffirming a committment to retain MLS Bob through 2014. If it is the latter, then I think that any fan that cares about the future of USMNT, USWNT, youth nationals, OPD etc. will need to seriously consider an economic boycott of all USSF/MLS/SUM events, activities, licensed merchandise etc. in order to hit them where it counts so as to effect meaningful changes that they are so resistant to.

  1. Bill Anderson
    commented on: June 30, 2011 at 12:29 p.m.
    David, unless there is a change I will support you in the boycott. Marketing is the only thing that US Soccer understand.

  1. Jay Chisolm
    commented on: June 30, 2011 at 1:59 p.m.
    Paul, Spot on. I've said it for years that we have too much emphasis on bulk and have not kept a good enough eye on talent. Tim Howard cost us advancement in the World Cup and again in the Gold Cup. Too arrogant amoung other things. I'm glad to hear you're doing well.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: June 30, 2011 at 4:29 p.m.
    David h and Bill A - if you are really serious then the best place to start would be the next home game of the USMNT. We need to identify the city and begin hitting any lacal blogs with "boycott USSF" notices. It will take a concerted effort because I posted such a note on a Chicago blog before a game at Soldiers' Field and it was off the blog in 24 hours. We can use this spot to coordinate until we figure something better. Let's see what happens tomorrow.

  1. David Huff
    commented on: June 30, 2011 at 10:04 p.m.
    @James, agreed, unless we take this action at a grassroots level and go viral with it then a boycott will not become a reality. Having a website dedicated to this subject would be very helpful as well. If tomorrow's announcement is just more of the "same old" then action should be taken. I would also suggest that the boycott extend to MLS as well as the SUM-sponsored special summer tour matches (such as Real Madrid-Chivas in San Diego on July 20th for example) to have maximum $$ effect. That said, some fans don't understand the ties that bind the USSF to powerbrokers from MLS and SUM.

  1. James Madison
    commented on: June 30, 2011 at 11:29 p.m.
    Bradley plays the cards he's given. Unfortunately, they're not very good. US Soccer's Development Program should be the focus of criticism, both with respect to the mend and also with respect to the women. The 1999 Women's team could beat the current version 3 out of 4. We say it; they seem to ignore us: develop technique and decision making, not athleticism that should be a given.

  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: July 1, 2011 at 11:46 a.m.
    Klinsmen should be put in charge of US Soccer, not have to answer to it.Give him a long term contract to hire coaches and trainers at all levels of US Soccer and to revamp the current selection and training programs. I think Klinsmen right now is the only person who has the ineternational soccer credenitals to pull it off, as well as being a full time American resident.Everyone else should stand aside and let him do his work.

  1. Tyler Dennis
    commented on: July 1, 2011 at 1:09 p.m.
    Lots of complaints, but not positive ideas. If there are other players worthy of being on the USMNT, where are they? I can think of one, Torres, but the others? Everyone says, where are the latinos? I'd like to echo that. Where are the U.S. Latino players that are so good that they are on teams in Europe, Latin and South America and even in MLS? They aren't there, so I would say they don't exist. I see everyone of our guys playing in Europe and a few in MLS, but are there others? NOPE? So, if professional teams the world over can pick talent, then they've picked our only good talent. As bleak as this seems at least they've gone through some type of filtering process to get on the USMNT and why should Bradley not pick the guys that every coach making 10x what he makes have it right? His job is easy, he only has to pick the players that play on those teams, it's not like Brazil where he would have to be good at his job to figure out who should be on the team because of the many options.

  1. K Lewis
    commented on: July 3, 2011 at 9:14 a.m.
    Spot on - I agree. I have watched as one of the most heralded (British) club coaches in the top club soccer in the midwest - picks only "big boys". All very tall and strong, but no skills. In state cup, he long balled an entire match because his middies couldn't handle the ball and possession therefore was not an option. Big works some of the time sadly, but true skills, brains, and understanding the game will win most of the time.

  1. Ruben Valencia
    commented on: July 5, 2011 at 1:54 a.m.
    I'm an avid Team USA fan, and patriot through and through. Tha having bene stated, I hate to say this guys, but I bet I could find a dozen kids here in El Paso, Texas of Hispanic descent that could out-play the best of what the "Youth Development Programs" have to offer our US team... We are looking in the wrong places for talent...Furthermore, and most sadly, I bet all 6 would rather play for the Mexican team if given the chance, because of the fervor the fans have for the Mexican game, and for the talent it has put forth to world soccer. The US, on the other hand, has not supported the USMNT as it should in terms of media coverage, and most crucially, with open mind in terms of what to look for in a quality player (please, in that disappointing loss to Mexico, our specimen athletes looked like giraffes trying to out-juke cheetahs, let's admit it.) Is there is no effort afoot, much less a program in place that comes close to providing goodwill to these kids, and motivating them to even vie for a spot on the US team? As long as we continue on this path, failing to effectively sell the USMNT, and reach out to these kids, a large part of the heart, talent, and skill of American soccer will continue to be missed, as these overlooked, and undeestimated youth will continue to opt for a Mexican jersey over that of my beloved USA.

  1. Ruben Valencia
    commented on: July 5, 2011 at 2:02 a.m.
    Apologies for failing to mention the other 6 players of my dozen ...they'd stop playing at the high school level as many do, due to the lack if interest in the college game here in the States. But that's another tragedy altogether.

  1. Robert Watts
    commented on: July 5, 2011 at 3:22 a.m.
    We need a team who can prepare to be up 2 goals just the same as they prepare to be down 2 goals. It's overall concept of how to manage a game that's keeping the US from progressing. We all seem to just be running off fundamentals, and hoping that their teammates share the same idea of what fundamentals are. (Well, I looked up and saw this, so I kicked the ball there, as the teammate in question checks to the ball instead or whatever). Its like we hope that the overall coaching concept of youth soccer in USA will prepare people for playing on a team of strangers.

  1. JUAN CARLOS CANTU
    commented on: July 10, 2011 at 3:05 p.m.
    I am Mexican --Been living in the U.S. for 5 years on a working visa-- and LOVE the "beautiful game". I root for Mexico, but consider myself a soccer fan first. That Gold Cup game was result of a US team that has become too old without a fresher generation behind it to back it up, but more importantly -as Paul has clearly put it--, it's the result of the US embracing a physical style over the style of jogo bonito (called in the article "latin"). It doesn't have to be that black and white. Any team needs some "gladiators" in the back --the US wouldn't have a problem finding them-- but also (and perhaps more importantly), EVERY team NEEDS artists. The reason soccer is the most popular sport in the world is not because people pay tickets to see the Cannavaro's, the Materazzi's, the Rafa Marquez's, the Bocanegras, the Puyol's or the Rio Ferdinand's. They pay tickets and sit hours in front of the TV waiting to see that Gio Dos Santos chipped goal -or that Donovan goal against Algeria- that make you scream and feel alive. Fútbol is, -at least to me- a sort of art form to some degree. The day Gulati understands this, and constructs an infrastructure adhoc to make sure you give the "artists" the opportunity to shine in the MLS, that's when the US will start re-emerging as an elite, respected Fútbol.


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