[U.S. SOCCER] After a long career as college and MLS coach, and Bob Bradley took the U.S. helm in December 2006 after the U.S. Soccer Federation's prolonged negotiations with Juergen Klinsmann to replace Bruce Arena fell through. Bradley was let go on Thursday after four and a half years in charge. Here's a look at the USA's highs and lows in the Bradley era ...
YEAR 1 (2007)
HIGH. In his second game in charge, the USA beat Mexico, 2-1, in a February friendly in Arizona on goals by Jimmy Conrad and Landon Donovan. The victory, sandwiched between exhibition wins over Denmark and Ecuador, made Bradley the first U.S. coach to win his first three games. In May, he had the interim label removed.
HIGH. In his first Gold Cup in charge, Bradley celebrated a win over Mexico in the final, 2-1 in Chicago before a sellout crowd of 60,000 at Soldier Field in Chicago. The title qualified the USA for the 2009 Confederations Cup, a dress rehearsal for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
LOW. Coming right after the Gold Cup, Bradley had to take mostly youngsters and second-stringers to the Copa America in Venezuela as the stars returned to their European or MLS clubs. The Americans fell 4-1 to Argentina, 3-1 to Paraguay, and 1-0 to Colombia.
YEAR 2 (2008)
HIGH. In preparation for World Cup qualifying, the USA played the world’s No. 1 ranked Argentina to a scoreless tie at Giants Stadium in front of 78,682, then reeled off six straight wins for the best start ever in World Cup qualifying.
YEAR 3 (2009)
HIGH. The USA under Bradley beat archrival Mexico for the third straight time -- 2-0 in Columbus, Ohio – in the first game of the final round of qualifying play for South Africa 2010. Bradley’s son, Michael, scored both goals.
LOW. The Americans started the Confederations Cup with 3-1 and 3-0 losses to Italy and Brazil, respectively, but …
HIGH. A 3-0 win over Egypt in the final group game at the Confederations Cup – combined with Italy’s 3-0 loss to Brazil -- put the Americans in the semifinals, where they beat Spain, 2-0, ending the European champion’s 35-game unbeaten streak. The USA played some brilliant soccer in the final against Brazil, took a 2-0 lead, but fell, 3-2.
LOW. Mexico thumped the USA, 5-0, in the Gold Cup final. It was the worst U.S. loss since a 5-0 defeat by England in a 1985 friendly.
HIGH. A 3-2 win at Honduras clinched a spot for the USA in the 2010 World Cup with one game left. Four days later, the USA tied Costa Rica, 2-2, in Washington, D.C., to finish first, ahead of Mexico, in the Hexagonal.
YEAR 4 (2010)
HIGH. Thanks to a major blunder by England goalkeeper Robert Green on Clint Dempsey’s long-range effort, the USA earned a 1-1 tie in its 2010 World Cup opener. The Americans came back again to tie Slovenia, 2-2, and in the third group game, thanks to a last-minute goal by Landon Donovan, beat Algeria, 1-0, to win the group and advance to the round of 16 – four years after a first-round exit in the World Cup.
LOW. Plagued by bad starts at the World Cup, the USA fell behind Ghana in the 5th minute when Ricardo Clark, a defensive midfielder whom Bradley had reinserted in the lineup, was stripped of the ball on what led to Ghana’s opening goal. Clark was cautioned in the 7th minute -- and subbed out by Bradley in the 31st minute. The Americans came back on a Donovan penalty kick but lost, 2-1, after overtime.
LOW. Bradley, still not assured of whether he would be rehired, led the USA into its first post-World Cup game in August against Brazil at the New Giants Stadium, and 77,223 fans witnessed a lackluster performance and 2-0 loss to a young Brazilian team. U.S. Soccer re-signed Bradley to a four-year contract later that month.
YEAR 5 (2011)
LOW. A 1-0 loss to Paraguay in March in Nashville gave the USA a six-game winless streak at home -- its longest since 1998. The streak reached seven in June win the USA was thumped, 4-0, by Spain. The Americans had now scored only three goals in their last six games.
LOW. After opening the Gold Cup with a 2-0 win over Canada, the Americans fell, 2-1, to Panama. They reached the second round thanks to a 1-0 win over Guadeloupe, which plays in Concacaf's regional competition but as a French department (population: 400,000) is not eligible for FIFA competition.
LOW. In the Gold Cup final, the USA took a 2-0 lead but was totally outclassed by a young Mexican team and falls, 4-2. The defeat meant the USA will miss out on the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil. Bradley is let go five months later.