History doesn't favor Bob Bradley

[MY VIEW] Should Coach Bob Bradley stay or go? As U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati ponders this difficult decision, not to be ignored is history's demonstration that a long tenure as national team boss isn’t a reliable formula for World Cup success.

However exciting the USA’s 2010 run in South Africa may have been, it ended unsatisfactorily with a round-of-16 exit.

Bradley’s team met the minimum expectation and couldn’t match the 2002 achievement, when Bruce Arena guided the USA to quarterfinals.

Surely the Arena experience warrants a revisit. He stayed on for four more years after the quarterfinal run -- making him the longest-serving national team coach at the 2006 World Cup -- and the USA exited in the first round. One got the sense that eight years -- an almost unheard of tenure in international soccer – was simply too long.

Not one of the 2010 World Cup quarterfinalists was coached by a man who had been in charge at the previous World Cup.

In fact, only two of the 32 teams at the 2010 World Cup were headed by their 2006 World Cup coaches: Marcello Lippi, who won the 2006 title with Italy, and Raymond Domenech, who guided France to a runner-up finish in 2006.

Both Lippi (who left after the 2006 World Cup and then returned after Euro 2008) and Domenech presided over embarrassing first-round exits.

The 2010 World Cup champion Spain and runner-up Netherlands were coached by men who took charge in 2008. Only three coaches (see below) were in charge eight or more years when they led their team to the World Cup title.

For whatever qualities Bradley has, and no doubt there are many, changing the boss seems the more likely prescription for World Cup progress.

World Cup champion coaches
1930 Alberto Supici, Uruguay (2 years)
1934 Vittorio Pozzo, Italy (5 years)
1938 Vittorio Pozzo, Italy (9 years)
1950 Juan Lopez, Uruguay (4 years)
1954 *Sepp Herberger, West Germany (10 years)
1958 Vicente Feola, Brazil (1st year)
1962 Aymore Moreira, Brazil (1 year)
1966 Alf Ramsey, England (3 years)
1970 Mario Zagallo, Brazil (1st year)
1974 Helmut Schoen, West Germany (10 years)
1978 Cesar Luis Menotti, Argentina (4 years)
1982 Enzo Bearzot, Italy (7 years)
1986 Carlos Bilardo, Argentina (3 years)
1990 Franz Beckenbauer, West Germany (6 years)
1994 Carlos Alberto Parreira, Brazil (3 years)
1998 Aime Jacquet, France (6 years)
2002 Luiz Felipe Scolari, Brazil (1 year)
2006 Marcello Lippi, Italy (2 years)
2010 Vicente del Bosque, Spain (2 years)
*Herberger's tenure was interrupted by World War II.

12 comments about "History doesn't favor Bob Bradley ".
  1. Jeff Gingold, July 26, 2010 at 2:38 p.m.

    Bradley did a very good job. I particularly appreciate the speed with which he adjusted during WC matches to address lineup errors. Of course it would have been better if those errors had not occurred, and it's mystefying why repeated early match goal leaks couldn't be plugged. But that's not why I think it's time for someone else to take the reins. When you've been the coach for that long, player relationships that made for positive results become outweighed by a sense of being beholden to the guys that got you there. It would be difficult not to give them the benefit of the doubt over a younger player trying to make the squad. But that's not what's needed now. It's time for a generation shift to position US to compete with the likes of Germany and Ghana. If it's possible to get Klinsmann, it would be a good move for US Soccer. It also would be good for Bob Bradley to try his hand at international club football. A fresh shot at the next level is needed ---with sincere thanks to Bob Bradley for all that he has done.

  2. Jim Murphy, July 26, 2010 at 2:55 p.m.

    Agreed that if Bradley is still in charge in 2014, it would be an invitation for disaster. Players need to be motivated and challenged constantly, and there's no way that a Bradley-coached team in 2014, after him having been in charge for eight years, would be able to sustain the level of performance needed to compete at the highest level. And if they're going to make a change, better to do it now, rather than on the fly, like after the Gold Cup, or prior to the start of qualifying.

    It was obvious from hearing Klinsmann on ESPN that he wants the job and knows what needs to be done. All that remains to be seen is if the powers that be at USSF want to give him the authority he would want.

  3. Juan R, July 26, 2010 at 3:22 p.m.

    Bob was good for US Soccer, but it's time to get some new blood and motivation for players to prove themselves. Klinsmann would be awesome!

  4. Christopher Holden, July 26, 2010 at 4:25 p.m.

    Sorry but the bar was set too low, and Bob Bradley missed it badly. His team had the talent (despite some off the wall selections) to go to the Semi Finals. What a dream draw! It setup perfectly for Team USA to reach the semi's. To say job well done as the only coach to have won their group and not make it past the round of 16 is an insult to Bob Bradley. He is a smart enough man to know he blew it. Even the players knew they had a great opportunity in front of them. The team under performed, and the coach, as the ultimate leader of the team, takes it on the chin. That team should have made it past Ghana, and Uruguay, minimum.

  5. Karl Ortmertl, July 26, 2010 at 4:32 p.m.

    The US needs a coach who can set up a defense that can keep its position. A defensive blunder or two per game is a recipe for disaster. The US has world class offensive players and will continue to have them next world cup. Its the defense that needs to improve dramatically and Bradley is not up to it. The Ghana match was a perfect example. Germany needed to shut Ghana down in their final group game - and did. The US needed to shut Ghana down in their first knockout game - and didn't. I like Guus Hiddink. If not him, Jurgen Klinsman would be my next choice.

  6. Robert Kiernan, July 26, 2010 at 6:12 p.m.

    It seems obvious that with Bocanegra, Cherundolo and DeMerit all over the age of 30, that we need to rebuild our defense almost from scratch... I'd think that to be competitive over the next two years we need to think about culling between a third to about half of our current player pool...and to do this will take a steady hand...sad to say but if the current coaching staff is making those decisions, we might have a repeat of some of the curious decisions that lead up to the selection of our squad for this past World Cup... I'm thinking about say, how we carried DaMarcus Beasley instead of taking some younger attacking left sided midfielder like Alejandro Bedoya or Robbie Rogers... how we didn't include Omar Gonzalez even in the 30 man provisional team while including Chad Marshall even when Marshall clearly wasn't fit to play.
    We now clearly need to bring in players under 30 and start USING THEM... players like Eric Lichaj, Frank Simek, Zac Whitbread, Edgar Castillo... maybe give Mike Grella a call up, or Marcus Tracy if he is ever healthy... and then there are somewhat older players that still are young enough to be real assets to our player pool, say Charles Kazlauskas or Jermaine Jones... a new coach would more easily be able to assess the situation with less emotion and possibly see something in a player that others had missed... look at the way Bobby Convey is playing this year, and remember he's 27 and has been a professional here and in England now for more than a decade... then there is the niggling little fact that Bob Bradley just seems hesitant to play his ball control type players, often not as large, over his tree stump players...I'm thinking Holden, Torres, Feilhaber... but instead the Ricardo Clark's and the Conor Casey's... size yes, but often, how should I put it...lacking in subtlety... but with next year's Gold Cup being the key to a return to the Confederations cup, a 5-0 loss to Mexico is just not acceptable, and if you remember just how poorly we did when Bradley was at the helm for our last run at the COPA AMERICA, well that is something to think about as well.
    Let's hope that Yura Movsisyan get's his citizenship and soon and might be a key at age 22 for our Olympic squad.

  7. Kent James, July 27, 2010 at 9:58 a.m.

    Bradley has done a very good job during his tenure; although I didn't agree with all of his players selections (especially the opportunities he gave Findlay), I liked most of them. But this article makes a great point; one of the hardest things in soccer is to determine when one of your quality players has lost enough that they should be replaced by a younger player with potential, and having the same coach will make that decision even more difficult. It is not a criticism of Bradley to say that now is the time for the US to change coaches.

  8. Jiminez Hernandes, July 27, 2010 at 10:17 a.m.

    Bob Bradley is for sure a very nice gentleman and how are you telling him that he has to go. However, that's why we have Sunil he will find a way.
    Here is an idea. Why not look for a top notch Youth Coach, we have some very good coaches with international experience, they would have sufficient time to mold top notch players around him and get them ready for 2014, Our players right now to darn old and can't last the duration of 90 minutes.
    Just an idea.

  9. Steven SIegel, July 27, 2010 at 12:35 p.m.

    The US did about right making it to the round of 16. They were not one of the top eight teams in the world, and Ghana was a formidable opponent. Wishful thinking doesn't win soccer games.

    I don't think any coach should expect to stay on for more than one world cup.

  10. Mj Lee, July 27, 2010 at 1:56 p.m.

    Bradley's gotta move on. End of story.

  11. Thomas Smeeth, July 27, 2010 at 4:33 p.m.

    While it's appropriate to acknowledge Bradley for his accomplishments - best finish in the European time zones, as well as the Southern hemisphere (since '30) - many have forgotten what the USSF set about in 1990: a 20-year plan to be in position to WIN the World Cup by 2010. Clearly that has failed, so no wonder US Soccer doesn't remind us.
    But what has been accomplished is a significant step forward for the US player.
    I'm of the opinion it is US Soccer's approach that needs to be changed, along with Bradley.
    Revisit the parameters required by Mr. Klinsman and initiate his tenure with total choice and responsibility on his shoulders, with our sharp American assistants helping and learning under fire & his tutelage.
    What we will hopefully see is the accelerated development of our young players. (The failure of US Soccer to choose promising young players led to poor performance in the World Cup by the few who got minute, but also may have factored into losing key players to alternate national teams (Slovakia, Italy - tho Rossi didn't get selected, imagine he might have helped on our scoring front?!)
    Key question: Also consider how international soccer will borrow from champions Spain, adapting the Spanish and Barcelona style in upcoming years into respective national soccer cultures.
    How will the US adapt and integrate the individual skills and soccer minds into our 'system of play'??

  12. David Huff, July 27, 2010 at 6:11 p.m.

    MLS Bradley needs to go, bring in a quality foreign coach such as Klinsman, Ricardo LaVolpe, Jose Pekerman or Guus Hiddink. Unfortunately the USSF powers that be, starting with Sunil Gulati and Dan Flynn, may feel otherwise about yielding the necessary levers of control for an effective USMNT. Just look at the improvement though when the women received their foreign coach, Pia Sundhage. The men's team deserves similar attention.

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications