Setting the record straight

[MY VIEW] Bob Bradley indeed wasted a valuable opportunity against Brazil last Tuesday at the New Meadowlands. By fielding a squad of mostly regulars, he squandered a great chance for the USA to be humiliated.

Let’s review: Sellout crowd of more than 77,000, against Brazil, on national TV, in the USA's first game in the new stadium, with a day or so for the Americans to travel, recover from weekend games or preseason training, and face a young but very talented cross-section of the world’s greatest and most glorious tradition of teams and players. Go young and brave and go for it! Yeah, that’ll work.

Send out your young and inexperienced and unproven, and watch them wet the bed. It defies all logic to ponder, much less believe, that the ranks of those uncapped or rarely capped, or better yet an U-20 squad, was the way to go. But there are plenty of fans and purported pundits who claim that to be the case.

Hot off that huge – excuse me – massive win in the Milk Cup, our U-20s would teach those pouty Brazilians a few things, right? Please. Remember what happened when Brazilian club Santos sent its teenage team to help New York open its new stadium? The Red Bulls stampeded their foes.

How would a mix of fringe national team players and blossoming U-20s have fared? I can just see Gabe Agbossoumonde throttling Alexandre Pato! Actually, no, I can’t.

Never mind that any competent coach or executive or technical director or person of relative sanity would unequivocally state the best way to “blood” (British word) young players in a new environment is to sprinkle them into a competitive lineup. Throwing them en masse into a harsh, daunting situation is the best way to crush their confidence; if most or all of them are overmatched, how can they possibly do anything but fail, and probably fail miserably?

Forget the current U-20s, the crop of players who competed in Canada three years ago – and reached the quarterfinals – is still wedging its way into the senior team. Aside from Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, we’re still waiting.

This doesn’t mean Bob Bradley is the perfect choice to take on another four-year cycle. He will have offers from MLS teams or could snag a proposal from a second- or third-tier national team. But an EPL club like Fulham or Aston Villa? Not likely. He hasn’t played nor coached in England, and outside of the biggest clubs, foreigners with no English coaching or playing experience are uncommon. If you haven’t been there, it’s tough to get there. Steve Nicol, Paul Mariner or Frank Yallop would be more likely candidates than Bradley, despite his keen acumen for the workings of soccer in Britain and the continent. Rightly or wrongly, that’s just the way it is.

How many Spanish clubs have come calling for Bradley since that spectacular defeat of Spain last summer in the Confederations Cup? Was Bruce Arena besieged by European teams after his 2002 World Cup exploits? Arsene Wenger has signed a new contract with Arsenal, but if his future was in doubt, would former MLS deputy commissioner and club CEO Ivan Gazidis stake his team’s future on Bob Bradley?

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner may be American, but the Villa board isn’t, and the board runs the club while Lerner signs the checks. As is the case when any high-profile coaching job opens up, agents and representatives put forth the names of their clients to be considered; such was the case for Bradley in both the Fulham and Villa situations. In industry parlance, he was “presented,” whereas a more apt term would be “dangled.”

Somehow Bradley rose in the cyberworld to be the top candidate for both positions and by one account resigned from the U.S. team after the Brazil game to take the Villa job. I can assume he might have addressed the possibility that if a replacement is hired before the next round of matches in October, the Brazil game was indeed his last in charge. But that’s not quite the same as resigning.

One possible candidate can be eliminated: Argentine Marcelo Bielsa, who has been retained by Chile, which reached the second round in South Africa under Bielsa’s guidance. There are certainly men who can upgrade the U.S. team and the program, but they will have to want the job very badly to be any good at it.

The U.S. performance against Brazil, after the first 15 or 20 minutes, disappointed a lot of people, me included. There aren’t any excuses and games like this are painful reminders that our best players have their mediocre days, or worse.

11 comments about "Setting the record straight".
  1. Bob Gulla, August 16, 2010 at 9:43 a.m.

    I've read this article twice and still don't understand it. What record is being set straight? Is the writer sarcastic or serious, both or neither? Is it about Coach Bradley, the U-20s, both or neither? Is it about how our good players didn't play well vs Brazil, because that's the way it ends. The only thing certain here is that I'll never get the time I spent reading this murky stuff back.

  2. Andrew Bilinski, August 16, 2010 at 10:12 a.m.

    Bob, that makes two of us. Meh. A sign of the times when everyone is trying to do too many things at once. LOL

  3. Joe Grady, August 16, 2010 at 10:43 a.m.

    yeah...ridge is usually a good writer...this effort? Meh. Way wide of the goal and over the touch line for a throw in.

  4. Carl Walther, August 16, 2010 at 10:56 a.m.

    Bob and Andrew - Me either. Maybe the writer is just pissed off at everything and everyone. It sure is an unfocused article.

  5. Robert Kiernan, August 16, 2010 at 11:34 a.m.

    OK, first,just who EVER made public the idea to go with a team predominantly made up of u-20 players? Certainly that was NOT the chatter that I was hearing before this farce,no this match was a case of making MONEY, it had little or nothing to do with developing our senior team for next years GOLD CUP, which at this point looks really to be our most pressing need. BUT, back to just who was coaching this festival of football... Bob Bradley, now THERE WAS SOMETHING EVERYONE WAS TALKING ABOUT!!
    This man managed to have NO reserve wing fullback handy if his boy BORNSTEIN or the other Jonathan, SPECTOR were to have been injured and since neither of these two really looked comfortable trying to mark any of the BRAZILIANS, but still, YOU BRING A RESERVE WING FULLBACK!!!
    When you have arguably TWO players in camp able to play as the midfield MAESTRO, Donovan and Feilhaber, and you chose to use one of them as one of your Strikers, well then you don't substitute the other off at the start of the second half, and you certainly don't turn the job over to Sacha KLJESTAN and expect more precise CONTROL, but that is what Bob Bradley DID DO, then to take off DONOVAN and in effect play a 4-3-3 WITHOUT ANYONE able to remotely control distribution to all these wonderful forwards Bob has so strategically placed on the field... oh and of course waiting till the very last to place GOMEZ on the field because Robbie Findley and Jozy ALTIDORE were such a bang up pair in all the previous matches!??
    Ridge...what are you writing about... the lack of new faces when clearly the only face that matters is the face of Bob Bradley continuing to make poor use of those players he ALREADY DOES HAVE!??
    If you want to be indignant, why not start with the fact that this match was solely played for the big crowd and the money it would bring in... but had next to nothing to do with ANY sort of long term development of our team...who was out there that hadn't been before... by chance of injury Omar GONZALEZ finally got to see the field in a US Jersey, but that wasn't the plan... Jermaine JONES backed out, as he wanted to re-establish his position with his club side, SHALKE...but WHY was THAT little event handled so damned poorly? ...and if we were going to bring in a replacement for JONES...Why ALTIDORE, and not Paco TORRES who might have played in a similar manner to the DMF???
    You ask about how Gabe AGBOSSOUMONDE would fair against the BRAZILIANS...well how would Chad MARSHALL have fared... of the two I know the one long term that I would put my money on... no this should be about how thin the player pool is getting and about the fact that several of our starters, especially in the back are getting rather long in the tooth and what will be needed to change to keep us competitive this coming year.
    This needs to be about WHY keeping Bob Bradley as the coach has in effect put the team in a kind of stasis...and that is something we simply can not afford to do for very long!

  6. Kyr-Roger St.-Denis, August 16, 2010 at 12:26 p.m.

    Maybe ol' Bob learned something valuable after sending our juniors to be humiliated in South America after the Gold Cup win a few years back.

  7. Jeff Gingold, August 16, 2010 at 12:39 p.m.

    It's time for a fresh approach. Instead of comparing our options to how the US team did in the past, we need to focus on what it will take to win the World Cup going forward. Our competition is the youth of Germany, Ghana, France, Spain, and yes, of course there is always Brazil. Bring on Klinsmann and let's get on with it!

  8. Mark Ellis, August 16, 2010 at 12:54 p.m.

    As most of you stated, I'm not sure what this article is stating. For or against Bradley?
    Just reminds me of a quote from Billy Madison, the movie.

    -adapted to this article
    Mr. Mahoney, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent article were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  9. John Bolger, August 16, 2010 at 2:56 p.m.

    I was about to reread this article, figuring my ADD kicked in, when I read Bob Gulla's comments......Thank you Bob, once was enough.

  10. David Huff, August 16, 2010 at 3:37 p.m.

    I think this article was meant to be a defense of MLS Bob's decision to go with mostly veteran players against Brasil rather than experimenting with younger ones. The USSF is reluctant to let go of MLS Bob because he is their boy, always cooperative with their dictates and requests.

  11. Brian Herbert, August 17, 2010 at 10:08 a.m.

    This article confused me until I read the comments, then I realized it was intended to be confusing. Baffle them with BS, and berate those who bash Big Bob.

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