Sorry, no conspiracies at work in U.S. camp

[USA CONFIDENTIAL] Since they never go away, merely fade for a while only to re-appear, any time is a good time to address the widespread injustices perceived by the American soccer cognoscenti.

Our subjects today are Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, probably the two most maligned players in the current squad.

Belief: Jose Francisco Torres is one of many Hispanic players being suppressed by U.S. Soccer, and specifically by Bob Bradley, so no one can challenge his son’s place in midfield.

Truth: Bradley is certainly not what fans and journalists envision as a brilliant, creative midfielder to direct the U.S. attack, but no other player has played as many club games for a foreign team at such a young age (23), not even Torres. And while Bradley can certainly control how many games his son plays for the USA, he’s probably not quite powerful enough to dictate selection and tactics to the coaches of clubs like Heerenveen, Borussia Moenchengladbach, and Aston Villa, for which Michael Bradley seldom played while on loan.

He’s a two-way midfielder still maturing, one of the team’s better passers and tacklers rolled into one, a class above his U.S. teammates in combined abilities, with a nose for goal, too. While he doesn’t have the range of Ricardo Clark, he’s not nearly as erratic and error-prone, either.

In time, maybe Stuart Holden or Benny Feilhaber (both currently injured) or even Sacha Kljestan can step forward as a true No. 10. Jermaine Jones might also emerge as serious challenger to Bradley’s dual role if one of those playmakers claims a regular place, but Jones is much older (29) and will be on that dreaded fringe of old-ish at the international level by the time 2014 comes around.

Yet if the coach is so terrified of Jones, why is he in the squad? Maybe because he can help the team win and not only play alongside Michael Bradley but replace him if necessary?

The current trend of some teams to use a wide player as the primary attacking catalyst is still a notion unaccepted by large swaths of the American soccer community, though it seems to have worked well in the cases of Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and even Lionel Messi, among others. In the current lineup, much more of the true attacking impetus comes from Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey stationed out wide; they relished the space carved out by Juan Agudelo and Altidore to out-class a very confused Canada.

The anti-Hispanic conspiracy crowd is still seething over Torres, but a look at his current situation doesn’t bolster that case, either. He’s always been a role player for Pachuca, a complementary element to more dynamic and clever creators, and hasn’t been able to claim irreplaceable status for the club as those players – such as Christian Gimenez, who went to Cruz Azul a year and a half ago -- have moved on.

During the Clausura season that just ended -- Pachuca finished 13th in the overall standings and missed the playoffs -- in 13 games he scored zero goals, but did lead the team in one category: yellow cards, of which he incurred seven. It’s hard for me to fathom that he can be handed the reins to lead the U.S. attack against teams like Argentina, England, Spain and Mexico, but that is apparently what a lot of people believe. They also contend that switching to a 4-3-3 formation would enable Torres to blossom into an international-class playmaker, and sorry, I’m not buying that, either, at least not yet.

But I don’t think his U.S. career is over, either, nor should it be. He’s the same age as Michael Bradley, with plenty of room and time to grow, and as Bob Bradley has shown with certain Gold Cup selections – Kljestan and Freddy Adu in particular – he keeps his eye on players others have cast aside.

Torres got a start last summer at the World Cup against Slovenia. Aside from a nice free kick that was saved, Torres seldom looked capable of much, especially orchestrating the attack. And speaking of the World Cup ….

Besides Michael Bradley – and Torres, in absentia – probably only Altidore triggers such virulent reaction. Part of this is a strange tendency to either play poorly or pretty well, though there’s hardly a consensus if the latter occurs. I doubt if any other player – except Bradley, of course – could be so thoroughly ripped for scoring a “lucky” goal against Canada.

Let’s see: he got forward into space to control a ball in the penalty area, and while marked at a tough angle, drilled a hard, low shot the keeper couldn’t handle. Should it been saved? Yeah, but keepers occasionally get nutmegged when their attempted kick-save misses, or they try to get down in time to smother the ball, as did goalie Lars Hirschfeld, and it wriggles under them into the net. Read some posts, and you’d think Altidore scored with a feeble bouncer that deflected off two opponents and the goalie batted into his own net. Hardly.

It’s not luck when you force an opponent to make a play in a critical situation, and he can’t. Tim Howard was in the same situation twice, and came up big twice. He’s not luckier than Hirschfield, he’s better. A lot better. Isn’t that the essence of winning, being better than the opponents, and making plays when they don’t? Hirschfield stopped two shots from Agudelo that were less threatening than Altidore’s low laser.

Against Canada, Altidore set up a goal from the right wing with a precise centering ball that Agudelo, fortunately, didn’t get a big enough piece of to deflect out of Dempsey’s path. Altidore also fluffed one great chance served up by Dempsey and for that he should be, and has been, criticized. Forwards ain't perfect, either.

If Altidore is such a slug, as many contend, how did he get up the right flank in the 93rd minute against Algeria at the World Cup last year to drive a ball across goal that Dempsey put on frame and Donovan followed up to lash into the net? He played every minute of that game, remember, and even when sharp, he’s not going to scorch anybody with his pace, except maybe the often-plodding defenders he used to victimize in MLS. He was also a standout against Slovenia.

One of his weaknesses is staying sharp and in shape without regular playing time, which isn’t an issue with Michael Bradley and a few other players. This has plagued Altidore since he left New York. Don’t think the U.S. Soccer coaching staff isn’t acutely aware of self-motivation and consistency and confidence factors when they assess Altidore. He’s starting in the Gold Cup because he’s young (21) and they need him.

Altidore is far from being The Solution, no question. If Charlie Davies is healthy and back in Bradley’s good graces, he’d be well ahead of Altidore on the depth chart. A recall for Herculez Gomez might have been in order, though he didn’t start scoring until late in the season with Pachuca already falling out of contention.

Bradley is giving a long look to Chris Wondolowski to assess his value to the team and compare his attributes to those of players like Gomez. Makes sense to me. Even with qualifiers not starting until next year, now is the ideal time to see if Wondo can do the business against Concacaf opposition. If not, he’ll be dropped.

Replacing Bob Bradley is another issue -- and a relevant one -- to be addressed at another time. The current coach and his pool of players are what concern us here.

Everybody wants the coach to look at new players, that is, until one of their favorites gets dropped to make room. Then it’s a conspiracy, or stupidity, or both. Whatever.

61 comments about "Sorry, no conspiracies at work in U.S. camp".
  1. Ken Sweda, June 9, 2011 at 6:16 p.m.

    Altidore got up the field in the 93rd minute precisely because it was the 93rd minute. Algeria does not have the training regimen that we do. The problem is Altidore can't do the same from the 1st minute. He stays at one level, a level that is short of many players in the early parts of the game, but by virtue of our superior training, puts him slightly above those same players later on.

  2. ckg beautiful game, June 10, 2011 at 8:23 a.m.

    The criticism MB takes because his dad is the coach is really shocking. He by far as witnessed when he is not in the lineup is superior to any of our current choices. Until we change our style of play MB will be the best selection for center mid. JJ has been a bust, Freddy could possibly in a different setup but would fail in the current US style of play. We usually have one move off the ball as our option, playmakers need several choices. That's why MB is best selection, he out of all those mentioned can make the pass to one guy trying to get open. The rest lose it, get caught out, causing our centerbacks to be rent in two, but we always have Tim howard to save the day.

  3. Ernest Irelan, June 10, 2011 at 8:46 a.m.

    nothing more difficult that having a son or daughter on the team one coaches. It is also very hard on the player, no easy choice here. The player has to be so good that it is so obvious to specatators that it is an embarrassement to them an team mates if player is on the bench. I do not believe that just because a player is 30, he is over the hill...some of th e world's best are much older an still outplaying the youngsters, just by staying in condition an experience making up the difference. I believe each case has to be judged on performance. B Bradley is walking a tightrope, just happy to not be in his position...or his son....

  4. Eric Shinn, June 10, 2011 at 8:56 a.m.

    Ken - So, how does that explain his goals against Canada and Spain, or the setup in the exact same situation against Canada last weekend? None of those took place in the last minute of the game.

    Great article, Mr. Mahoney. I think it's going to be interesting when Stu gets healthy, as I don't know how well he and MB will pair up (or if that is the final straw that moves Clint forward) or how that would work out with both of them tending to push forward more often than not. I definitely think Stu is a future star for the Nats, I'm just not sure how we're fitting him in.

  5. David Sirias, June 10, 2011 at 9:13 a.m.

    The more the press defends Bradley the more revulsion I get. The article says is all JFT would play more if bob had a different system. Duh. He has one system : the one designed for hid kid Even when he has the lead and needs to kill off games bob plays the same system. He puts in players like jonnie bornstein and sash k -- those notes high possession low turnover players ( sarcasm ) JFT is the only player with a true possession skillet on the whole roster And that skillet might be needed at any time in a given tournament. And to those who say that his club situation is not good. Uuum look a jozy. On the team only because of a needed skill set
    Always ! despite uuum not ideal club situations.
    Ridge. Your double standard lying eyes are right in your head. You just don't know it.

  6. Albert Harris, June 10, 2011 at 9:34 a.m.

    Glad you didn't make it personal, David.

  7. Theodore Eison, June 10, 2011 at 9:53 a.m.

    Ridge Mahoney wrote a good article, bringing up good points. Does the article express the absolute correct point of view? Surely not in all cases. David has a point, albeit his tone detracts from his message. I enjoy calm intellectual debate. I commend Mr. Mahoney for setting that tone, and I'm disappointed in David for veering from it.

  8. Doug Lister, June 10, 2011 at 10:16 a.m.

    What I get a kick out of is the number of people who obviously, like David, have Class "E" coaching licenses and are probably the next big hire at US Soccer. I love the fact that they'll be the next coach to get the stars and stripes to the final of the Confed. Cup. And that they'll be the ones to get us over the hump and actually win that and the WC too. How's that for Sarcasm? I know that lots of people might agree with David, but I'll take BB as long as he's there and stand behind him.

  9. jack lighthiser, June 10, 2011 at 10:45 a.m.

    Are they playing the wrong formation given the talent? (probably) Do they not have the right players in midfield? (uh huh). Is Michael Bradley one of the 11 best on the roster? I think so. Canada is no indicator, Spain's 3rd team is. The defense is the problem. (Ask Tim Howard) Why is MB not playing fullback? He's a natural defender, not a natural mid. Just asking.

  10. Jesse Martinez, June 10, 2011 at 10:52 a.m.

    Kudo's to "Ragin" Ridge! Excellent article, Mr. Mahoney.

  11. Jorge Mikan, June 10, 2011 at 11:22 a.m.

    MB is a great player, very complete and solid. He is not Messi on attack, but Messi is not great at contention; MB is not Gatuzzo at contention, but Gatuzzo scores once every.... 5 years? MB is a well balanced player who is maturing and gaining experience. The playing style of the US team is not necessarily Bradley's (the father) invention; it's been the style for a very long time. It's more athletic than creative, it's more running and hustle that possession and creativity, product of watching too much English soccer and very little south american or Spanish soccer. So it's not a style created by the dad to have his son playing. Altidore? He got inflated too early and, while having the natural talent, he hasn't been developed to be a really powerful, dangerous forward. He needs to go back to basics, mature and really become productive. He can score because he's good, but he's far from being a dependable attacker.

  12. Kent James, June 10, 2011 at 11:45 a.m.

    Excellent article. If MB were not the coach's son, his spot on the roster would not be questioned. I was glad to see BB not start him against Spain (especially when tinkering with the line-up, other people need to be given the chance), but that game certainly demonstrated MB's value to the team. MB is one of the best two-way players we have. He excels at reading the game, intercepting passes, and getting the ball to our more creative players. He also goes forward with pace on occasion. In the Canada game he had two 1-touch hard shots he put on frame off of lose balls, and at least twice got around the right back to serve balls across the face of goal (not a bad offensive output for a defensive central midfielder). I have not been a big fan of Altidore primarily because he has no pace, his touch is suspect, and when he first started playing for the national team, he didn't seem to work very hard (inexcusable for a young kid trying to make an impression). On the other hand, Ridge's comments on his goal were right on; great run, great first touch, and excellent shot (I first thought the shot was soft, but the replay showed how good it was). And his work ethic has improved. He'll never be a world-class international forward, but he's doing better and we don't have a lot of quality forwards he's keeping off the field (though when Holden and Feilhaber are healthy, maybe Dempsey or Donovan can move up to make room in the MF where we have more options). I also appreciate the update on Torres. I would like to see more of him, and was wondering what was going on. I was disappointed in his play against Slovenia, but he deserves to be in the picture.

  13. Mark N, June 10, 2011 at 11:52 a.m.

    This article misses the biggest complaint of all - the question of playing time. It mentions JFT's single start in the WC, yet for the last 2-3 years it seems MB has played almost 100% of the minutes for USA. Yes, MB is growing into a good player, but apparently he is doing it at the expense of many other players' development. In 5 years, USA will be too reliant on one good player at CM unless something magical happens.

  14. Sam Axe, June 10, 2011 at 12:13 p.m.

    You can't have a kid on the team...
    This isn't little league baseball

    MB is OKAY... not good, not bad.
    He makes good passes(but so should any professional in a 10 spot). He is also a robot like his father. How many robots do you know that have creativity?

    BB is NOT OKAY... Tunnel Vision is not what you need to get past giants like Spain.

    BTW Canada is a high school soccer team. 2-0 really? The goals were PURE LUCK too which is amazing at that.

  15. Phil Richards, June 10, 2011 at 1:08 p.m.

    The Bradleys represent everything that is wrong with American soccer. The dad is a rigid, non-thinking type of coach, a throwback of 30 years. You can tell his players are scared to death of making mistakes so the usually make the wrong choice because they been taught it's too risky to play the ball to the middle of the field.

    Bradley, Jr is the archetype for US soccer. He's physical, he commits ridiculous fouls, he runs forever, and half the time you wonder if he's thinking at all. So in that aspect, I don't think there is bias in his selection, he's exactly the type of player his father looks for. The problem is, we have the wrong head coach and we look for the wrong type of players.

    We recently had a player selected from our club to join the Residency Program. Is he qualified? No. Is he tall? Very. Technically, he's in the lower half of the squad. That's not good for a 16 year old joining the Residency Program. Our values are all wrong if we want to compete at he International level.

  16. James Froehlich, June 10, 2011 at 1:50 p.m.

    Oh! Ridge, so many possible responses, so little time!! I am not a Michael basher. I definitely feel that he belongs on our top 11. However, as you agreed, he is not the “creative midfielder to direct the U.S. attack”. So why does BB constantly attempt to force him into that role? According to your analysis it’s because no other US player has played in so many games for his foreign teams. This is an utterly bogus “numbers” argument that totally ignores the caliber of the teams and leagues in which he has played, the position he played with them, and is further undercut by your own admission that three teams saw fit to limit his playing time. Moving on – where should he play? And who should replace him in midfield? I believe that it would be possible to get a majority agreement on MB as THE defensive mid, similar to Sergio Bosquets. Candidates for the more creative midfield roles currently could be Feilhaber, Holden, and Torres. However, if you are going to have a creative midfielder then you need players around him who can actually pass and trap under pressure and it is here that my biggest problem with BB and US Soccer generally lies. The soccer establishment, amongst which I include most of the soccer media (bloggers, announcers, etc.), most licensed soccer coaches, and the US Soccer management, chooses to publicly ignore the fact that most US players lack the fundamental soccer skills to play professionally. (Has John Harkes ever seen a poor pass???) It is considered almost unpatriotic to actually say that the national team’s skills are terrible. It’s the old “king has no clothes” mentality. And you Ridge, were notably representative of this in your ratings of the USMNT against Canada. --------- Getting back to creative midfielders --- In order to fairly judge what Feilhaber, Torres, and Holden could do you need to provide them a supporting cast and a strategy that actually matches their skills and then give them the playing time to prove it. No matter what you think of Torres, how can you possibly think that he has been fairly judged on the basis of the sporadic and limited playing time he has been given? Look at Feilhaber’s play in the WC and then ask where he disappeared to. It appears to me that BB is not comfortable with coaching a more creative, tight passing game and he picks players that fit his comfort zone. Therefore when a Feilhaber, Torres, or Holden (or any other creative player) pops up he is unable to figure out how to incorporate them into the national team strategy. Bottom line—I don’t hate MB or Jozy but I am driven apoplectic by the rose colored glasses worn by folks like you (Ridge). Criticism is the only way that things ever get better – pure time solves nothing.

  17. Karl Ortmertl, June 10, 2011 at 2:18 p.m.

    Disagree with everything you've said. Unfortunately for you, we've got eyes, so we see what a load of nothing has just been laid on us. The word "conspiracy" is an intriguing one. In America, it is the trigger for "disregard and denigrate anything the 'conspirators' say". A 2-0 win over a weak Canada squad doesn't change either of the Bradley's resume's. We are unlucky to have them both.

  18. Scott Nelson, June 10, 2011 at 2:44 p.m.

    Ric, you say that Torres has not been given "sufficient time to adapt to the team". How long should it take? Torres was in the World Cup squad and was training and working with the team every day in South Africa. That should have been plenty of time for him to adapt and make his case for inclusion in the team. As for the argument several have made that the MNT should adopt a new style and adapt to him, I don't think that's realistic. If we had nine more players like Torres, I'd say give it a shot, but we clearly don't. That day is probably coming sooner rather than later, but we aren't there now. But for a coach who has brought Adu back onto the radar and persisted with Eddie Johnson when that player had nothing to offer club or country, there should certainly be room for Torres in the Gold Cup pool.
    James... as for Fielhaber, who is also a very good player, It seems like BB always uses him when he's fit. But I see two concerns with Benny. One is that he shares an annoying proclivity with other "great young playmaking hopes" of the past (Reyna, John O'Brien,now Holden too...)in that the guy is always getting injured. The second is this... if you are going to downplay MB's achievements in the Dutch League and Bundesliga, you have to concede that Fielhabers' achievements in Scandinavia were patently unimpressive. Fielhaber played well in the WC but could not parlay that performance into a better gig, so there may be more than meets the eye in his case. At his age, would he have come back to MLS if he could have gone to Heerenveen or Gladbach? I do think MB deserves his place in the starting 11, but as for BB, I'm really really ready for some new ideas. How about Claudio Reyna, since US Soccer has let him write the "Soccer Blueprint"?

  19. James Froehlich, June 10, 2011 at 3:33 p.m.

    Scott, Couple comments. First re Torres. (1) BB doesn't like small players -- just look at the player pool. Also I rode next to Mike Sorber on a flight from Nashville after a game against T &T in which Torres played an entire half, and played great but was subbed at half time to the surprise of commentators and fans. Per Sorber, the problem with Torres was that he was too small to absorb the punishment!! (2) Saying that Torres had his chance in South Africa in practise to make his case is quite disingenuous. If he couldn't make his case to BB in the years before (short, sporadic appearances) how could he do so in a few weeks?? Regarding Feilhaber: (1)"It seems like BB always uses him when he's fit." And so why was he only brought on as a sub and then ignored immediately after sparkling performances at the WC? (2) I just double checked and I don't believe that I downplayed MB's achievements. I said that Ridge's justification for MB's inclusion on the NT was weak in merely relying on the number of years that MB has played with foreign teams and ignoring his bench-sitting . If you read my entire comment you would have noted that I placed MB on our best 11.
    Totally agree on need for BB to go but I'm delusional in still wanting to see Klinsmann, primarily for wanting to see him shake up US Soccer.

  20. Scott O'Connor, June 10, 2011 at 3:56 p.m.

    While I agree with many of the complaints about this piece, I also agree with the author that Michael is one of our best 11. He was brought into the USMNT mix by Bruce Arena. He has succeeded in the Dutch league and even earned a vertical transfer to Germany from his EUROPEAN exploits (not based on "promise" and stats piled up in MLS). My one complaint about how his Dad seems to favor him is that I have never seen him get subbed out of a game. That's how back-ups could get some playing time, if Bob would bring in some other center mids for Michael in the 65th minute of a game that is meaningless or well in hand. NEVER. I have never seen the coach sub out his son. Mike gets every minute of every game (except Spain, oddly) and that's not good for generating competent depth.

  21. Christopher Janusz, June 10, 2011 at 4:21 p.m.

    Few things. 1. MB very good player, deserves to be in the line-up, we see the difference when he's not. Period. 2. JFT. Also very good player, would love to see him excel with MNT. I think he deserves to be the squad more than second division Turkey Freddy. 3. Jozy's goal, was solid. Period. 4.Should we have taken care of Canada better. Yes! But remember, they are improving too. 5. Yes, BB plays safe soccer. I'm curious. What will happen when a new coach comes, shakes things up like we all want him to and we don't play safe and don't qualify for the World Cup? Will we still complain about BB? For those of you that might not remember us playing games at Budwiser Soccer Park in St. Louis, we have come a long way. I agree we are at a point where we need to step it up. But do we presently have what it takes to step it up? I'm not sure. I think we have to tone down the bashing, the conspiracies, finger pointing and all of us (you guys are probably all coaches just like me)concentrate on guiding and teaching our player to step it up when its thier turn.

  22. John Soares, June 10, 2011 at 5:20 p.m.

    Great article...and it's about time!
    Rantin Ric has one argument, repeated daily. Bradleys bad... Blah, Blah, Blah...
    Torres good/Bias against Latinos... Blah, Blah, Blah... Wait for it, you'll read again tomorrow. Regardless of who is on the field or how the team plays.

  23. Christian Navarro, June 10, 2011 at 7:03 p.m.

    Sacha Kljestan num 10? Better than jft? Seriously? Mr. Turnover should have been dumped long ago.

  24. Kevin Leahy, June 10, 2011 at 11:15 p.m.

    I think James was right on with his view. I believe Michael Bradley belongs in the starting 11 but, not as the playmaker. I am tired of hearing about how much time you get with your club should be tied to the national team. That always seems to depend on who you are, in the coaches eyes. Freddy Adu was our only compelling olympic player but, he does not seem to fit. You have to wonder abour all these players that, are good enough to play in Mexico and not worthy of our national team. Whether real or imagined, our player selection tells them they are not welcomed! After the last 20 years, I would have liked to see us further along. Everyone having a good first touch would be a start.

  25. Luis Arreola, June 11, 2011 at 1:26 a.m.

    Here is a wager for anybody interested. The day the USA team selects a majority of Hispanic players on it's squad it will have to play real soccer and then make some real headlines by winning against some quality teams. Otherwise you will always be stuck talking about dumb s--t like BBB and the kkid. Hispanics are better soccer players.Not a mystery. Embrace it like you had to embrace African Americans being better at BBall. Keep the dream alive.

  26. Joe Bailey, June 11, 2011 at 1:24 p.m.

    After reading most of the stuff here I realize I'm in agreement with Ridge. Yeah BB frustrates me by not giving Jose Torres more chances, but only Clint Dempsey & Brian McBride, Cherundolo & maybe John O'Brien have done better as American born players in a top-Euro League than Michael Bradley. Also, Aren't Johnathan Bornstein, Carlos Bocanegra, Benny Feilhaber, Juan Agudelo, Omar Gonzalez (who got a couple of caps) among others players of Hispanic/Latin American Heritage? Aren't Landon Donavan, Steve Cherundolo, Jose Torres (who Started in a world Cup game), Feilhaber, Adu, Holden, Davies among others under 6ft tall? probably under 5'10"? I don't defend Bob Bradley as much as I used to but some of the criticisms are getting ridiculous...

    And as for Jozy's goal. What did these guys have to say about Dempsey's goal against England???

  27. Bill Anderson, June 11, 2011 at 5:29 p.m.

    Bob Jr. is NEVER going to be an attacking center mid. Any system Bob Sr. devises is only to cover up for his lack of attacking ability.

  28. Stan Nixon, June 11, 2011 at 10:50 p.m.

    Okay. I am ready to hear the what USSF has Ridge say now that we have lost to Panama. The biggest problem with the USMNT at the moment is coaching. He had on bright spot - the 2009 Confederations Cup - where he showed the team could improve and contend. Since then, it has been a slide downward, and this is a real low. It is the coaches job to prepare his team to be successful. That goes for reinforcing the basics of trapping, passing, tackling, and shooting. He is also responsible for having his team mentally and emotionally ready. It looked like the players were expecting to just roll over Panama or expecting Panama to get out of their way. The coach is also responsible for player selection and incorporating tactics to fit that selection. The USWNT has shown that being the most athletic only goes so far. Eventually, like every other sport, those with the most technical skilled athletes will win. If the USSF wants soccer to grow in the United States, it has to put a winning team out on the field. We need to beat the teams that we should and be dynamic enough to be competitive with the top teams in the world. The history of National Team coaches bear out that second term coaches don't do as well as their first term. One more bad outing and we may not even make it out of the group stage for this tournament. If that happens, then we do not have to worry about how we will do at the Confederations Cup in 2013 because we will not be there.

  29. Philippe Fontanelli, June 12, 2011 at 10:44 a.m.

    By the very fact that Mahoney says there is no conspiracy he admits that there is.
    Otherwise why on earth he'd bring it up?
    Just the way he wrote about the exact way he descibed that there is!
    Is Mahoney trying to be the defense Lawyer for the Bradley's?
    While Junior is an OK player he is no number 10! That spot should be occupied by Donovan behind the the two attackers as the third striker (Donovan's best position and and an ideal format to attack. But you have to fit in Junior. Need I say more?

  30. David Huff, June 13, 2011 at 1:47 p.m.

    The Team Bradley approach is a disgrace no matter how it is sugar-coated. Ignoring players like Buddle, Castiilo, Gomes and Edu in favor of Clark, Findley and Jr. says it all.

  31. Jared Bartlam, June 13, 2011 at 11:30 p.m.

    I caught this article while looking up other soccer articles concerning the Gold Cup. I see some pretty crazy accusations and theories on the comments section so I couldn't help put my two cents in. I can't see where Hispanics are disappointed that they are not represented that well on the national stage. Bocanegra, Feilhaber, Bornstein, and Agudelo. The only people that are left out regularly are JFT and Castillo and those are the only two that I really know of as far as Hispanic-Americans that could compete on the national stage. I do think that both should be given more time. I have wondered why Castillo hasn't gotten more time given the need at left back. I always have been a fan of JFT and I think that he should be in this Gold Cup squad. On that note, with everyone 100% healthy I think Bradley is still in the starting 11. I think he is the best option we have right now at the DEFENSIVE MID spot. The 10 spot is Stu Holden's hands down. Altidore is too lazy so the option is to move up Dempsey to the holding striker right behind Agudelo. Right now at the Gold Cup should be IMO 4-5-1 Agudelo-S
    Bedoya-LM Dempsey AM Donovan RM jones and Bradley DM Lichaj LB Boca,Goodson-CBs Dolo-RB. As far as Bradley goes, I have been calling for his head for a while now. The Nats will be stagnate with him at the helm, I think we need to look outside of the US to take the team to the next level. I also am glad that they have Reyna trying to change the youth systems. A lot of players have fell out of the wayside due to the stifling of creativity. As far as someone saying that Hispanics are just better the same way African Americans are better at BB is just ludicrous. Maybe in certain individual statements but that would be all.

  32. Luis Arreola, June 14, 2011 at 2:15 p.m.

    Jared, Really? If you go to any youth or men's league the better teams and most creative players and the majority are Latino as a whole. That's a fact. If you go to a BBall court anywhere in the USA the best most Athletic players and creative are black. That's a fact. In the USA minorities have always had a hard time making these points because of racism. Just hit the USA sports history books Basketball and Baseball. Right now the USA good old boys want to hang on to soccer but eventually will give in for obvious reasons- Better players, Better teams, More interest, more $$. Are these not facts brother ?? If you say it's ludicrous you would have to prove. The only reason there is not much to choose from is because Latino's are not given the realistic opportunity State Wide and if they are they still don't have the money to pay for ODP or Academies. Facts

  33. Jared Bartlam, June 14, 2011 at 10:58 p.m.

    Really? No. In our men's league outdoor and indoor teams, the all latino team is second in both. The number one team, the Booters, are made up of one guy from Senegal, Kenya, and Ghana, one Latino, and the rest Caucasians which one English dude, and Irish kid, and the rest from southern GA. I will say that the Latino team has more creative players (even though the Kenyan kid is pretty sick) but that doesn't always equal a better team or even better player. IE I would take Steven Gerrard over Robinho even though Robinho is way more creative, Stevie G is a much better soccer player. Never argued that blacks are better at Bball obviously they are just watch NBA. I will agree with you on the last point has I coach HS soccer and I have a Latino on the team that is one of the two best players that have come through the school in the past 5-7 years. But I will not ever agree with that Latinos are just better soccer players. Not a fact. Period. Thats to general of a statement anyway. If you said Argentinians or Brazilians then that would be more of a better agrument on your part. Even then, there is only one player on this side of the Atlantic that I would pick over someone like Stevie G or Gareth Bale and that would be Messi, obviously. Just like I said, more creative players don't always make the better player.

  34. Luis Arreola, June 15, 2011 at 10:16 a.m.

    You just made my case. you're only are you meant is your mens team in your mens league? if you went around the rest of leagues you can tell me that the majority of better players are in hispanic? brazilians are the most creative players in the world. Mexicans are not as good as brazillians. Caucasians in the usa are not as good as mexicans. I am talking about a majority not 1 mens league. Look at the MLS. The top teams have more of the better creative hispanic players. Brazilians are hispanics. The best players in the world are more times than none hispanic. Pele,Maradkna,Messi,etc. what was the case being made back when blacks were not permitted to play basketball? the problem is we have too many coaches with your mentality in the u sa. you're a high school coach that's can't admit that the better players in the usa are hispanic.

  35. Luis Arreola, June 15, 2011 at 11:18 a.m.

    The best team and players in the world is Brazil. They might not win every time but they are always favorites. Just like Mexico is always favorite in Concacaf.What makes Mexico the best in Concacaf?? They are the most creative players in Concacaf. What makes Brazil the best ??
    Creativity. Brazil is in the business of making players not winninig at the youth level to market their youth programs and their coaching. USA is all about power and size to win even at the youth level.
    Jared, You're team is mostly non USA when it comes to the best of them. Point made. Latinos being better in USA is an easy fact. The top soccer states at the youth level are California, Illinois and Texas. Why do you think ?? What do these states have in common ?? Come on dude. The sooner USA caucasians embrace these facts the better off they will be in learning from Latinos just like they do with the Black community. Creative players not always are the best,maybe, but most of the time they are. This side of the Atlantic?? South America/Conmebol had the best showing of all the others in World Cup. Jordan-Bball. Messi,Pele,Maradona, Ronahldino. Xavi and Nani are better more Dynamic players than the 2 you mentioned.

  36. Jared Bartlam, June 15, 2011 at 10:41 p.m.

    Poor me....ha. First off, to try and say that I am apart of the "good ole boys" club is so far from the truth it's not even funny. Just because I don't agree with you, I'm close-minded, racist, is that what you are trying to say? Where I live, there is not a ton of Latinos, as we had 45 kids try out for the HS team and maybe 5 Latinos came out of which 3 made the team. I play the best 11 no matter what race they are, because as my AD told me, my job is to win. The school has had a soccer program since 1998 and I took the job after I graduated college. In the two years, we went from two win seasons to eight and nine win seasons. We made the state playoffs for the 1st time since the program started. Half of our region games are against teams that are ranked in the top 15 overall in the state plus have played quite a few kids that are in the U-19 and u-17 national team squad. I think I am far from what is the problem in the soccer scene, the reason being I play the best players available no matter who knows who. I'll stop the rant but I hate when ppl who know absolutely nothing about me personally tries to knock me.

  37. Jared Bartlam, June 15, 2011 at 11:44 p.m.

    As far as the rest of this debate, I still disagree with the broad statement of hispanic players being better. It's kind of hard to debate with you because you keep changing up your agrument. First it was hispanic players are better period then its hispanic players are better than caucasian americans. First off, I would like to point out that Brazilians and Portuguese are not counted as Hispanics or Latinos. That really only leaves Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, and Mexico as being the only top Hispanic or Latino teams. Nor did I have say that because my league is like that, does it mean its like that as a whole. You said go to ANY league, and I was just pointing out that is not the case, and I also find it funny that you think that my team is first only because of the foreign guys even though you know nothing about the team. That says a lot in itself. Brazil is always picked as favorites by the MEDIA, anyone that actually watchs soccer knows that they get through group state easily then once they hit the other top teams that are good on both sides of the field they tend to fall apart. Since when has Mexico been the favorite in the Concacaf?....maybe the 90s. The only Hispanic or Latino team that can continually stay on top would be Spain because they are great attacking and defending. The same cannot be said for Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, and the rest as for the most part they don't have the goalkeeping or the defense to beat the best teams, IE Germany, Holland, England, Italy. All I'm trying to say is that the statement is too generalized, if you put a top squad of 35 or so players in the world, the only Hispanic or Latino players would be from Spain.

  38. Jared Bartlam, June 16, 2011 at 11:35 a.m.

    And Messi.

  39. David Huff, June 16, 2011 at 12:37 p.m.

    Jared, my "Latin" definition also includes France and Portugal based on both their culture and style of play, they have produced excellent players. I think you do a disservice to Argentina and Mexico, in the last WC 2010 both teams were hobbled by the fact that although they had an excellent player pool with creative highly technical talent they had the misfortune of having two of the most incompentent coaches in Maradona and Javier Aguirre (a problem that France with Domenech and the US with Bradley also had). Vela, Dos Santos, Javier Hernandez and Ochoa to name a few are world class.

  40. Luis Arreola, June 16, 2011 at 1:12 p.m.

    Jared, I sure hope you are not a H.S. teacher as well. As our friend David here states Latino derives from the word Latin. So instead of saying Hispanic let's say Latino for you're sake. My only point was that here in the states Latinos are in fact better players than Caucasians if you look at the majority of soccer players here. Did you not see the World Cup, soccer coach ?? Chile and Paraguay were there as well. Colombia has always been a great contender. Venezuela,Ecuador, Peru,etc. . Brazil has won more World Cups than any other country. For Spain this is the first. England and Italy did not do so well. Italy also speaks Latin. Easy group play ?? There is perhaps no other place to qualify for World Cup harder than Conmebol/South America. USA lost or tied to Venezuela not too long ago and they did not even qualify for W.C. I sure hope you're boss is not reading this. You know nothing about soccer. The best teams in the world are filled with Latinos from South America and Central America. Do you even know 35 Top World Players ?? Why would you even argue my point if there is a low number of Latinos in you're city ?? So if 3 out of 5 of the Latinos made you're team wouldnt' it be logical to state that had let's say 20 showed up there is a good possability you would have a majority of Latinos on you're team ?? Do you still choose to ignore who the top soccer states are?? I dont think you're racist but I do think you are unrealistic when it comes to you're ethnicity. I think that hurts the overall soccer culture in this country. You are simply a small contributor. There is nothing wrong with rooting for you're skin color but if you truly want to see them improve you must be willing to learn from the Latinos. You should look up defenitions of Latinos first so you can determine who you will critisize or learn from. Then look into The Top Soccer States-Texas,Illinois,California- where the vast majority of soccer players are Latino. Go see how many countries are in South America. Then make an intelligent argument. The internet is a very informative place, brother.

  41. Jared Bartlam, June 16, 2011 at 3:44 p.m.

    Well, it looks like you are set in your ways so really this is rather pointless. Yes, I am a HS teacher and I'm very good at my job. No, I'm not a history or geography teacher but I do know what I'm talking about. The problem is that you keep interchanging Latino and Hispanic but as they are two different meanings it's kind of difficult to debate. Etmologically speaking, yes, the word Latino derives from Latin which includes occidental cultures such as Italians, French, and Portuguese. The majority of people today, say about 95%, when they say Latino, they are not referring to the literal translation, they are referring to Mexico and south from there. Also seeing as you said Hispanics first which was what my agrument was about, and Hispanics means Spain,Mexico, and south from there except Brazil. Yes, I watched every game of the World Cup and any other games I can. Again, your agrument was that Hispanics are the best players or team. I know that they have good quality teams but best no. Outside Spain most of them have great attacking players but lack world class players in the back to put them up there with the best teams in the world. I'm not ignoring anything but I was making one point because you said EVERYWHERE, and I was pointing out that wasn't correct. Yes, there are probably other counties or states where the Hispanic teams are top but I was just refuting your overall statement. Thats it. Trust me, my agruments are quite intelligent and informed, not that I can say the same for everyone else. Nor do I think that any US caucasian has to learn from Latinos to improve. I think anyone can become a world class player if they have the right mentality, mental toughness, work ethic, and athletic ability.

  42. Luis Arreola, June 16, 2011 at 4:57 p.m.

    I did mean south of the border including Brazil and Paraguay and did generalize them with the Hispanic name. Whatever. Point is Brazil is always top 10 along with Argentina and now with Uruguay and Spain. That's40% Latino 30% Hispanic, teacher. What I said was the majority of top players in the USA are Hispanic.Georgia is not a top soccer state. The 3 states I told you are. That's usually where the best Caucasians come from because thy compete vs the best. Usually. This number should translate at the national competition level for USA. Sorry you can't admit to that. You're loss.
    You are trying to make this an argument with meaningless BS about Hispanic, Latino instead of talking about facts. Argentina has some of the best defenders in the world. Mexico has many more players in Europe than USA. Argentina is 2nd only to Brazil in the world in players going pro in Europe. You need to look up facts .

  43. Jared Bartlam, June 16, 2011 at 5:49 p.m.

    At least you admit to your generalization, I will give you Brazil, Argentina, and Spain as top squads in world but I wouldn't list Uruguay just yet as they haven't done much in the past twenty years outside of the World Cup showing in 2010. What you said was that Hispanic players are the best, period. I was just disagreeing with that statement, not need in trying to lynch mob me for having a different opinion than you. I never said that Georgia was a top soccer state, I don't know what I'm not admitting to so I don't know what I'm losing. I think you are agruing with yourself at this point. Argentina has good defenders not any of them are close to being the best in the world. Mexico probably has more players in Europe than US but it's not translating on the field when it comes to Concacaf so congrats on that. Of course Brazil and Argentina have the most players in Europe from this side of the Atlantic, don't think anyone would argue there. I think you might need to rethink what you call facts because some of what you say are opinions.

  44. Luis Arreola, June 17, 2011 at 12:15 a.m.

    Not this side of the Atlantic. The world. Uruguay is in top 10 now. Made it to semis in world cup. You don't have to give me anything. Facts are facts.Chile, Uruguay,aParaguay,Brazil, Argentina all made it to top 16. 4 of them top 8. Top USA soccer states-Hispanic top talent.Facts. I base my opinions on fa TS. What do you base them on? Who is Latino and who is Hispanic? My Georgia league? You lose.

  45. Jared Bartlam, June 17, 2011 at 10:28 a.m.

    Well, I'm not sure where you get your facts from because I've tried looking up your claim of Brazil and Argentina having the most players in the European leagues. I can't find anything, but it seems that English, or Italian, or Spanish players would have the most seeing that a few of them have the home grown rules. I did find one website from Brazil, , that 1,776 playing overseas only 762 when to Europe. That doesn't sound like they have more than the Big 3 in Europe. Facts are facts. That's convenient, Uruguay had a good showing in this World Cup but has done nothing in the recent past but all of a sudden they are a top team. What to know whats funny, had this been in 2002 when the US jumped up to 4th. I know there would be NO WAY that you would admit that they were a Top 5 team. Paraguay is ranked 22. I haven't lost anything, it's much of the other case. You said that if YOU GO TO ANY LEAGUE ANYWHERE

  46. Jared Bartlam, June 17, 2011 at 10:30 a.m.

    That the Hispanic teams would be the best, I just proved you wrong. I didn't say anything else about all over the US. You said that Hispanics are just better soccer players, I said that's an opinion, they may be more creative on the ball but that doesn't make for a overall better soccer player. I don't lose. Ha

  47. Luis Arreola, June 17, 2011 at 12:56 p.m.

    Again, It's an opinion based on facts_Top Soccer States- look it up. What's you're opinion based on?? You have to win something to justify you're ranking. Uruguay did just that, as well as Brazil-5 World Cups and Argentina 2 World Cups. USA doesn't even deserve their 22 rank losing to Panama. Paraguay had a strong showing in W.C. and USA looked bad vs them. Mexico beat them.

  48. Luis Arreola, June 17, 2011 at 3:11 p.m.

    I said majority of leagues in USA. Barcelona vs Manchester. Hmmm. Did the more tecnical team win?? I think they did. To be a good soccer player you need to be great tecnically and creative. Being physical,faster or stronger does not make you even a good soccer player. Same in BBall. If you're big and strong you are needed for the dirty work but to win you need skilled players. You do more with skill than with brawn. Another fact. It's easier to get a quality soccer player from someone that is already great tecnically and creative by training the physical part. Not as easy other way around.

  49. Jared Bartlam, June 17, 2011 at 10:38 p.m.

    I never said anything about the top soccer states so I don't know why you keep bringing that up. I know that Brazil and Argentina are great teams, as I said that. But going off what you are saying, will you admit that the US was a top 4 team in 2002-2003? Transitive theory in sports, got to love I would say Howard did not play in the Paraguay game but I like how you don't mention the ties versus Chile and Argentina.

  50. Jared Bartlam, June 17, 2011 at 10:59 p.m.

    "If you go to any youth or men's league the better teams and most creative players and the majority are Latino as a whole." I love how you pick out one game that shows a more creative team wins, and thats suppose to be the final say. Germany has won three World Cups and everyone knows that they are not the most creative team but usually the more physical and disciplined team. You can't train physicality, trust me, I've tried. A lot of kids today have been playing too much xbox or ps and are a bunch of pansies. IMO, I think both sides of the spectrum are gifts. Some ppl are just gifted creatively and some are just gifted phyically. You can work on both to a certain extent, but the great players are usually gifted with both like Cantona, Pele, and Maradona had the technical ability with either the strength to shrug off defenders or the speed to blow by them. Ronaldo is another nowaday player that has it even though I hate to admit it cuz I don't like him as a player cuz he falls to the ground if someone blows on him instead of using his gifts and staying on his feet.

  51. Luis Arreola, June 18, 2011 at 12:37 a.m.

    yOU CAN'T TRAIN PHYSICALITY? Really? I am a coach too and oh yes you can. You have to break em first and lay into them pretty hard. Messi was given hormones at age 13 to stimulate his growth. I agree with Ronaldo comment. Germany did win 3 and is pretty good but the results for the best are with Brazil. Germany, Holland are always contenders, no doubt but Brazil is king right now just like Mexico is king in Concacaf. Results. I'm just saying if the more tecnical players/countries are holding the most trophies then that means that's the way to go until proven otherwise. I bring up the states cause I meant the best players/teams as a majority in the USA. You keep saying my league/team. Ok you win in you're league. What do you think it is overall? If the 3 best states at soccer are majority Hispanic isn't it safe to say we dominate the sport??

  52. Jared Bartlam, June 18, 2011 at 9 a.m.

    Maybe you can coach physicality, just not where I'm at because of the parents emailing the principal and AD if you run them for more than a few hours or do any drills that cause them to strain themselves, they are lazy and complain because thats the way they are raised. Maybe other coaches are more lucky than I and have more leeway. messi was given hormones for a disease he had and it didn't help much as he is 5'4 and like 130 pounds,, his speed and touch on the ball makes him great. I don't really agree with Brazil being king now cuz they haven't won on the big stage in a while, maybe traditionally, but Spain is king now, the same with the concacaf, Mexico traditionally, but US is king for the past 10 years. As far as bring dominate in the US, maybe in quantity but look at the top players on the national stage, our three best players Dempsey, Holden, and Donovan. I think we are heading in the right direction though as a whole.

  53. Jared Bartlam, June 18, 2011 at 9:23 a.m.

    You should be happy with the U17 World Cup squad as there is a good deal of Hispanic Americans

  54. Jared Bartlam, June 18, 2011 at 11:26 a.m.

    Or you probably don't care cuz from your comments on other articles it looks like you are a Mexico fan not USNMT. Which explains a lot.

  55. Kent James, June 18, 2011 at 2:38 p.m.

    Jared and Luis, can't we get all just get along? I think we should move beyond stereotypes like "Hispanics are better soccer players". Making the USMNT all Hispanic would not make it a better team. On the other hand, as the Hispanic influence in the US grows, it is certainly appropriate that the Hispanic presence on the USMNT grow, and probably at a higher rate then their influence generally since soccer has a much more prominent place in Hispanic culture than it does in the overall US culture. But that doesn't mean Hispanics are always better players than Anglos. In my area (Pittsburgh), the open league I play on in the winter has one Hispanic (Mexican) team and about 11 other teams, and the Hispanic team is one of the weaker teams. They have some creative players, but their defense is completely disorganized so they give up a lot of soft goals (I think this was Jared's point). Of course, we picked up their best player so he'll play in the spring and fall leagues with us (we appreciate talent of whatever ethnicity!). The team I play on is a mix of ethnicities; about half are US born & bred, the others hail from all over (Europe, Latin America, Caribbean), and I think the mix makes us a better team. Yes, there are tendencies within soccer cultures; Hispanic culture emphasizes skill on the ball, Northern European culture emphasizes speed and organization. Each culture has had its success. I'm glad that Barcelona and Spain are demonstrating the ability of technically good (but physically small) teams to win; for a long time, this was not thought possible (they may look good, but they can't win). And sadly, even Brazil (under Dunga) went down the path of physically strong and well-organized with less creativity (thankfully, that is changing back). I think the article is making the point that Bob Bradley is not anti-Hispanic. BB is trying to field the best national team he can. I think it is fair to say that BB is more cautious than he is creative, in that he puts out a team that he thinks will be well-organized and disciplined (and therefore hard to beat), and then he thinks about trying to score goals (and he probably prefers speed to creativity (Rogers instead of Adu,e.g.), which is another fair criticism. But particularly against stronger opponents (like Spain), it's not stupid to be a bit cautious, recognizing that if you're not careful, they have the talent to hammer you.

  56. Kent James, June 18, 2011 at 2:39 p.m.

    Bradley's caution may make it harder for Hispanic players to fit in (since they tend to be on the more creative side), but BB is not stupid, and he does not "know nothing about soccer". I would like to see him use Torres as an offensive center midfielder (creative player), with Michael Bradley being the holding midfielder. But I doubt even playing Torres would not have changed the result against Panama; he's not yet the kind of player who can change a game at that level. While BB, like most coaches, focuses on things he can control (organization) more than those he can't (creativity), I think he does respect creative players. Players like Dempsey, Donovan, Holden and Feilhaber are used regularly, and he even brought in Adu (a bit of a risk, since finally earning starting time in the Turkish 2nd division is not exactly tearing it up). I've always liked Adu, and hope he succeeds and would like to see him get some playing time, but at least he's back in the picture. I guess the bottom line is that while it is fine to disagree about who should be playing for the USMNT, which players are better, styles of play, etc., our debates should inspire us think about the game from a different perspective, rather than scoring the best put downs of our opponent (or his point of view). I'm hoping that the USMNT can bring in the creativity of the Latin players, and combine that with the speed and organization of the Northern Europeans to create a team that is both entertaining and successful.

  57. Luis Arreola, June 18, 2011 at 5:02 p.m.

    Jared, Spain is the champ right now. But overall history of soccer how can you not say Brazil is the most dominate. Most world cup wins, allways make it far in tournaments,always top 10 in ranksl,etc. USA had a good run but are returning to their old form. Overall Mexico has been the most dominant. Gold Cup should prove it as well as U20s not making it past Guatemala. I would like to see USA do better as this is where my kids play but I do feel Hispanics are not given a fair chance to make it nationally in the USA. Like my friend James said the large number of Hispanics should reflect on the state and national stage especially if we are as a majority more passionate for soccer. That's a fact.

  58. Luis Arreola, June 18, 2011 at 5:17 p.m.

    Well said James. The more creative you play or more players on field are creative the more you risk on defense. But people pay to see creativity and not defense. The. Perfect player is physical and creativin my opinion. That's what I'm working on with my Hispanic players for zero excuses. From state national coaches. I LLC let you know if it worked..

  59. Luis Arreola, June 18, 2011 at 5:26 p.m.

    I also coach Bball and I want 10 point guards on a team and that's how I coach. I see too many kids being told you're a center or a power forward and they will never even be 6'4". Why? To win. Not realistic. Soccer is same to me. My son to his day is the best U12 goalie in aIllinois. I took up coaching when he was U9 because his coaches would not play him on the field. He's a natural, they said. He wanted to play on the field. Now he is ap forward. In Illinois.

  60. Luis Arreola, June 18, 2011 at 5:33 p.m.

    Funny thing is he is still wanted as a top goalie on any AcDemy team in Il. No goalie training. Just a lot of physical and skill training and asmany games as he wants. You have to be an athlete to be a top goalie not $1000's of goalie training.. I want a team of midfielders. All know how to defend and attack pass hold a ball, etc. That's how I coach.

  61. Joe Shoulders, June 19, 2011 at 3:18 p.m.

    This article is complete nonsense. Clearly BB has a problem with players that do not fit into his narrow-minded view of the game. MB has been given every advantage and remains extremely ordinary. Torres given the same chances would show very quickly that he is head and shoulders above Michael Bradley.

    I'm tired of every SA writher besides Gardner acting as Bradley's PR firm. It's like SA is the FoxNews of soccer reporting.

    OK, I take that back, because unlike FOX you do have an intelligent opinion from the other side on staff.

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