Bob Bradley: The highs and lows

[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 …

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.

12 comments about "Bob Bradley: The highs and lows".
  1. Ernest Irelan, July 29, 2011 at 8:37 a.m.

    the stats of 5 straight lows are disheartening to be sure. from the outside, it would appear that scouting for new talent certainly needs to be looked at. The coach only can do what he has to work with..certainly, a change is in order, players?? or coach??..maybe both??...I certainly can not be the judge of that, just hope that we get it turned around soon...after watching Barca play the other day in Audi cup..this is what i see as great soccer, how I want the USA to play that game. I know we can rise to this level, we just need to work at it, set up the goal, find committed players an coaching staff to develope it..the best players are not always the rich boys that have been able to afford all the club training, travel, etc...get the scouts out...beat the bushes, find them...I am sure they are there.

  2. Andrew Post, July 29, 2011 at 9:25 a.m.

    OH HAPPY DAY! I am over joyed about the dismissal of BB. I have waited for this for more than 3 years now. Unfortunately, like i said then, it would come at a time when the USMNT was at a ten year low.
    You can not pin this on the players. This must come from the top down. The USMNT has more talent then every before. More players playing in other countries and for big clubs.
    In the next 2 years, and depending on who is hired for the job, the USMNT will progress to higher levels then BB could even dream.
    It is time for what we all have been waiting for....a coach that can take us to the next level.
    I just wish this would have come 3 years ago/

  3. Luis Arreola, July 29, 2011 at 9:26 a.m.

    The best players are almost never the rich. If you want to redo the coaching and selection staff make them accountable. Also change laws so players are legally bonded to a club at early ages. This way if they are recruited by bigger clubs it will cost them money. If this happens these big clubs will have to develop the player they have invested in. The small club will concentrate even more on developing to make money and reinvest in equipment. Everybody wins here. This is what is done in other countries like Mexico. USA has more youth playing than any other country in the world. This is the only thing missing. Its not rocket science people.

  4. Mike Gaynes, July 29, 2011 at 11:05 a.m.

    Bradley was never qualified to be an international coach. He lacked tactical imagination and his judgment of talent was appalling -- the man who put Sunday league players like Bornstein and Findlay on the field for the World Cup was hopelessly out of his depth. The one player decision he was most criticized for, however -- the inclusion of his son -- was correct. Michael was the USA's best at defensive midfield until Jermaine Jones came along, and he deserved to play. Period. The biggest problem for the USA now is that the new coach will be chosen by the same dogmatic, unimaginative and relentlessly territorial poobah who kept Bradley in his job long after his sell-by date. In my opinion, Sunil Gulati and his cadre will never surrender control of our development program to an outsider, and that control is what a new coach will need most. Unless Klinsmann, Benitez, Lippi or whoever else is considered for the job has carte blanche to change the system, nothing will improve very much. Gulati shares Bradley's greatest failing -- the inability to hand the ball to a gifted newcomer and tell him to get creative and run the game.

  5. John Foust, July 29, 2011 at 12:32 p.m.

    Rick, I agree wholeheartedly that Gulati is the problem. But with Klinsman just named, we have a chance to really move forward. An excellent start, but we'll see how his past demands were (or were not) addressed concerning various issues ...

  6. Henry Garcia, July 29, 2011 at 12:56 p.m.

    It's time for changes. MNT, WNT, and youth teams. I nominate Steve Hoffman (CalSouth Technical Director) for any of these positions. Definitely qualified. C'mon Mr. Gulati what are we waiting for?

  7. cony konstin, July 29, 2011 at 6:47 p.m.

    The hiring of klinsmann is not going to make a difference. He was a talented player and he is a good coach. But my friends players win championships and not coaches. We should have kept Bradley or get another US coach on the cheap while saving the money on Klinsmann so we can start a Soccer Revolution in the US. You will see nothing is going to change. Now if klinsmann goes into the inner cities of the US to start creating soccer in the HOOD then maybe it is worth seeing if he is going to make an impact but I doubt it. We need to create a NEW SPARTA. Until then it doesn't matter who the national coach is or isn't.

  8. Robin Embry, July 29, 2011 at 8:57 p.m.

    Hey Cony:

    I hope all is going well up in Oregon. Until we see an Adrian Peterson (or as you used to say Russell
    White when your were at Cal) type athlete in a MNT kit, the US prospects internationally are quite limited.

  9. cony konstin, July 29, 2011 at 9:03 p.m.

    Hi Robin

    I am still living in Oregon. I am currently at the Tahuichi Soccer Academy in Bolivia. When you get a chance check out our website How are you doing? Guys like Russell and Adrian will one day play for our USA.

  10. Robin Embry, July 29, 2011 at 9:16 p.m.

    Cony, I agree, it will take some time. I am up working at Chico State and my 12 year old girl is playing soccer for Butte United Soccer Club and volleyball for Canyon Volleyball club. I will check out the Tahuichi and see if she can one day go for a camp.

  11. cony konstin, July 29, 2011 at 9:28 p.m.

    12 year old girl. Damn the years are flying. My phone number is on the site. Call me.

  12. Mj Lee, August 2, 2011 at 3:32 p.m.

    Coaches Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley seemed to think that playing the USMNT in a 4-5-1 was an indicator of tactical genius. They both deserved to be fired. If Jurgen can cultivate a USA mentality that OFFENSE wins championships, then he will at least get us closer to playing the beautiful game.

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