July 30, 2014

What Should Bob Bradley’s Future Be?

Over the weekend, the United States was eliminated by Ghana from the World Cup.  It is always sad to lose, but when we look back on this experience later, I think most of us will appreciate how well the United States did.  They won their group despite some suspect officiating.  They scored a gift of a goal against England in the opener for a fortunate tie.  They should have won the second game against Slovenia if not for a disallowed goal that eventually saw the referee’s dismissal from further World Cup action.  Then they overcame another disallowed goal in beating Algeria to take the group over England.  It showed a lot of heart.  Finally, the United States was not able to beat Ghana on Saturday.  The United States survived another early goal to tie it up and take it into extra time, but the journey ended there.

It was a great showing, but there were definitely some questionable decisions by coach Bob Bradley in the deciding match.  The man who almost single-handedly gave up the early goal, Ricardo Clark, was a controversial choice as starter.  Clark then compounded matters by getting a yellow card and was subsequently replaced at a very early 30 minute mark in the first half.  That used up one of the United States three allowed substitutions with a whole lot of time left on the clock.  Seeing as how the match went into extra time, it was even more.  Now, I can’t blame the loss on the coach.  At the same time, it left many wondering what the future of Bob Bradley should be with the next World Cup heading to Brazil in 2014.

I got an email from WFNY reader CBoyes1987.

What do you think of the coaching situation? I was talking with one of my co-workers yesterday and we agreed on one thing from yesterday–Bob Bradley should not be coaching the US at the next World Cup.

I like what Bradley has done for US Soccer. He has brought us from the middle of North America (albeit a small confederation) to competing with only 1 nation (Mexico) for the Gold Cup. On the world stage he led the team to victory over Spain in the Confederations Cup and also to an early lead against Brazil which could have led to the first major tournament win for the US. That is all great! The performance in the World Cup this year was impressive and I don’t fault Bradley for many of the errors but there is something left to be desired. Not from the coaching or from the heart of the players but from the stature these players hold themselves to. Right now, I am watching Argentina dismantle Mexico. Argentina plays with the stature of a world class team – Mexico does not. Even in defeat, Italy looked like a world class team these past two weeks. I don’t see Bob Bradley taking the USMNT to that stature. He is a great coach and I don’t think anything in the past two weeks deserves his firing but that is not the only question to be asked of him. The more important question, as stated by Alexi Lalas is: Can Bob Bradley take the US further than they went this World Cup?

It is an interesting point.  It is kind of similar to the way the Cavaliers were feeling this off-season with Mike Brown.  Mike Brown did a great job in developing the defense in Cleveland.  He got along with his players until this year when he had well-known issues with Ilgauskas and then rumored problems toward the end of the playoff run.  The prevailing thought by most was that Mike Brown had maxed out and wasn’t the guy to take the Cavaliers to the next level.  We know Dan Gilbert, at least, thought that.

Similar questions prevail for the USMNT.  Bob Bradley should be commended for the things he has done with the team.  At the same time, it needs to be decided whether Bradley is the coach of the future as we look toward 2014.  Based on my experiences with the Cavs / Izzo / and the currently vacant head coaching position, I just think the United States must have their replacement before they move on from Bradley.  And even that is an “if.”  I think  there are arguments to be made to bring Bradley back.

We will see how it plays out. If Denny has anything to say about it, he would hire Jurgen Klinsmann on the spot after his rant about the state of US Soccer following the game versus Ghana.

  • JK

    Jur-Gen Klinsman.. clap, clap, clapclapclap

  • http://twitter.com/kevinhignett Kevin Hignett

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m with Denny. Klinsmann would be the best upgrade. Otherwise, there’s not much reason to replace Bradley. He made some boneheaded choices for his lineups, but the talent level is still lacking as well. Over the next 4 years, many of these guys will retire from USA duty and hopefully be replaced with more talented players coming up through the system now. Perhaps Bradley does a better job with better talent?

    But I wouldn’t be upset with a move to Klinsmann, assuming he agrees to it.

  • Pale Dragon

    Sigi Schmid (Seattle coach, won the title with Columbus) would be another good option.

  • AMC

    Completely agree w/ Kevin @2

  • JK

    A couple of points:

    - Although, that turnover was awful. Howard could have (should have?) made the save. It was Clark’s fault but I dont think he “single handily” allowed the 1st goal. Edu was poor when he came in as well.

    - It’s not Bob Bradley’s fault one of our best strikers was hurt in a car accident (Davies) and one of our best defensemen got hurt in a qualifying match (Guch). He was forced to start a back line for the first time in a WC game, not good, I dont care what country you’re from.

    - Mexico got the screws put to them by Argentina. Absolutly pathetic on FIFAs part. I dont see this “swagger” you speak of. Italy looked like a buncha of babies (even though I support the Azzuri) as they got bounced without a whimper. What about France? They are supposedly “world class” and they looked like a bunch of bums. I think this swagger you speak of is imaginary.

    Verdict: Klinsmann over Bradley, Bradley over anyone else.

  • LebRon Burgundy

    While I agree with most of what has been said, the line “Even in defeat, Italy looked like a world class team these past two weeks.” caused me to do a double take. I’d respectfully have to disagree.

  • subadai

    Bradley’s future:

    Golf. Lot’s of golf.

  • ben

    we’ve got roughly 4 years to figure it out, right?
    no rush.

  • dwhit

    As my Facebook status said Saturday night “Ok, back to not caring about soccer for 4 years.”

  • Rich

    Big difference between Mike Brown and Bob Bradley: talent-level. I wanted to scream at the TV listening to Lawlis and Klinsmen talk about this and that, when the fact is this side doesn’t have the talent to even consider winning a world cup. Mike Brown did have the talent.

    Bob Bradley can’t make the best athletes in the US play soccer. He worked with what he had, and fans thinking this team should look better than they do are dreaming. There is a reason Argentina plays with swagger, and it isn’t because of Diego Maradona. It’s because they have the best attacking front in the world. They have better players. WHen you are more talented, you have more swagger. That simply. The team made it as far as they should have based on talent level. They are not a top 8 side in the world. I’m not quite sure how we place that blame on Bob Bradley. It’s the way it will ALWAYS be. Soccer is never going to be huge here, and because of that this team will never have a legit shot at winning a world cup, idc who is coaching.

  • bobby

    I agree with 10. Other then Donovan.. who did look like one of the top players at the world cup… the US team lacks talent. I would say Dempsey is up there also. But from what Ive seen, the “good players” on the US team wouldnt be there on teams like Argentina.

  • Alex

    On the plus side, some of our better players from this WC are pretty young and will be here next go round. The younger Bradley looked pretty good throughout, and he’s only 22. Torres, Edu, and Feilhaber are young and should be better with another several years of experience, and they weren’t bad this time. And imagine if Findley learns how to score over the next four years, paired up with a more mature/experienced Jozy? Then there might be a reason to start him.

    Otherwise, 10 is on the money. Bradley coached this squad close to its potential, while Brown did not.

  • Rich

    Our second best player is Clint Dempsey. Go find a starting spot for him on Argentina. You can’t. As a matter of fact, because of the position he plays, he isn’t even making the team, and probably not making the 30 man roster during qualifying. The difference in talent is obvious, and people talking about this team seemingly missing that something are right about that. However, it isn’t some “swagger” or coach..it’s talent.

  • Omar13Vizquel

    So sad to see the team go out again. Four years is a looong time. That was one heck of a (relatively) comfortable draw and route to the semis.

    Still, I won’t be sad to see the end of people b****ing about soccer, as if it’s something they are being forced to watch.

  • Alex

    @Rich, I assume you mean Donovan’s our best player? Don’t forget about Timmy.

  • Funes

    Rich, your level of ambishion is amazing. The U.S. has plenty of talent our there. We have 300 million people in this country. Our youth ranks/teams need to improve. And we will say a wave of kids with talent to bring any major team to its knees. You say soccer will never be big here…well chum your sadly mistaken. cause soccer in the U.S. is on the rise. If we improve on out outlets for youth we will find much hiden talent. Look at that kid that plays for D.C. united (Andy Najar). He is a poor immigrant kid that is dripping talent. He was picked up by D.C. united youth teram. That type of kid will do wonders for out national team in the future.

  • mgbode

    I would argue that youth soccer in the US is at an alltime high. more kids are playing than ever before and there are more leagues with more access to all demographics.

    that hasn’t changed the fact that soccer still ranks anywhere from 6th to 10th on the overall media ranking (outside of the world cup). football, college football, nba, college basketball, baseball, hockey, nascar, tennis, and golf are all currently bigger TV draws.

    the bigger TV draws pay the best here in the states, and thus, attract the better athletes as they rise the ranks and need to choose a particular sport.

    hockey, nascar, tennis, and golf – soccer has an innate advantage over these sports in that the cost of entry is not nearly as high.

    one contributing factor that might help soccer longterm in this country is the growing obsession to focus kids on one sport early by playing club teams year-round. so, instead of a kid playing football/soccer, then basketball then baseball. they might play soccer year-round and when the time comes to choose (usually HS, sometimes college), they won’t have that choice to make.

    that will help the mid-to-upper level income people, but the soccer federations still need to then do something for the low income because despite soccer not being any more expensive to play than basketball, they definitely don’t seem to be making inroads there.

  • brwnsgrl

    I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know much about soccer and can’t really get into it, but I happen to be in England right now and was in London in a pub watching the England/Germany match along with what seemed like 1000 English fans. The tv and papers were going nuts this morning.

  • Rich

    Funes, the popularity difference between soccer and those of baseball/football/basketball is never going to change in my lifetime, and I’ve got a long way to go. As long as the LeBrons, LaDanians, and Kobes of the U.S are playing other things than soccer, then we will never be able to consistently compete with the Brazils/Argentinas/Germanys of the world.

    I think it’s an accomplishment that we actually came in to this world cup with the expectation that the US should make it out of the group, or it would be a failure. Well, they did it. Maybe we are at a point now where we should be expecting the U.S. to always make it out of the group, and to me that is development. But it is a far, far cry from the very to teams in the world. A long, long way to go.

  • JJ in DC

    The bottom line is that we have to keep developing players, especially at the striker position. I’m mixed on Bradley right now. He’s done a heck of a job over the past four years, but it may be time for him to move on.

    Id love to see Jurgen Klinsmann take the reigns and help propel US Soccer to the next rung on the ladder, but for that to happen, Sunil Gulati has to get out of the way and let Klinsmann do his thing.

  • Dan

    Bradley should be fired, and Jurgen Klinsmann hired.