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Bradley’s Bucket: Something Needs to Change

bradley533 Bradleys Bucket: Something Needs to Change

Bradley Leads the US/NY Times Photo

We’ve discussed several times recently on the American Soccer Show the “bucket” formation employed by US Coach Bob Bradley. Part of me sympathizes with why Bradley is using this formation: from my vantage point the US has less attacking talent currently than at any point since the 1994 World Cup. However, the lack of creativity that the US team develops during the course of a match forces the US to rely on counter attacking, something Bob Bradley seems less comfortable with in his words than did his predecessors.

This is not to say Bradley is conflicted: I simply think the US doesn’t have the type of personnel and skill level particularly down the flanks for the Bucket to work effectively as an attacking oriented formation. The bottom line is the formation isn’t working the way Coach Bradley would like against respectable opposition. The bucket has also served to put Michael Bradley, the coach’s son in a very difficult position and a remarkable amount of responsibility for a 20 year old. The younger Bradley is depended on to be a creative force offensively while playing in a withdrawn position and is also counted on to break up the oppositions attack.  As we saw against England, when Landon Donovan whose skill level is so high he can be a creative force from any position on the pitch is absent the US is completely impotent offensively. The US created exactly one good scoring opportunity before minute 69 when the wily veteran Eddie Lewis entered the match. Lewis would be the perfect wide player on the left side for Bradley’s formation, and it is no wonder why even at thirty four, Lewis has repeatedly looked outstanding when playing for the national team under Bradley, after looking less than adequate at times (while being moved to several different positions) under Bruce Arena. Lewis himself created more legitimate scoring opportunities in his twenty one or so minutes of action playing down the flank then DaMarcus Beasley and Clint Dempsey created combined in the previous sixty nine minutes. While this speaks highly of Lewis’ ability to play in the bucket it speaks also very loudly about the limitations the formation places on Beasley and Dempsey.

Given the limited capabilities of the current US National Team player pool, Coach Bradley must consider changing the formation, or at the very least tweaking it, so that a creative attacking midfielder can set up between the two wide flank players. I would strongly consider moving to a 4-5-1 formation with Landon Donovan playing in the center of midfield between Clint Dempsey on the right side and DaMarcus Beasley on the left side. This also gives Bradley the option of playing Freddy Adu in the middle while Donovan plays out wide on the right side and Clint Dempsey is the lone striker.

What are everyone’s thoughts on the US formation and what personel would you like to see against Spain and Argentina this week?

This entry was posted in Bob Bradley, Leagues: Major League Soccer, US National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

12 Responses to Bradley’s Bucket: Something Needs to Change

  1. Can you define the bucket? Dave uses that term on the podcast, but I have yet to find independent description of it.

    As far as I can tell its



    —-d mid—-d mid—



    Is this right?

  2. kartik says:

    Yup that’s it………Basically it looks like a bucket because of all the empty space in the center of midfield with a handle at the top (the strikers) and the base or floor of the bucket at the bottom (defensive midfielders.)

    F F
    AM AM

    DM DM

  3. Gak. Now I see it.

    Yeah, pull back one of those strikers and go with the 4-5-1.

    Put Beasley and Dempsey on the wings, Landon up front (for now), Adu in the middle, and Bradley Jr. and Edu in back.

  4. Phillip says:

    Donovan – Adu – Dempsey
    Edu – Bradley

    DO IT!

  5. Joe says:

    I like the 4-5-1 only if you have a target player ala McBride as that one striker. That means You have to use Jaqua or Cooper, thus let’s find out in the next two friendlies if either of those guys could hack it.

  6. Johnny says:

    I have to tell you as a long time observer of the national team I have to agree with Kartik’s view.

    Ten years ago we had several accomplished strikers or attacking midfielders who could be counted on in international play: Wynalda, JMM, Cobi, Stewart, Ramos, Wegerle, etc. No our player pool wasn’t as deep but our attacking options were certainly better. Freddy Adu has to be given a chance now. Take out lumps with him. Sure he makes mistakes but he has more skill and desire than the majority of our other guys.

    At the back we never had outside man markers as good as Cherundolo and Pearce. They could go down as the best tandem in US history, but in the attack changes need to be made.

    I want to see Kenny Cooper. He’s the great hope. He’s the guy who could temporarily solve this problem.

    Did all of you see Ives Galarcep’s article on Altidore? Very worrying given what we need from Jozy. Ives is usually on the mark and he has great sources particularly with the Metrostars so I would be very concerned.

  7. Mad Dog says:

    I cannot wait to hear what you and DD have to say about this B/S this week! Show on at 2?

  8. JRT says:

    Here is whst I want to see today:

    Hejduk Orozco Onyewu Pearce
    Dempsey Adu Beasley

  9. Kartik says:

    Mad Dog, you won’t be disappointed. Fun show this week.

    Here is my lineup.






    Not the lineup I’d like but the best option in the “bucket” Bradley insists on playing. I wouldn’t even give Dempsey or Beasley a run out. Save them for Barbados or simply drop them at this point.

  10. NJ says:

    I hate the bucket. We have little attacking prowess and with Wolfe and Johnson up front, as in the England match zero attacking talent. I think you have to leave one man up front, and of the current list available for todays game, there truly is only one available DEMPSEY. Then you play Adu right in behind him with Donovan on the right and Beasley on the left. For the back 2 DMF’s I am unimpressed with Rico Clark. In the England game he was terrible on the ball giving it away numerous times and wasting passes. Granted I may be missing something with him, b/c I’m not an expert but throw Edu in with Bradley and lets see what he can do. Finally in the back I like Onyewu, I’m not sold on Bocanegra, and I thought Pearce and Hejduk c/b dangerous out of the back. I would like to see Orozco get a chance to show what he can do.

    Enough rambling, please tell me why I’m wrong on Rico, granted he plays a hard nosed style, which at times is necessary. He doesn’t impress me especially when the opponent is attempting to pressure the ball.

  11. NJ says:

    I knew I missed someone, I am content with Cherundolo in place of Hejduk as well.

  12. Pingback: Bradley’s Bucket: Safety First? | Football Parade!

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