Lack of Wide Play Hurting Bradley’s System
Early in Bob Bradley’s tenure it appeared like the US was going to be a side that utilized width and the quality runs of its fullbacks to stimulate an attack. But as time has worn on, Bradley’s ideal playing style has been limited by a lack of depth in the player pool, the falling off of certain key individuals, and the general lack of depth being produced by our national team programs.
Bradley’s ideal playing style would be to pass and go in a 4-2-2-2 formation. Utilizing the two attacking midfielders on either flank, daring runs which were a trademark of DaMarcus Beasley’s career have died off with him on the left side, while on the right, Clint Dempsey is not accustomed to playing out wide, and doesn’t fit traditional role of a winger.
Perhaps with Stuart Holden likely to get the start for the injured Dempsey in San Pedro Sula, we’ll see the style Bradley wanted from the beginning of his tenure finally executed properly on the right side. Also critical in this setup would be right sided fullback Jonathan Spector, whose tactical sense is better than the vast majority of current American players.
On the left side, Edgar Castillo would be the ideal player to fit this US system. Castillo’s defending has been suspect throughout his Primerá Division career. But his runs have been daring, and effective down the left handed side, that he could really add some bite to the US attack. Should the US secure qualification to next summer’s World Cup, look for Bradley to integrate the former Mexican international fully into the setup.
In the middle of the pitch, Bradley would be wise to use Jose Francisco Torres in place of Michael Bradley as the technically gifted attacking central midfielder. Torres can drift wide and make the kind of runs needed to fit this style. But the younger Bradley will not be dropped inspite of his terrible club form, not because he is the coaches son, but because he has come up through all of the USSF programs in Florida, the youth national teams and MLS.
As I have repeatedly stated, I believe Bob Bradley is doing a fair, perhaps even good job with the minimal talent at his disposal, and the requirement of the job being dictated by the USSF. But the fact remains that the United States isn’t nearly as talented, or tactically aware as some of our fans would like to think. When failures occur, they are blamed, unfairly I believe on the manager. While anybody would foolish to state that Bob Bradley is the ideal international manager, the USSF’s ineptitude in player development and unwillingness to hire a foreign manager that would change the culture around the program, leaves analysts like myself believing that Bradley is the least of the USMNT’s current problems.