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.

10 thoughts on “Lack of Wide Play Hurting Bradley’s System”

  1. If nothing else, Spector is the best man we’ve got at shutting down speedy cats on the left wing.

    Couldn’t agree more about wanting to see more Holden and more Torres.
    Have those two ever been on the pitch simultaneously and -not- as competitors?

  2. Why not play Spector (left) and Cherundalo (right). Its really the best option. At 31 Bocanegra does not have the wheels out wide.

  3. I would like to see Donovan have a free role in the center midfield. In this setup he would need a pure defensive midfielder behind him so Clark would get the nod over Bradley. I would like to see Dempsey on the right and Torres on the left. Holden would come in as a super sub to make runs on the right side in the second half. BennyF could come in for Clark, Torres or Dempsey if tactics deemed appropriate.


  4. Very good insight here Kartik. Your most thoughtful tactical piece. I’m for one ready to see what Torres can do. I would like to see Spector feed the ball into Donovan in the middle and have Dempsey on a flank could work. Let’s not forget what Altidore can do when he gets the ball in front of the keeper with just a man to beat.

    Good luck USA.

  5. JMart I think is on to something, which is even more worrying.

    Kartik has consistently said the 1994, 2002 and even like the 1995 and 1999 teams were better than today’s. It’s hard to argue with that if you, like me remember those teams and pop an old tape of a game into the VHS.

    But it is equally hard to believe with all the $$$ invested in the last several years and the continued movement of our guys to good clubs that we actually have less talent.

    I tend to agree the issue is effort, and quite frankly interest. Many of our players are now so involved and interested in their european clubs that they really mail it in past minute 55 or 60 with the nats. They are looking for the path of least resistance- they want to be on the big stage of the world cup and the confed cup, etc but don’t want to expend the type of effort to get there in style that they should.

    That is the real issue.

  6. Pair up Torres and Bradley in the center. Bradley can be very inconsistent, but when he is on the top of his game he is the best player on the team. And now that he’s starting again in Germany, he’s only going to get better.

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