Bob Bradley’s Theory on How to Beat England

The U.S. Men's National Team poses for a team photo at the ESPN headquarters in Bristol

Bob Bradley is a strategic thinker.  He has to be.  He coaches a mid-level national soccer team whose first game is against one the top ranked teams in the world – England.   Bradley knows that the US does not have enough talent to win on talent alone.  If the Founding Fathers had failed and America had remained an English colony, there are probably only three Americans – Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard – who would be in contention to be among Fabio Capello’s 23.

Yet, in Bradley’s team selection that was announced today, he clearly has a theory on how his team can top England, get out of the group, and be in contention to ruin anyone’s day in the knock-out stages of the World Cup – SPEED.  In forgoing a seasoned veteran poacher like Brian Ching and a young versatile dribbler like Alejandro Bedoya, Bradley opted for the quicker Robbie Findley and DaMarcus Beasley.  Combined with Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey, Coach Bradley is convinced that he can break down England by getting behind them.

For Bob Bradley, an instructive insight into his team’s potential must have come when Everton played Chelsea earlier this year.  In that game, Landon Donovan was going up against John Terry and Ashley Cole.  Cole is a quick player, but Donovan’s speed forced his to stay back until he got injured and went off.  Terry has to shade on Donovan’s side to contain his speed, and that space allowed Louis Saha to get the game winner.  Donovan also had an assist, drew a penalty, and was named man of the match.  His surging runs unbalanced the Chelsea back line and created space and chances for Everton.

Bradley also knows that John Terry has looked poor the past several months.  Perhaps it is just a coincidence that this drop in form corresponds with his personal scandal, but during the last few months Terry’s normal physical play has become more violent.  He was tossed out of the Tottenham game for collecting yellow cards and Bradley knows that when he starts chasing a player, Terry can be very aggressive.  Tackles that get a stern lecture from the referee in England will often get a yellow or red card in international play.

If Bradley can stretch England down the sides and through the middle, force their left and right backs to stay closer to home and get Terry and Rio Ferdinand to have to turn and chase, the US can create some chances and win the game.  Moreover, if Michael Bradley and Maurice Edu can pressure Steven Gerrard into turning the ball over, which he has been doing lately, the US will have the sprinters to launch counter-attacks at a backpedaling English line.  Bradley is counting on a younger, quicker and fitter team to overcome England’s skill and, hopefully, over-confidence.

In short, Bradley wants to play the same type of game that the Mexicans played against the English on Monday.  Ignore the 3-1 score line which flattered the English team.  The truth is that Mexican speedsters like Carlos Vela and Guillermo Franco battered the back line, Mexico chased down everything, pressured the midfield and out-possessed England.  It was a stirring performance and Mexico was unlucky to have missed out on a win or a draw.

Bradley is wagering that if the US can let speed infect their game, they will cause a lot of problems for the English team.  He has decided to fashion a team with that strategy in the forefront.

15 thoughts on “Bob Bradley’s Theory on How to Beat England”

  1. You must be joking if you think that Findley sees any action against England. If Bradley plays him he should be fired immediately. Findley has been an embarrassment for the national team.

    Donovan won’t be going up against Cole if Bradley plays his usual formation because Donovan plays on the left for the US which would put him up against Glen Johnson. Your argument would work for that side of the field as well because Johnson tends to disappear upfield or just not defend very well.

  2. Who starts at forward for the US? Who do you want to start at forward for the US? Do the forwards you want to start regularly play forward? How often have your choices at forward played together. Would you choose the MLS forwards on the squad who have seen virtually zero time?

    If Bradley thinks he’s going to exploit weaknesses, There’s a guy named Fabio who is pretty good at strategery too.

    I hope I’m wrong, but this whole thing is looking pretty fragile.

    After last nights charade, I think it’s pretty obvious there’s a committee involved in making personnel choices. Bradley knew who he was bringing before that goofy tryout. Hopefully he’s got an excellent reason, two games from England, not to play his starters. That’d be some sweet strategy.

    1. You do realize there were other encounters between the US and England other than a game played in 1950, right? :)

  3. We (USA) can start Dempsey as a withdrawn striker with Altidore. Dempsey was playing that role alot for Fulham. Then they can use Gomez and possibly Buddle to play the last 20 minutes of the match.

  4. Howard is a great keeper but he’s not even the U.S.A.’s 2nd best keeper. Add Guzan and Freidel to your list. Hahnemann might even make that list although not before Howard.

    1. Guzan is better than Howard to you? I’m a fan and all, but he doesn’t start for club and he let in 4 against the Czechs the other night. Friedel may be the best American keeper, but Howard is the best of the keepers available without question.

  5. All you nay sayers are dogmatic! Read carefully! The writer is breaking down, what he believes is Bob Bradley’s strategy. He doesn’t argue that the strategy is going to to work. Nor does he claim he knows anything about how to beat England but what he does claim are facts that speed is ‘a’ problem for England. He sites specifically against John Terry and Ashley Cole, whether this is true is for you to decide and whether any of Bob Bradley’s decisions will have any affect against England is yet to be determine but don’t make claims and assertion without evidence! Just because you have reading comprehension skills of a middle school retard doesn’t mean you have to be so critical of other peoples work.

  6. Neither USA or England will underestimate each other, the main point is not to lose, your probably need seven point to be sure of qualifying for the next round. So a draw or lose in a low scoring match will not be a disaster, goal difference might play a role in a tight group. Remember England are notorious for starting slowly and this was proved against Mexico where in the fast half the mexicans had a majority of the play but, were poor at set pieces and were punished. In the second half England changed formation and were a lot tighter. Both England and the USA should qualify for the last 16.

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