With the first match over with, what grade does Bob Bradley get. It was a much hyped and anticipated event that he navigated successfully through. My grade for Bob Bradley would be an B+. The only thing from him getting an A was that he got a draw verses the win. I based it on two criteria; starting 11 and in-game tactic. The starting 11 that Bradley pick I had no problem with. The only question that I had as well as many fans had was the inclusion of Ricardo Clark instead of Maurice Edu or Jose Torres. One can’t blame Bradley for picking Clark because he is a known entity for Bob, he was a starter all through qualification and the Confederations Cup. Bradley knows what he is getting with Clark, he knows Clark’s weaknesses, and the team knows his weaknesses. Torres may be the popular pick but we have only seen him shine in one half of football against Turkey in a friendly, and while Edu is probably a better player than Clark, because of injuries he hasn’t been able to log as much game time with the junior Bradley as Clark. Bradley went with the safe pick rather than having Torres and Edu get their baptism by fire.
At first I really questioned Bradley’s in-game tactics wanting him to bring in Buddle sooner and really push forward and go for the win, but having a day to try to think about it as a manager you get what Bob was trying to do. Bradley knows that this team is a chronic slow starter and they proved it again last night, but they fought back. Now do you take the draw, leave the field feeling confident, keeping yourself in the drivers seat, controlling your own destiny, or do you risk it, push forward, allow England to counter-attack, and give them more chances to spray shots at your already banged up goalie. Then they leave the field dejected, they leave the field as the same old US, no evidence of progress from 2006. A win would have been one for the ages, but the draw keeps this team in the calm, confident, and controlled attitude that it had entering the England match, and this is exactly what they need knowing that Slovenia won and that most likely England will win its two final games. Now the US team can go into win their final two games, knowing they can win, and don’t be surprised if they try to punch in as many goals against Slovenia and Algeria hoping to top England in goal differential for the group lead.
The next two games will call for a different approach from Bob Bradley, lets see how he does, and hopefully him and the US team will both get better and grow into this tournament. Please share your grade for coach Bradley.