Where were you when the news dropped that U.S. soccer fired Bob Bradley?
A day after the Manchester United blitz of the MLS All Stars, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced the immediate termination of head coach Bob Bradley. According to the federation’s press release, the firing happened during a meeting in Carson City.
“We want to thank Bob Bradley for his service and dedication to U.S. Soccer during the past five years,” said Sunil Gulati. “During his time as the head coach of our Men’s National Team he led the team to a number of accomplishments, but we felt now was the right time for us to make a change. It is always hard to make these decisions, especially when it involves someone we respect as much as Bob. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
It was no secret that the poor results during the Gold Cup, which ended with a devastating loss to Mexico, hurt Bradley’s standing. While the United State’s most recent World Cup run had some incredible highlights, none better than Landon Donovan’s goal, the team underachieved in the eyes of many. The same mistakes also kept popping up in U.S. team matches: the failure of young players to step up, not scoring the first goal (although this wasn’t the problem against Mexico), and failure to settle on a system/formation.
The timing, however, is bizarre. If U.S. Soccer was unhappy with the Gold Cup, why not fire Bradley then? Unless there is something we don’t know that happened behind the scenes, the timing does not make sense except that the new coach will have a chance to assemble the rosters for the fall friendlies.
So who’s next? It is no secret that Gulati’s white whale has been Jurgen Klinsmann, who has repeatedly turned the job down. With a new position and rebuild under his control in Toronto, it is distinctly possible the U.S. job is less attractive to him now.
If the USSF wanted to turn to MLS to hire its new coach, its most promising candidates are all in playoff runs. Jason Kreis is trying to lead RSL to its second MLS Cup in three years, Sigi Schmid has Seattle points behind LA, Dominic Kinnear’s Houston is chasing the Eastern Conference teams but is in the race, and Hans Backe obviously is trying to win an illusive title for New York. Bruce Arena is a possibility, but he’s been on this ride before.
The depth in the federation is also lacking, with the firing of Thomas Rongen and not having named his replacement. So a likely replacement will come from outside the United States. But who is available? The only big name Euro coaches are those who haven’t been picked up by a team – Carlo Ancelotti, Claudio Ranieri, Diego Maradona. A big name that is available and has international experience is Marcello Lippi, the World Cup-winning manager for the Italian national team in 2006.
USSF will hold another press conference Friday; what do you expect them to say tomorrow? Who do you think will or should be the next head coach of U.S. national team?