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Bradley vs Arena: Different Styles

Bob Bradley’s tenure as United States National Team manager has gone about as well as can be expected: A CONCACAF Gold triumph, several victories in the “old world” and thus far a smooth run in qualifying including an elusive win over Guatemala. So with this in mind, clearly their will be no coaching change for the US in the next several years. But Coach Bradley unlike his predecessor Bruce Arena seems to be reluctant to use current club form as a guide to player selection. Arena, almost to a fault felt it necessary even during World Cup qualifying to call in any in-form American player to give him a look.

Bradley seemed to take the Arena philosophy early in his tenure. Bradley’s first year and change on the job saw the call ups of about 70 players. However since the March friendly with Poland, Bradley’s selections have become less and less creative and more and more predictable. Thankfully some of this predictability has been the now routine call ups of Frankie Hejduk and Eddie Lewis both of whom spent a year without being called in after World Cup 2006 when younger players tried and ultimately failed to fill their positions. Unfortunately this also means the continued routine call ups of Eddie Johnson, now playing his trade in England’s second division, Clint Dempsey who has scored one club goal in the last nine months, DaMarcus Beasley whose role should be filled by Lewis until the later retires, and Ricardo Clark who has looked completely out of his depth in his last four matches for the United States.

The return of Clark to the national team for critical qualifiers is totally unjustified. Despite playing on MLS’ dominant team, Clark’s confidence is in the tank. He has been most unimpressive to me while playing for the Dynamo this year other than in a few glimmers. Eddie Johnson and Brian Ching the current US strikers have scored goals in only one match for the US in the last fourteen months: that match was an 8-0 thrashing of Barbados. Had Arena still been managing the national team, in form Kenny Cooper or Charlie Davies would have surely been called into this squad if for no other reason to judge them in camp.

Clint Dempsey not only has played poorly for the US, but seeing him in person now in several US matches over the last 12 months I fear he has gone from having a monster killer instinct to disinterest in the national team. This probably comes from being overworked at Fulham and now confused about his role there, thanks to Manager Roy Hodgson’s tactics. DaMarcus Beasley is a player whose hustle wins him accolades from American coaches and whose Champions League experience gets him love in the press, but whose utility on the international level appears to be waning. Beasley’s first touch and creativity are completely devoid when he needs it the most and I personally am much more comfortable with a wily veteran like Eddie Lewis on the pitch than Beasley whose mistakes and poor positioning are more likely to cost you points than win you anything.

Bradley’s call in of Marvell Wynne is long overdue. For some reason with Wynne available for matches against Mexico and Barbados earlier this year, Drew Moor was called in ahead of him as the first choice right back. Also the call up of Mexican-American fullback Michael Orozco who hopefully can earn his first full US Cap is a welcome sign.

The omission of Kenny Cooper, and Freddy Adu the most creative player the US has are glaring. Arena most certainly would have called both players in to camp in a similar situation. Only time will tell if Bradley’s decisions are justified.

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  1. wow gold

    October 20, 2008 at 11:59 am

    I know some wow gold in wow.

  2. Stanley Villa

    September 3, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Have you talked to “most” Gladbach fans? Give me a break.

    Considering Lil Mikey took-off to meet up with Dad and the travel team for WC Qualifying, I wouldn’t bet on Lil Mikey starting any time soon for Gladbach.

  3. football detective

    September 3, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Bradley (unlike Arena) seems to have settled on a larger core group of players and is going to fine-tune them for the next 2 years.

    Considering the usual USA World Cup performance (excluding 2002), this new tactic may be worth pursuing.

  4. Phillip

    September 1, 2008 at 4:58 pm



    Most Gladbach fans are sure that Bradley’s going to be a starter.

  5. Stanley Villa

    September 1, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    “…celebrate a goal against Barbados, the only game which a current US striker has scored a goal in the last 14 months for the national team.”

    Gee, is it a coincidence that 14 months is almost exactly as long as Lil Mikey has been a lock starter at central mid for the USMNT??? Midfielders are dual players, they need to defend and they need to provide service to the strikers, and in all of Lil Mikey’s 22 caps, I can’t remember one time where he provided a decent pass to a striker to set-up a goal, much less an actual pass that resulted in a goal, as the quote above confirms.

    Lil Mikey became a lock starter with the start of the Gold Cup in June 2007, incidentally long before he had his “wonder” year in Holland, at that time being a bench warmer at veen. Veen, desperate to sell Lil Mikey, took less than 3 million Euro from Gladbach, where if anybody thinks Lil Mikey will be doing anything other than playing in the reserves, you would be sadly delusional.

  6. Brian

    August 30, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    I recommend reading the little interview with Ricardo Clark in Bernardo Fallas’ blog:

  7. Phillip

    August 30, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Bravo… I think this has more to do with it…

    I’m still kind of unsettled in Villarreal. An apartment I thought I would be moving into fell through. So I’m still in a hotel, but hope to be in a new apartment near the beach in Benicassim. It’s right on the coast next to the beach. Nice weather. I really like it there.

    Yeah, things have been hectic. I’m still waiting for my car to come in and trying to get settled in a new country. It’s crazy, but fun.

    Let him get settled.

  8. Bravo

    August 30, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Ives references a blog by Jozy Altidore. Jozy says his Olympic playing time or lack there of had nothing to do with any injury and was all just personel decisions by Nowak. Ridiculous… I wonder if Jozy’s unhappiness with playing time at Olympics is part of why Bradley didn’t call up Altidore?

    Quotes from Altidore:
    “I know there were some things written about me being injured … I don’t know where that came from because I wasn’t injured,” Altidore said. “Maybe my left ankle is not the greatest, but I was more than fine to play. How much I played was really a coach’s decision.

    “I had a game plan for myself, but I guess it wasn’t the same as the coach’s plan. My playing had nothing to do with my ankle, it was just how the coach made the lineup.”

    blog URL:

  9. Soccer Guru

    August 30, 2008 at 9:45 am

    I’d hire any coach before Arena or Bradley. Honestly the USSF is full of people who just recycle ideas and players.

    Time for some new blood!

  10. Javier

    August 29, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Arena was a great coach for the US. People bitched and complained but now realize among American coaches only one choice existed.

    If not Arena, hire a foreign coach!

  11. chop

    August 29, 2008 at 12:46 pm


    I was willing to pass off the omissions for the Guatemala match as due to the short time available for training, but with almost an entire week of training leading up to these two matches, I’m stunned that Eddie Johnson is still there and Cooper doesn’t warrant a call-up.

    As for Adu and Altidore, while it’s important (for 2010 and beyond) that two of our most promising players for the future need minutes with the full team, it’s not important now that they get them. Let them establish themselves with their foreign clubs, then get them in next summer during the Hexagonal when they will be needed most.

    Has anyone in the media simply asked Bradley why these non-moves are being made? I don’t see any commentary about this. Kartik, is the team going to train in Florida this week? Wouldn’t this be one of the first questions being asked?

    Keep up the good work.

  12. Joseph T.

    August 29, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Adu’s omission is more glaring than Cooper’s.

    We really do not know what Cooper can accomplish at this level. While he’s done well in MLS he flopped in England and doesn’t fit Bradley’s style.

    Adu is being omitted because he does not fit the Bucket system. But at the same time he’s easily our most technical and creative player and has proven as a youth international and in his limited time with the senior team that he belongs.

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