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Bob Bradley Deserves Praise and Credit


Bob Bradley has far too many critics. Some people who believe the US is a big time program and should be led by the likes of Guus Hiddink, just do not get the realities of dysfunctional US Soccer Federation who blew the hiring of Jurgen Klinsmann for the simple fact that they are control freaks and do not take well to any type of criticism.

US Soccer is married to their system and their structure, both of which are highly suspect. The Bradenton Academy in Florida is now ten years old but as we discussed earlier this summer, it has been producing fewer and fewer truly elite players for the national team.

The US Youth National Teams tend to emphasize results over proper player development, leaving some of the best long term prospects frozen out. Some, like Nevan Subotic and Arturo Alvarez even decide to try their luck elsewhere after dealing with the youth coaches. Alas, not ever player has that option, and many young prospects fall victim to US Soccer’s peculiar idiosyncrasies.

MLS is struggling to keep top line talent and several good young American players are frustrated by a lack of playing time or poor tactical coaching in the league. USL is proving to be one of the most dysfunctional leagues on the planet and the crisis of USL puts the PDL which has developed so many key USMNT players at risk.

While more Americans than ever are at European clubs, no one plays a Claudio Reyna or John O’Brien type role for a club that is threatening to win their respective national competition and play in the Champions League.

Add to this the insistence by the USSF to play “home” qualifying games in stadiums that either don’t fill up or attract opposition fans and you understand that Bradley has had a nearly impossible job.

Yet, American fans rightfully impatient and unwilling to think about the structural defects and dysfunctional nature of the system have directed their ire at one man, who by some accounts has done a remarkable job keeping a ship that took on water three years ago, afloat. The anger by US fans is justified and quite frankly, I would like to see more of it. But, the target is not. Bradley is simply a product of a flawed and failed system.

Bradley was never anything more than a transitional manager. In that regard, he is still to be judged. Were he a Klinsmann or Hiddink type hire, it would be one thing, but he is not.

Yet, despite all of this a win (which is almost a lock) tonight in Port of Spain would take the US to within shouting distance of a sixth straight World Cup berth. This would be done despite a talent pool with less top line talent than four, six  or eight years ago, a stronger CONCACAF region and the handicaps from the domestic structure that Bradley’s predecessor, Bruce Arena did not have to deal with.

For all his other flaws, many tactical and in player selection, should the US win tonight (which, again is a virtually a lock), Bob Bradley must be given credit.

Is Bradley the manager I would have hired? No. Would I even have considered him? No. But given the situation with US Soccer it is completely unrealistic to expect anything other than the results, poor as they may seem that we have achieved. Moreover, it is totally unrealistic to think a foreign manager would take the US job with the Federation structured in its current fashion.

It’s time US fans directed their anger where it should be directed: at the
Federation and its structure, not at the manager who is simply at the mercy of that very structure and system.

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  1. Two Cents

    September 12, 2009 at 8:37 am


    You blow hot and cold on Bradley — depending on results.

    But here you go *way* too easy on him. We all know he is constrained by the federation, the set-up for developing youth talent, the state of the player pool, etcetera.

    But this is still a man who clings to poorly chosen favorites: Exhibits Bornstein, Kljestan, Beasley, and Ching.

    This is a man who started playing Davies and Spector only when his prefered choices went down injured — even though it was patently obvious that Davies and Spector were the better players.

    It is an old argument: Imagine a healthy Ching this summer — are you telling us that Davies really would have got lots of minutes in South Africa? That Davies really would have started in Azteca?

    Bob Bradley is the man who cannot wrap his head around the qualities Jose Francisco Torres brings to the squad — a failure so large it should leave us all gobsmacked.

    He is a man who sees fit to play his own son 90 minutes in every match irrespective of form. (We all know the score on this one: Mikey Bradley is very good, one of our best central midfielders. We also know he is a very *limited* passer of the ball.)

  2. Rafael

    September 10, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Andy and Angel are right about Bradlet’s sloppy dress, but I think it more an American and cultural thing.
    Latin Amerrican and European coaches are all formed from a European culture that has developed formality and a culture of dress. Europeans don’t even wear sneakers.
    Bob Bradley like Arena, have been formed by the American culture of the casual and laid back. Americans are notorious for their sloppy dress.

  3. Jimi

    September 10, 2009 at 10:59 am

    Rex, I totally agree. Nepotism sucks. I think that if a player is on the team, his dad should be exempt from being head coach or an assistant coach, OR that player can not be on the national team. It only makes sense. It seems a conflict of interest to me.

  4. Rex

    September 10, 2009 at 8:49 am

    How do we know the US talent pool isnt was it was in the past? We don’t. Because Bradley wont play anyone but washed up players like Beasely. That and the fact that we are force to play with Michael Bradley in the middle no matter what. EVERY player in the midfield has either been benched or subbed or moved to another position EXCEPT Michael.

  5. Jimi

    September 10, 2009 at 2:02 am

    Beckerman blows. Sorry he has the sensitive touch of a toilet seat. Feilhaber is ok but no Reyna or O’Brien. Those two were our equivalent of Lampard and Gerrard and we haven’t seen anything close to those guys since. I blame Bradenton for that. BB is a shitty coach. The system is messed up and filled with ego-maniacal executives who care more about their power and jobs than about American Soccer. CONCACAF is not stronger than it was 8 or 10 or 12 years ago. To the contrary, any team that has to play Argentina or any other CONMEBOL team for the last spot in the WC is gonna get smeared. Then and only then will we truly see just how bad we are and how pathetic CONCACAF is. Can’t wait for Castillo and Jones to get FIFA approval to play. If BB doesn’t play them in the positions they are known to be good at instead of his son and his other favorites, that will be the icing on the cake that American Soccer is f#cked for next year’s WC. It’s so sad because in 94 I thought we were just around the corner from being a contender and the arrogance, self-centeredness and ego of a few have hijacked American Soccer and our collective dream of a winning side in this WC and probably many more to come.

  6. Angel

    September 10, 2009 at 1:01 am

    Hey Andy is like you read my mind, I was thinking the same thing too, especially today against T&T before the game, and after the game the T&T coach who just to be a player from them was wearing a regular sport suit. you see Aguirre Mexico Coach, De Los Cobos El Salvador, Honduras Coach and even the coach from Costa Rica have a suit on under that rain coat. I think our coach need to show some kind of respect and at least show that he is a professional coach. Anyway that is the same way he coach this team with out any style.

  7. Andy

    September 9, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    I’m tired of the man who is supposed to represent this country with our nats wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt. He looks ridiculous, and our federation “suits” obviously don’t care about the way our team presents themselves when he shows up looking like that. If there isn’t a dress code, there should be. You can’t even bus tables at most restaraunts looking like that. I know I’m whining to no one in particular on this blog, but it’s very amateur to present yourself like that if you want to be taken seriously.

  8. Angel

    September 9, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    My god you all Bob lovers have to be joking, Ok he did a fair game against Spain & Egypt but come on against Spain was more a good luck and more guts from the players than the Technical game that bob bradley implemented. Please look what happen after the spain & Egypt games. We lost to 3-2 Brazil after leading 2 goals, then lost to Mexico in the Gold Cup 5-0 when the USA had a good first Half, Them we go to Mexico at the Azteca and loose once again 2-1 after leading 1-0, Please the Altitude, the smog, and the people is just an excuse for loosing or going there with no comfident. After we receive El Salvador which give us a hard time the way the game was setup was awful. Now we go to T&T and barely win 1-0 please Give me a break that this Coach is a good one hahahaha you are making laugh.

  9. DA in LA

    September 9, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    He’s a tactical moron.

    We will be embarrassed at the World Cup.

    Supporting the idiot is foolish and wastes four years of possible improvement.

  10. bookmakers

    September 9, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    he is a great coach, just look at the confederations cup…

  11. Lars

    September 9, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Nothing is a lock with Jack the Ripoff backing up Trinidad and Tobago. The guy should be thrown out of FIFA and CONCACAF dealings forever.

  12. JMB321

    September 9, 2009 at 5:42 pm


    Please provide some tangible, realistic and achievable actions that US Soccer can take to be more successful in the international game. I would appreciate multiple bullet points with timelines to determine when the US can realistically compete in the top tier and in the World Cup.

    If USSF is dysfunctional as you say, there needs to be an alternative game plan that can be presented to the next generation of US soccer leadership. They may not listen but lets start with some realistic talking points that can be achieved within the current sports environment.


  13. Hahaa

    September 9, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    its unbelievable how many times u flip flop on this issue. some times u’ll say he is the worst tactical manager the US has had in a long time and other times u’ll say he’s a genius.

    im tired of seeing these types of article where u change ur opinion on him after every game and its always on the extreme side

    it seems ur easily swade by wut other plp r saying in the media

  14. EastLAChiva

    September 9, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Good article, Kartik. However, I do think Bob’s preference for certain favorites and his “bunker” mentality doesn’t help him or the USSF.

    We really need to keep internationalizing our talent development. Remember the 2010 plan? WE need to revisit those issues and ideas and be pragmatic about it. USSF is too rigid.

    Yes, we could do better with an international coach or a more, “well rounded” coach, but for now, we have what we got.

    Change is not the USSF’s future so we’ll have to wait for things to fall apart (like not qualifying) before that happens. Even if does, with same characters, we’ll ge the same results.

  15. francesco

    September 9, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    kartik i agree with you. only idiots will hire an idiot to represent them, thus bob bradley is a byproduct of a flawed organization. yes he’s done about the best job a largely underqualified coach at the international level could have done.

    so now that we have identified the problem what do we do? i like you kartik love the USMNT and want our side to succeed, however, will it take the USMNT completely imploding to see a change occure within the USSF?

  16. LLCJ

    September 9, 2009 at 11:59 am

    We should praise the decision to keep playing Beasley, Bornstein and Kljestan, players he had at the club level and clearly had no business in the Confed Cup?


    I do think the “bunker bob” stuff is over the top, but he’s not a good coach. The fact that he is the best American coach produced by a flawed system backs up your other points well, I will concede.

  17. MWR

    September 9, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Well said. CONCACAF has improved, and its is Bradenton that has let us down, not the current coaches.

    While Honduras produces a Suazo, Bradenton produces Eddie Gaven. While Mexico produces Vela and Dos Santos, Bradenton gives us Andre Akpan and Jacob Peterson.

    You get the picture.

  18. John M

    September 9, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Kartik, you make me sick.

    We could pick a random youth coach who’d do better than Bradley because at least he’d start our most talented XI, not the all Chivas/Chicago Fire XI.

    As far as a talent dropoff, it’s appears that way because of who Bradley starts. He doesn’t feature Freddy or Cooper, and is unwilling to play a midfielder like Beckerman or Feilhaber who has the Reyna/O’Brien attributes you refer to for more than spot duty or against weaker opposition.

    Yes, the USSF is a mess. A dysfunctional band of corrupt cronies. But Bradley is no better, and is the perfect manager for the culture of corruption and lack of accountability that surrounds the USSF.

    Oh and winning today merely assures we have a shot of qualifying. Costa Rica and Honduras can finish us, by beating us, which is still entirely possible.

    • gmonsoon43

      September 9, 2009 at 1:17 pm

      Freddy has no business with the US until he plays for a club team, he got his shot in the Gold Cup and again underwhelmed. Beckerman has been given playing time this summer, however in an “A” team match on Saturday wasn’t overly impressive. And Feilhaber just started our most recent match and has subbed in on many occasions this summer. Now I do believe Cooper could see more call-ups, but he is at best our 4th best forward (Altidore, Davies, Dempsey when pushed up top) and does not offer the target abilities of Brian Ching.

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