Bob Bradley offers struggling MLS teams a better coaching alternative; By Steve Davis


Funny how history changes the way we look at things.

Where some fans and media once lamented the Plain Jane, highly vanilla ways under former U.S. manager Bob Bradley, you wonder if some of those very same people are longing for the stability and general predictability of Bob Bradley?

Time will tell if Jurgen Klinsmann’s quirky ways will displace the American effort from its comfort zone or if his time in charge will finish as “something different, but not a step forward?” But that’s another debate.

For now, let’s talk about Bradley. Because what you got from him was a team highly organized in every way (on and off the field). Whereas Klinsmann likes to challenge players with less familiar roles and requests, Bradley’s teams thrived on the very opposite: on predictability in approach from the moment they arrived into camp until the very last kick of the ball on match-day.

We can argue all day about which set of philosophical tenets best served the United States national team. It’s even possible that Bradley’s and his four-door sedan were best to drive the program through the late 2000s, with Klinsmann necessarily revving the fancy sports car to take the curves ahead at a higher speed.

But again, that’s another debate.

What I’m here to say is this: Bradley is a good manager. And if I’m running a Major League Soccer team that is struggling for traction, I am moving heaven and Earth to put Bradley in charge.

You may not have been in love with the identity of Bradley’s teams (although everyone loved the scrappiness), but they had an identity. That included a structure so tightly woven that things wouldn’t fall apart in the last 10-15 minutes as players tired or concentration waned – and we know that has been an alarming trend under Klinsmann.

Quick, what is Philadelphia’s identity? Jim Curtin’s team has no creativity through the middle. And the wingers, Sebastian Le Toux and Andrew Wenger, seem to have regressed. At the other end, they cannot defend set pieces. Result: winless in four.

Montreal is also winless, although only in three. And they did score for the first time over the weekend. That came in a draw at home – against an expansion side, Orlando City. Yes, they are doing well in CONCACAF Champions League, and that may help Frank Klopas keep his job for a while. But given his inability to make hay previously in Chicago, stacked on top of last year’s pitiful showing in Montreal (28 points, fewest in the league), you wonder for how long?

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