In Defense of Bob Bradley

In Defense of Bob Bradley

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On May 11, 2009
  • 16 Comments
  • Bob Bradley, Geoff Reid, US National Team

Editor’s Note: Geoff Reid appears on WVHooligan.com each week, covering all things footie. This week he takes a look into the US National team picture in his defense of manager Bob Bradley. As always feel free to leave your comments to Geoff below.

From the start it was always going to be difficult. Jurgen Klinsmann had just taken his nation to the last four of the World Cup they were hosting and could have made the final if lady luck fancied them a little more. When Sunil Gulati and the USSF came calling the timing just wasnít right, too soon most likely. Whoever was going to get the job vacated by Bruce Arena was always going to be second choice.

That person had to be Bob Bradley.

In less then a year, Bradley guided the US national team to another Gold Cup title beating arch rival Mexico in the final. The team had a much less then successful Copa America a few days later although be it with another squad, a “B team” if you will. The following year in the summer of 2008 after three high profile friendlies at Wembley, Santander and East Rutherford, NJ, World Cup qualifying started with a bang versus Barbados and strolling through the third round of CONCACAF qualifying. The final round of qualifying has also started with a flier with two wins, one draw and a goal difference of plus 5.

All in all, Bradley has done everything he was meant to do, so far. Yet in certain circles, media and fans alike, the Princeton, New Jersey native canít seem to satisfy a majority of people.

It seems like he canít do anything right whether itís holding back young talent and hurting their careers, not playing an attractive enough style of football, not rolling over opposition in Central America or the Caribbean, depending on too many set pieces for goals, or dependent too much on Tim Howard to pick up clean sheets. The list goes on and on.

Look, whoever was going to take the job after Klinsmann turned it down was always going to fail to live up to expectation. Yes, the opposition that the national team has played is not classed as among the worldís best, however, that is not the fault of Bob Bradley. Simply put, nobody can argue with the results heís got so far. The bottom line is heís done everything heís been asked of up to this point.

The criticism that comes in simply doesnít make much sense for an argument. Hurting young playersí careers really does make one think where this is coming from. Itís fair to say Sacha Kljestan has developed under Bradley, first at club level and now with the ‘Nats. Carlos Bocanegra and DaMarcus Beasley also during the earlier part of this decade. And now his son, Michael Bradley, has really developed his game in the last two years, and Bob is partly responsible for that with the way Michael has stepped up in qualifying recently. Which leads us to another criticism of Bob: Michael only gets as much playing time because heís the son of the coach. One word to describe that: Rubbish! Michael plays regularly because heís that good, simple as that.

We also hear the partnership of Boca and Oguchi Onyewu is a time bomb waiting to go off and that they both are liabilities. While itís obvious enough that the two are not Rio Ferdinand and John Terry or Fabio Cannavaro and Alesandro Nesta, the fact remains they are the best the USA has got in that position and playing at the highest level in that pool of players. What also coincides this is that both players are good at attacking set pieces, the team is over dependent on set pieces, doesnít play good enough football and donít run over teams like we see Spain and Argentina do. Again, simply put, this team hasnít got the players of the quality of Messi, Tevez, Torres, and Villa, at least not yet. What Bradley has done is play to the teamís strengths with at the moment is strict discipline and teamwork, even against teams in Central America because in that environment discipline is so important and against El Salvador it showed because it was lost a little going 2-0 down.

We are not going to outplay a lot of teams, so why try when it would be too risky and not end up working? Let me remind everyone that Klinsmannís Bayern side this season didnít play with much discipline and he lost his job ultimately because his defense let him down. A big part of Germanyís success in 2006 was down to Jochum Lowe tactically.

Then we come to the call-ups or lack of call-ups of certain players starting with Freddy Adu. He† simply isnít getting any time in Monaco and although we want to see that change, there is a perfectly good reason for that. Technically, he is very sound and excellent. However, tactically, he has a lot of work to do, especially defensively. Thatís not entirely his fault, he remains very much a work in progress. Then we come to Josmier Altidiore. The same argument can be used on Jozy. However, with Jozy, his game has improved just by training in the environment heís in. This canít continue to go on of course, but he now playís quicker, works harder, has become a better finisher and tactically has improved. The difference why Jozy gets more time then Freddy under Bradley is because Jozy is one of the best options in that position and by the summer of 2010, should be the top striker should injury or loss of form not play a part. With Adu, there is other and better options currently all over midfield: Kljestan, Jose Torres, Pablo Mastroeni, Maurice Edu, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Beasley, and Landon Donovan to name a few. I can see Adu developing as a second striker playing behind Jozy in the future in a Paul Scholes type role but he must improve his game as well as get more experience before that can start to happen.

Sure Bradleyís name doesnít get people excited as much as Klinsmannís name would, however, it is fair to say that Bradley is a much more accomplished head coach then Klinsmann is at this point. No doubt Bradley has room to improve and heíll be the first to admit that, but so far in his coaching career, heís done everything and won everything thatís put in front of him. Lets also not forget he turned a second year Chivas USA team from the worst team in MLS to a playoff team in one season. To some that may be a bigger accomplishment than winning the MLS Cup with the Chicago Fire during their expansion season.

  • Jared Montz

    I think he is been doing well, but I guess when your the National Team coach you are always going to be under a microscope. <br />
    I am looking forward to do a good summer from him and the team!

  • Boy who bleeds socce

    The criticisms of Bob Bradley are deeply rooted in Eurosnobbery. When people call for Mourinho or Klinsmann, I can't but help picturing an American Man U fan or, even worse, a Chelsea supporter.<br />
    <br />
    When I hear people claim that Boca and Gooch are not &quot;Rio Ferdinand and John Terry or Fabio Cannavaro and Alesandro Nesta&quot; I laugh at them for making comparisons, and laugh even harder when I consider the stinginess of Rennes and Std Liege's defenses, both of whom seemed like the top Yanks to get hardware this campaign. Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onewyu are cemented fixtures in the US defense and any experimentation with that core would deteriorate the team, and ultimately result in a loss. Not that Terry and Ferdinand aren&rsquo;t great defenders, but I wouldn&rsquo;t expect anything less of envious England-transports to point to Man U and Chelsea as idealistic examples when the French and Belgian leagues have two well-rounded Americans. <br />
    <br />
    In regards to Bradley&rsquo;s boy, it&rsquo;s expected that people would initially claim that Bob&rsquo;s exhibiting paternal preference in playing his son. But those criticisms should have disintegrated like Mexico&rsquo;s belief that they weren&rsquo;t going to lose 2-0 in Columbus. There are people I have the utmost confidence in, and, in addition to the three listed above, Bradley is one of them (not referring to discipline here&hellip;lol).<br />
    <br />
    Finally, and most importantly, I think we are reaching in dangerous (and eventually embarrassing) territory when looking for celebrity powers like Mourinho or Klinsmann. Haven&rsquo;t we learned from the Gullit &ndash; Beckham experiment? Ultimately, both did more harm to American soccer and escaped prematurely leaving America in disarray. This isn&rsquo;t international football. This is Major League Soccer, United Soccer Leagues, College soccer and Olympic Development Programs. Frankly, as Gullit wasn&rsquo;t equipped to handle the MLS organizational structure, surely Mourinho and Klinsmann won&rsquo;t understand how talent develops in this country and ultimately do what Sven did to Mexico.<br />
    <br />
    When something isn&rsquo;t broken, don&rsquo;t fix it.<br />
    <br />
    In Bradley We Trust.

  • I think he is been doing well, but I guess when your the National Team coach you are always going to be under a microscope.
    I am looking forward to do a good summer from him and the team!

  • Kaiser

    Like the article and I agree with the idea that Bradley has turned out to be a good coach for the national team, but the statement, &quot;it is fair to say that Bradley is a much more accomplished head coach than Klinsmann is at this point&quot; is ridiculous!!! Klinsmann coached a team to the WC semifinals (you point out that the tactical credit should go to Low, but who brought Low in?…couldn't Klinsmann find a similar assistant again?…he surrounds himself with good soccer people). Klinsmann also has coached at Bayern Munich (Chivas, Energy Drink, and Fire don't compare). True Klinsmann struggled at Bayern, but I'm not sure it was totally his fault. He inherited a team that doesn't fit well together (I watch them every week), and was a casualty of the front office's constant medling (as seen by the Donovan experiment). Also, Klinsman lived in the US and knows the system better that many of the Euro coaches you mentioned in the article. I think Klinsmann would have been a great coach for the US National team.<br />
    <br />
    Finally, we must remember that Bradley has accomplished very little so far. He has helped some young players develop, which is good, and led a team that beats up on N. American opponents, but his predecessor did those things as well. What we need is a coach that will keep doing those things, and also help us compete at a higher level against the top competition and do well at the WC. I think Bradley has the potential to do that…but hasn't done it yet.

  • Boy who bleeds soccer

    The criticisms of Bob Bradley are deeply rooted in Eurosnobbery. When people call for Mourinho or Klinsmann, I can’t but help picturing an American Man U fan or, even worse, a Chelsea supporter.

    When I hear people claim that Boca and Gooch are not “Rio Ferdinand and John Terry or Fabio Cannavaro and Alesandro Nesta” I laugh at them for making comparisons, and laugh even harder when I consider the stinginess of Rennes and Std Liege’s defenses, both of whom seemed like the top Yanks to get hardware this campaign. Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra and Oguchi Onewyu are cemented fixtures in the US defense and any experimentation with that core would deteriorate the team, and ultimately result in a loss. Not that Terry and Ferdinand arenít great defenders, but I wouldnít expect anything less of envious England-transports to point to Man U and Chelsea as idealistic examples when the French and Belgian leagues have two well-rounded Americans.

    In regards to Bradleyís boy, itís expected that people would initially claim that Bobís exhibiting paternal preference in playing his son. But those criticisms should have disintegrated like Mexicoís belief that they werenít going to lose 2-0 in Columbus. There are people I have the utmost confidence in, and, in addition to the three listed above, Bradley is one of them (not referring to discipline hereÖlol).

    Finally, and most importantly, I think we are reaching in dangerous (and eventually embarrassing) territory when looking for celebrity powers like Mourinho or Klinsmann. Havenít we learned from the Gullit Ė Beckham experiment? Ultimately, both did more harm to American soccer and escaped prematurely leaving America in disarray. This isnít international football. This is Major League Soccer, United Soccer Leagues, College soccer and Olympic Development Programs. Frankly, as Gullit wasnít equipped to handle the MLS organizational structure, surely Mourinho and Klinsmann wonít understand how talent develops in this country and ultimately do what Sven did to Mexico.

    When something isnít broken, donít fix it.

    In Bradley We Trust.

  • Boy who bleeds socce

    Only in America would we criticize a manager who goes 24-4-8, winning the Gold Cup against Mexico, assure us dominance in CONCACAF, and outscore our opponents 71-31.<br />
    <br />
    Out of those eight defeats, three were with the tired, understaffed Copa America line-up (which we admittedly didn't send our top roster) and three were international friendlies. With the exception of Mexico, I could care less about the result of an international friendly…and ultimately international friendlies don't determine a coach's legacy. Therefore, 6 out of the 8 loses were truly meaningless (assuming Copa America wasn't pursued as a top priority as seen by our projected lineup). Since the end of 2006, the US has suffered 2 true losses (you can fact check…I'm going off terrible ESPN and outdated soccer archives).<br />
    <br />
    With that said, please explain to me how Bradley hasn't done his job.

  • Kaiser

    Like the article and I agree with the idea that Bradley has turned out to be a good coach for the national team, but the statement, “it is fair to say that Bradley is a much more accomplished head coach than Klinsmann is at this point” is ridiculous!!! Klinsmann coached a team to the WC semifinals (you point out that the tactical credit should go to Low, but who brought Low in?…couldn’t Klinsmann find a similar assistant again?…he surrounds himself with good soccer people). Klinsmann also has coached at Bayern Munich (Chivas, Energy Drink, and Fire don’t compare). True Klinsmann struggled at Bayern, but I’m not sure it was totally his fault. He inherited a team that doesn’t fit well together (I watch them every week), and was a casualty of the front office’s constant medling (as seen by the Donovan experiment). Also, Klinsman lived in the US and knows the system better that many of the Euro coaches you mentioned in the article. I think Klinsmann would have been a great coach for the US National team.

    Finally, we must remember that Bradley has accomplished very little so far. He has helped some young players develop, which is good, and led a team that beats up on N. American opponents, but his predecessor did those things as well. What we need is a coach that will keep doing those things, and also help us compete at a higher level against the top competition and do well at the WC. I think Bradley has the potential to do that…but hasn’t done it yet.

  • Kaiser

    I never said Bradley hasn't done his job…he has, and he actually has done it quite well. What I said was that when we compare Bradley to his predecessor, he has had similar success in player develoment and CONCACAF dominance (two very important areas), but we won't know if Bradley has succeeded at the overall goal of helping the US be more competitive at major tournaments like the World Cup for a little while. When the hire was made I believe that is what US soccer was looking for, someone who could take the team to the next level. Bradley is a good coach, but is still in the process of building. That was my only point.<br />
    <br />
    The other point I had is that I think Geoff Ried was a little unfair in his statements toward Klinsmann. Jurgen would have been a great coach for the US National Team…mostly because he surrounds himself with great assistants and people with high soccer IQs. He knows the American soccer system better than Euros like Gullit, having lived here for years, and he understands the American soccer culture. He didn't succeed at Bayern, but few coaches can (I say that as a huge Bayern fan).

  • Boy who bleeds soccer

    Only in America would we criticize a manager who goes 24-4-8, winning the Gold Cup against Mexico, assure us dominance in CONCACAF, and outscore our opponents 71-31.

    Out of those eight defeats, three were with the tired, understaffed Copa America line-up (which we admittedly didn’t send our top roster) and three were international friendlies. With the exception of Mexico, I could care less about the result of an international friendly…and ultimately international friendlies don’t determine a coach’s legacy. Therefore, 6 out of the 8 loses were truly meaningless (assuming Copa America wasn’t pursued as a top priority as seen by our projected lineup). Since the end of 2006, the US has suffered 2 true losses (you can fact check…I’m going off terrible ESPN and outdated soccer archives).

    With that said, please explain to me how Bradley hasn’t done his job.

  • Kaiser

    I never said Bradley hasn’t done his job…he has, and he actually has done it quite well. What I said was that when we compare Bradley to his predecessor, he has had similar success in player develoment and CONCACAF dominance (two very important areas), but we won’t know if Bradley has succeeded at the overall goal of helping the US be more competitive at major tournaments like the World Cup for a little while. When the hire was made I believe that is what US soccer was looking for, someone who could take the team to the next level. Bradley is a good coach, but is still in the process of building. That was my only point.

    The other point I had is that I think Geoff Ried was a little unfair in his statements toward Klinsmann. Jurgen would have been a great coach for the US National Team…mostly because he surrounds himself with great assistants and people with high soccer IQs. He knows the American soccer system better than Euros like Gullit, having lived here for years, and he understands the American soccer culture. He didn’t succeed at Bayern, but few coaches can (I say that as a huge Bayern fan).

  • Geoff

    Thanks everyone for the feed back. Believe me I learn from all of your input and I knew this topic would generate plenty of it. I just got tired of hearing all this negativity towards Bob Bradley when so far he's done everything he's suppose to although this summer and more importantly in 2010 we'll see how far this team has come since 2006. Just to comment on Kaiser's thoughts on Klinsmann vs Bradley issue, I honestly believe Bradley is currently a better manager then Klinsmann. Jurgen took his nation to the semis of the world cup and not many of us can say that so credit where it's due. However, they were the host nation and therefore didn't go through the rigors of qualifying in Europe and had a pretty good pool of talent at his disposal and of course Loew was in charge of the tactics and match strategies put in place. At Bayern, as Kaiser rightly points out wasn't all his fault as the hierarchy of the club should be blamed as well. Correct me if I'm wrong but the only difference between this season's Bayern squad to last season's title winning side was Oliver Kahn was replaced by Michael Rensing and Massimo Oddo was brought in on loan from Milan? What it tells me is that the squad is 95% the same and yet they struggled at home and in Europe. Klinsmann's situation almost mirrors Marco Van Basten's being he just got the sack at Ajax. Look I know winning Ivy league championships, MLS Cups, and CONCACAF Gold Cups don't compare to taken your nation to the semis of the biggest sporting event in the world, but in truth, Klinsmann hasn't accomplished anything yet and that's not to say he won't because I think he will. he'd be good in MLS or future 'Nats coach as like Kaiser pointed out he's lived here for years, he knows the youth systems pretty well, has European experience and all that's missing is a few more qualifications. Klinsmann would be one of the best foreign appointments in a few years. What would you guys think if the next 'Nats coach was Sigi Schmid?

  • Boy….

    I actually agree with your points. Out of the European celebrities, only Klinsmann could realistically be the coach. He knows and understands the system here, and Gullit was a lost soul whom I would rather see away from the Beautiful Game, much less the game in America.<br />
    <br />
    Arena did accomplish similar results as Bradley…except for the 2002 WC, which he reached the Quarters. So he actually was successful and deserved the spot in 2006. However, before 2006, his record is almost identical. But just because Bradley shares the early success of Arena doesn't mean he will share his later failure. I'll give Bradley the benefit of the doubt. <br />
    <br />
    Sometimes, however, I think most Americans just want to see big names, which will fail to realize reality. It took two huge financial tanks for MLS to check itself. I hope Gulati will not share Garbers mistakes.

  • Geoff

    Thanks everyone for the feed back. Believe me I learn from all of your input and I knew this topic would generate plenty of it. I just got tired of hearing all this negativity towards Bob Bradley when so far he’s done everything he’s suppose to although this summer and more importantly in 2010 we’ll see how far this team has come since 2006. Just to comment on Kaiser’s thoughts on Klinsmann vs Bradley issue, I honestly believe Bradley is currently a better manager then Klinsmann. Jurgen took his nation to the semis of the world cup and not many of us can say that so credit where it’s due. However, they were the host nation and therefore didn’t go through the rigors of qualifying in Europe and had a pretty good pool of talent at his disposal and of course Loew was in charge of the tactics and match strategies put in place. At Bayern, as Kaiser rightly points out wasn’t all his fault as the hierarchy of the club should be blamed as well. Correct me if I’m wrong but the only difference between this season’s Bayern squad to last season’s title winning side was Oliver Kahn was replaced by Michael Rensing and Massimo Oddo was brought in on loan from Milan? What it tells me is that the squad is 95% the same and yet they struggled at home and in Europe. Klinsmann’s situation almost mirrors Marco Van Basten’s being he just got the sack at Ajax. Look I know winning Ivy league championships, MLS Cups, and CONCACAF Gold Cups don’t compare to taken your nation to the semis of the biggest sporting event in the world, but in truth, Klinsmann hasn’t accomplished anything yet and that’s not to say he won’t because I think he will. he’d be good in MLS or future ‘Nats coach as like Kaiser pointed out he’s lived here for years, he knows the youth systems pretty well, has European experience and all that’s missing is a few more qualifications. Klinsmann would be one of the best foreign appointments in a few years. What would you guys think if the next ‘Nats coach was Sigi Schmid?

  • Boy….

    I actually agree with your points. Out of the European celebrities, only Klinsmann could realistically be the coach. He knows and understands the system here, and Gullit was a lost soul whom I would rather see away from the Beautiful Game, much less the game in America.

    Arena did accomplish similar results as Bradley…except for the 2002 WC, which he reached the Quarters. So he actually was successful and deserved the spot in 2006. However, before 2006, his record is almost identical. But just because Bradley shares the early success of Arena doesn’t mean he will share his later failure. I’ll give Bradley the benefit of the doubt.

    Sometimes, however, I think most Americans just want to see big names, which will fail to realize reality. It took two huge financial tanks for MLS to check itself. I hope Gulati will not share Garbers mistakes.

  • Kaiser

    Good article, Geoff. Looking forward to the next one.<br />
    <br />
    By the way…think Sigi would be a great coach. I'm still upset the Galaxy let him go.<br />
    <br />
    Also, Boy that bleeds soccer is right that we don't need celebrity coaches! Most real soccer fans in the U.S. would agree with you.

  • Kaiser

    Good article, Geoff. Looking forward to the next one.

    By the way…think Sigi would be a great coach. I’m still upset the Galaxy let him go.

    Also, Boy that bleeds soccer is right that we don’t need celebrity coaches! Most real soccer fans in the U.S. would agree with you.