- 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.