A Quick Conversation With Sunil Gulati

Finally had our chance to catch up with USSF President Sunil Gulati.

US Soccer leader Sunil Gulati

Gulati is a figure that doesn’t need any introduction. A lighting rod of criticism by uber fans over the last year, the president of US Soccer is actually quite a likable figure. He’s got an email readily available to any fan that wants it and, from only recent observations, you can tell there is quite a bit of passion and US Soccer zeal under a veneer that is always aware of how strong the signal is coming from his voice.

As we commented a few weeks ago, TSG was able to sit with Sunil as he presided over a socratic method-style fan forum before the Chile game.

We were able to catch up with him after the game and led off with a subject that is dear to his heart, the US Women’s team. In doing our research we learned that Sunil loves to talk about the US ladies and is so smitten with the team–beyond his job details–that, in 2008, he elected to stay in China to watch the US Women do battle in the Olympics rather than hightail it to Guatemala to catch up with the USMNT for a critical qualifier against Guatemala.

Don’t worry, he caught both games–he never misses watching any.

Now our conversation with US Soccer prez Sunil Gulati:

TSG: So, are you going to watch the ladies tonight?

Sunil Gulati: No, no. I’m on a flight back to New York. How could I watch it live? Oh, on the internet. I have a flight back when it’s on at 3am.

TSG: What’s your expectation for the women’s team at the upcoming World Cup? Do you think they’re challenged by their youth? They’ve had a few stumbles in the last two tournaments or series of games if you will?

SG: The challenges are they’ve lost only two games in the past two years…so I’m not sure anyone is hitting the panic button.

The expectations for this team are very high. They’re Olympic champions. Everyone, the players, the coaches has very hight expectations. But the gap has clearly narrowed at the top.

German’s playing at home. They’re defending world champions.

TSG: They’re a young team. Do they have enough time to prepare and reps to prepare?

TSG is a fan of Pia as well...

SG: I don’t know. I leave that to Pia to figure out. We’ve got a pretty experienced player and coach in her. The preparation will be as good as we can make it.

TSG: Getting to the recently concluded World Cup bid process, with about a month to reflect, what would you do differently about the bid process.

SG: About the bid process?

TSG: Anything with the bid process?

SG: There are a lot of things that I would do differently, but could we do anything differently to make a difference.

I’m not sure the answer to that is yes.

TSG:  Looking back and seeing the various news reports, do you think Qatar won the bid based upon merit?  Assuming US  bid was top-notch and the technical analysis as we know was excellent.

The US put in a strong bid and Qatar’s technical review was weak. In that respect, asking the question again, do you think Qatar won the bid based upon merit?

SG: Listen, I said many times along the way. These decisions are elections. They’re not compute-generated programs that spit out an answer to a multi-variable calculus problem.

People are going to base their decisions on many different things.

Part of it is the inspections. Part of it is going into new territories.

At the end of the day, we accept the results.

We congratulate Qatar and we move on.

Bunbury, Chile, Boom!

TSG: A striker got fouled this evening [Juan Agudelo against Chile]. A striker scored [Teal Bunbury]. Much has been made about that a US striker has not scored at the past two World Cups.

But then you look at a country like Paraguay. A very successful country on the international front.

For the past two World Cups they had less collective goals than the US and a striker only scored one of them.

Do you think the US striker situation is scapegoated a little too much?

SG:  I think when you talk about a total of seven games it is a very small sample size.

We won our group without having a forward score so there is obviously other ways to win games.

Clearly you would like the players up top to help in that area and I’m sure they’ll help in that area in qualifying.

TSG: I’m sure, but one thing that I thought was interesting was…well it was odd for me to hear the strikers singled out after World Cup. It seemed out of context for a US team that always focuses on quote “team.”

SG: I don’t think it was put out as a challenge. It was more put out as a statistical fact of the last seven games.

Look it’s a strange circumstance. For example, against Ghana we could have had a striker instead of Landon and today it could have been a midfielder.

I don’t want to get too caught up that.

TSG: In terms of the US team now, what’s your expectations for the next few years..let’s say for the next two years. What are your success metrics for Bob Bradley?

SG: This year it’s all about two things.

A year ago we would have said it’s about the Gold Cup and trying to qualify for the Confederations Cup.

Because the qualification schedules has changed, the first six months are all about preparation for and winning the Gold Cup. After that we have to focus on qualifying.

Those are the big things on the schedule.

Coach Bob...

TSG: Okay, I’d like to go back and ask some questions on Bob Bradley. I’m sorry but I never got to ask these questions at the time.

Did you look at many other candidates? Did you look at just one other candidate? How many candidates did the USSF look at?

SG: The biggest part of discussions with Bob was whether two cycles is or was too much.

In the end, I don’t think there is anything else to be gained about talking about anything else that might’ve happened, about what we’ve done or not done.

Bob’s our coach. He’s had a good run. We all thought another little break and we could have beat Ghana.

We won our group. Got to the semifinals and got to the finals of the Confederation Cup a year earlier.

Those are pretty good results.

TSG: Okay, then let me get specific with regard to one name that’s come up: Jurgen Klinsmann. Will Jurgen Klinsmann ever be considered for the USMNT head coaching role with the present USSF leadership still in place?

SG: Do I interpret that as will US Soccer ever hire Jurgen Klinsmann if I am president of the federation?

TSG: [laughing] Well I was trying to be diplomatic.

SG: Life is long so who knows. I don’t think there is any point on speculating.

There’s been so much speculation on what I may or may not have done. We’re focused very much on qualifying for the World Cup and winning the Gold Cup and continuing to move the program forward.

TSG: Alright, are you having fun with your job?

SG: Yeah, overall, sure.

December 2nd wasn’t a whole lot of fun. But last summer was pretty extraordinary. The summer before was pretty extraordinary. The Olympics for the women before that was pretty extraordinary.

In any situation where you have wins and loses, there are plenty of disappointments along the way. But overall, sure.

TSG: What advice would you have for your eventual successor?

SG: Well, I think there’s a couple of things. One have as much experience as you can and you gotta have fun doing it. It’s an unpaid gig.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve found–and I’ve been doing what I’ve doing for twenty years.. Probably the biggest change is communication and the speed of communication, of technology and all those things.

What might have been discussions in a bar ten years ago about how the team played are now discussions in cyberspace and now end up in my email. There are some positive and some negatives with that….because now everyone has a megaphone.

The communication has changed very dramatically.

In the end you have to be able to take that into account because the stakeholders and fans are all a part of it.

TSG: In terms of MLS, did you expect a ratings bump coming out of the World Cup?

SG: No I don’t think so I think the hype of the World Cup was the hype of the World Cup.

Over time, you hope that translates into more people caring about the national team and the home league.

I don’t know if it would be fair to compare or expect the ratings to go up.

TSG: Sure, but the ratings trailed off. Was that expected…

SG: Sure, that’s something that everyone’s working on. People working at MLS, at ESPN…finding out ways to resonate more with fans.

That’s an important part of the puzzle and something we’re challenged by.

Beckham....job well done?

TSG: Did David Beckham have the impact off the field for MLS that was expected?

SG:  Yes, I think so. David’s gotten a lot of people aware about the game and the league and that’s a success.

TSG: [Sunil is about to be pulled away] Last one, and I know you’re going to answer this diplomatically. A potential game winning penalty kick, who takes it. Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey?

SG: Wow. That’s a tough one. I think Bob’s answer on that is the same as mine, the player’s get to sort it out on the field. I think that’s a circumstantial one. Who’s tired? Who’s been fouled?

And If they miss hopefully we get a retake and the other one will knock it in.

——–

Sunil Gulati, President of US Soccer.

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40 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Joe on 2011/02/09 at 10:39 PM

    Excellent as always… now.. if you can get to the CEO of US Soccer- Daniel Flynn… then ill be impressed. lol

    Reply

  2. Posted by Soccernst on 2011/02/09 at 11:44 PM

    TSG raises the bar again.

    Well, almost raised the bar: “Sunil, if (God forbid) you were in a bar fight, who would you want by your side: Blazer, Warner, or Salguero?”

    Reply

  3. Posted by Crow on 2011/02/10 at 7:09 AM

    Sunil is a loser. That is all.

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  4. Posted by Crow on 2011/02/10 at 7:14 AM

    What does Sunil mean when he says to congratule Qatar? (is that a bad thing?)- I kid. I’m glad you interviewed him in an unbiased way. I could not have done the same. I wish he’d at least open up a bit more in some of his answers, but of course that is “not in the best interests of anyone”.

    Reply

  5. Posted by EFG on 2011/02/10 at 7:17 AM

    Great stuff. Sure it is canned responses, but coupled with the earlier piece that was more “off the cuff” I think it gives a better picture of Sunil.

    Reply

  6. [...] The Shin Guardian talks to US Soccer president Sunil Gulati. [...]

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  7. Posted by Tabare on 2011/02/10 at 8:15 AM

    1. There have been to my view three big goals for Sunil. Get the best possible coach for the men’s national team. Win the right to host the World Cup. Take innovative steps to improve youth development.

    2. Sunil is a decent guy, but a mediocre head of US Soccer. There have been no disasters. But there have been no great successes either.

    3. I had an email exchange with Sunil a year or so ago. I promised him flowers if he got a world class coach for the next cycle. The name I invoked was Hiddink. Sunil had the patience and courtesy to respond. But the response was essentially “I appreciate your passion, look how well the team is doing under Bob Bradley.”

    4. From where I sit the Bob Bradley re-hire encapsulates much of what’s wrong. Limited vision at US Soccer. A coach who is obsessive and detail oriented but not really that “soccer smart.”

    5. The litany on Bob Bradley: He gets the line-up against Ghana woefully wrong. He plays Onyewu when the latter is not fit — costing us the two goals against Slovenia. Bradley integrates Davies only when injury forces his hand. Bradley doesn’t really recognize what he’s got in Holden until Owen Coyle shows him. Bradley doesn’t know how or when to use Jose Torres. Findley in the World Cup was another mistake — but an amusing one.

    I actually like what I see of Bradley the man. I just don’t see how Sunil can think this is an acceptable route for the coming years.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2011/02/10 at 8:59 AM

      I don’t know any world class coaches that will work for $500,000 a year. Do you? On the bang-for-buck scale Bradley rates pretty well–he’s an average coach, and average is worth a lot more than people realize: the distribution of coaching quality is towards many, many bad coaches. Worst of all is when a bad coach has a fancy name and a fancy pedigree (e.g. Carlos Quieroz).

      Also: the youth development stuff–that’s all USSDA. Given the number of homegrown players, and number of youth players moving to Europe, I’d say the early returns are decent.

      And, one specific point: 5. Bradley knows exactly what he has in Holden. Bradley fast-tracked Holden after the 2009 Gold Cup and gave him critical minutes in the Mexico qualifier at Azteca. The only reason Holden didn’t get more time was de Jong. If you think Bradley should have done more with Holden, that’s just empty revisionism: no one thought Holden should have been doing more with the USMNT after the World Cup–Holden was barely mentioned.

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      • Posted by Crow on 2011/02/10 at 10:21 AM

        Not true! I have been begging for Stu to get more time (especially in the middle of the pitch!) since/during the 2009 Gold Cup. I know others have been as well.

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      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/10 at 12:34 PM

        Good interview Matt. Sunilis forever the political spin doctor, isn’t he? I guess some of those questions should be re-asked after he steps day as USSF President. He can hardly answer truthfully when he still works within the org. and side by side with many of the people…

        I have been critical of Bradley. In hindsight, some of it very fair, and some of it not so. But one question I keep asking myself is: even if you did have a new coach, what would you expect him to do differently with the same set of players?

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        • Posted by Jared on 2011/02/10 at 12:46 PM

          Sunil is quite tough to get any kind of answer from. I think his term in charge has to be viewed as a failure due to the WC bid and the rehiring of Bob Bradley. He seems to have been very naive when it comes to the FIFA bidding process.

          George, I would expect Bob Bradley to not use guys that aren’t any good. See his use of Robbie Findley and Ricardo Clark at the World Cup. Clark was so bad early on that he was replaced with Edu. Then Clark returns in the knockout stages and is so bad that he is pulled in the first half. The first friggin half which you never see in soccer. I would also like to see him try combinations that don’t involve his son in midfield. How about a midfield 3 of Edu, Jones and Holden? I’m not saying that Michael isn’t a good player but I think that Holden brings a lot of the stuff Michael does with an ability to pass the ball.

          It will be interesting to see what happens if the US doesn’t win the Gold Cup which is a very real possibility. Does Sunil then get rid of Bradley for failing one of their main goals of Confed Cup qualification? Hiddink would be available next year probably as I think his contract with Turkey is just through Euro 2012 (maybe even sooner if they don’t qualify).

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        • Posted by dth on 2011/02/10 at 1:10 PM

          Ricardo Clark: so bad he’s on a Bundesliga club. Wait a second…

          And get Hiddink out of your mind. His last known paycheck with Russia was around 6 million euros, tax-free. The U.S. gives Bradley $500k.

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        • Posted by Jared on 2011/02/10 at 2:14 PM

          Just because he’s on a Bundesliga club doesn’t make him good. Eddie Johnson has been with Fulham in the Premier League for several years and he can’t score goals even on loan. Just because a club in a certain league signs a player doesn’t make him good. Clark had no business being on the field against Ghana because he wasn’t good enough in the group stages. Are you really going to argue that he wasn’t bad at the World Cup?

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        • Posted by dth on 2011/02/10 at 2:23 PM

          No. I’m just saying Clark is a pretty good player. Edu is about as good as Clark is, when both are on form, though they offer different things. Clark wasn’t on form in the World Cup, but given that he’d only played the England game before the Ghana appearance in the World Cup, and given that some midfield power was needed to counter the combination of Annan, Boateng, and Asamoah, starting Clark wasn’t as ridiculous a decision as everyone wants to make it out to be. The real blunder was starting Findley despite the obvious success the 4-2-3-1 formation had had since the second half of the Slovenia game (and the obvious success it had in the second half of the Ghana game).

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        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/10 at 2:34 PM

          I agree, in friendlies, I would like to see other midfield combinations too for experimentation purposes – but not to drop Michael Bradley for the sake of it or because he is the manager’s son, but to drop Michael Bradley or any other player for that matter, when his / their form dips. No player should be untouchable.

          Sometimes players make the most basic mistakes in an important match, which is sometimes beyond the manager’s sphere of influence [see Robert Green 12-Jun-2010].

          And just because Golden Guus is out of contract, how do you know that he’d we willing to take over? All well and good bandying around these coach’s names, but are they realistic targets given the budget of USSF?

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        • Posted by Kevin on 2011/02/10 at 7:32 PM

          Jared – Why can’t both be in at the same time? They are clearly our two best central midfielders, and they both bring something different to the table. They can both perform the tasks of defending and attacking, although in a different manner. IMO Bradley is very good vertically, but has the composure and intelligence to know you can not just run up and down the field like a typical box to box midfielder. Holden doesn’t stay as far back when defending and for good reason because he doesn’t have the speed or stamina to make cover as much of the field as Bradley. If they can develop an understanding of when to attack or cover as a CM pairing then they would make a great base to the midfield.

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        • Posted by Martin on 2011/02/11 at 12:22 AM

          Jared,
          You should study Hiddink’s career.
          1. He takes situations where he has the kind of control the USSF would not give to Klinsi.
          2. He gets paid a LOT more than what BB now makes.
          3. He finds situations where there is a lot of raw talent and a good team just waiting to be organized and led. It’s debatable whether the US talent pool is up to what Hiddink would see as suitable for him.
          4. He usually does not stay very long; the new Bora Milutinovic.

          He is a fine manager but there is no reason for him to take the US job now, maybe later after he’s made enough money to buy a small country and needs one more challenge before retiring. The US job is not seen as desirable by most top flight foreign managers. Many foreigner observers will tell you Arena and Bradley have done a fine job with the US but you’ll notice how many European jobs it got them.

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        • Posted by Jared on 2011/02/11 at 5:40 AM

          I do know what Hiddink has done as a manager. The fact that he doesn’t stay for long would work perfectly if Bradley was sacked after losing the Gold Cup. Hiddink would then have 2 years before the next World Cup.

          The control and money issues are problems. US Soccer isn’t going to give up control but they shouldn’t have given it up for Klinsmann. US Soccer has the money or can get the money from say Nike to pay Hiddink.

          Guess I should have posted before that Hiddink would be my dream replacement. Not a very realistic choice though. I’m sure the next guy will be Jason Kreis or someone along those lines.

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      • Posted by Tabare on 2011/02/11 at 6:31 AM

        On money and managers I agree: I know of zero top coaches who will sign for a few hundred thousand dollars. The call to hire a top coach has also always been a call to loosen the purse strings.

        On Holden I disagree: reasonable observers thought Holden should have featured more — before his recent successes in England.

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    • Posted by Crow on 2011/02/10 at 10:24 AM

      I love this post- I almost agree with everything stated 100%. Bob does seem like a nice guy and a decent coach, but he is limited. The use of Ricardo Clark is probably his cardinal sin. If Sunil didn’t hide behind canned responses, I believe that there would actually be less viritol directed towards him. Just for once, I’d like things at the USSF to be a little more transparent.

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    • Posted by Martin on 2011/02/11 at 12:03 AM

      Tabare,

      One interestng thing about Sunil as it relates to your expectations of him, the USSF has a Board that makes the decisions; there are 15 votes to be counted. Sunil is the President, the front man and has, get this, one vote. I’ve always assumed the other 14 would probably just follow him but the Klinsmann fiasco put that to rest. Clearly, Gulati wanted Klinsmann otherwise he would not have initiated talks again and negotiated a deal with him. Clearly Sunil and JK thought they had a deal. Just as clearly they both got shot down, blindsided and humilated. If Gulati didn’t think he had the necessary votes from the board he never would have gone as far with JK as he did. So the next interviews should be with the “silent” 14. Oh and your comments on Holden are off base. Holden hadn’t proved he could play at a very high level until Bolton, after the World Cup. He is doing well but he still hasn’t proven he deserves a bigger role than he has had in a USMNT shirt. Two different teams.

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      • Posted by Tabare on 2011/02/11 at 6:23 AM

        On Holden: I do see what you are saying.

        But there’s something circular in the argument. Coach Sweats will not give some players an opportunity until they prove themselves elsewhere. Hence they remain unproven in the short term.

        For critics, this is evidence of Bob Bradley’s excessive conservatism as a coach.

        When we’ve got the example of Holden the question is:

        “Did Coach Sweats need Holden’s quality ratified by Owen Coyle and the Premiership? Did several years of close observation and training camps not provide enough evidence of Holden’s quality?”

        Yes, Holden featured. But very intermittently. My view is that Holden, like other players, has forced Bob Bradley’s hand. Not the that Bradley has done much to fast-track or develop the player.

        My two cents…

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        • Posted by dth on 2011/02/11 at 8:28 AM

          That’s not true at all. To me, going from:

          2009 Gold Cup
          to
          2009 Azteca minutes

          is a sign that Bradley knows what he’s got in Holden. Bradley took Holden from a rinky-dink tournament and inserted him into the match USMNT fans have most wanted to win since forever. That’s confidence. For contrast–Holden played basically the same number of minutes as Clark in 2009. Then Holden got injured early 2010, which threw off his form. Bradley reintegrated Holden at the earliest available opportunity–the fall 2010 friendlies. Bradley likes Holden and there’s no other way to interpret that data given the context.

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        • Posted by Martin on 2011/02/11 at 11:35 AM

          Tabare,

          There is nothing “circular” about Holden’s situation with the USMNT. Play for the US like you do for Bolton and you get more time. He hasn’t done that yet. His performance has been intermittent.

          Holden was making a logical progression with the USMNT. His parallel club career really only took off after the World Cup.

          Holden first made his big mark on the USMNT in the B team 2009 Gold Cup. From there BB put him in the Mexico game at Azteca where outside of one very dangerous cross, Holden did okay not great. Since that game Holden has been, just looking at his US performances, okay not great. As you say, intermittent. You want more time you do something awesome in your 10 minutes or whatever.

          Just before the Netherlands game where he broke his leg it seemed like BB was going to give him a larger role and De Jong obviously put a hold on that.

          He has played in two games for the US since he started his great run at Bolton, Poland and Colombia. He started both and got subbed out in the Colombia game at the 59th minute. Against Poland he looked good; against Colombia not so good.Intermittent. Based on that it’s clear Bradley plans a bigger role for Stu than he has had him.

          So it’s not just a question of taking this great Bolton player, plugging him into the USMNT and instantly they become World beaters. We’re not talking C. Ronaldo or Iniesta here.

          The other thing to remember about Holden is, he’s doing well and is talented but, among other things, he’s also very lucky. He has found a manager who happened to have a system that needed a guy just like Stu. Coyle believes in him and also has the other players to support Holden and the system. And it’s only one season. He needs to prove consistency over time ( see Dempsey, Clint), a concept alien to most US fans, largely grass is greener types, who always instantly love the backup QB or the new kid in town.

          There are plenty of things to criticize about BB but his handling of Holden isn’t one of them.

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        • On the Holden argument taking place, I think one thing has been omitted from all the commentary. Holden’s form at Bolton can be attributed to many things, the system/the coach’s confidence in him/supporting playrs/etc. but no one has mentioned that for Bolton he plays centrally and for the US he plays outside or as more of an inverted Arjen Robben type winger.

          I’m not comparing his skill set to Robben, but his positioning and tendency to drift inwards though 40 yards sooner. This, in my opinion, is the reason for the lackluster displays in the US shirt. Sure he’s not taking his opportunities, but he’s also not being fully utilized out on the wings since he’s not going to break down his man one-on-one, and he’s not the traditional byline and cross it winger.

          You can’t blame Bradley 100%, but what do you expect a centrally minded player to do when out on the wing? Would he put his son out there, and if so would you expect Baby Bradley to morph into David Beckham or CRon? My ideal formation to incorporate both Bradley and Holden would have an inverted triangle in the middle with Jones at the tip protecting the back four and Holden and Bradley given free-rein. Note: I’d also like to see the midfield without Baby Bradley once in a while.

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  8. Posted by Crow on 2011/02/10 at 10:36 AM

    Next interviews I’d like to see-

    (1) An interview with someone from ESPN or FSC explaining what is going on with MLS TV rights negotiations, and plans for the future to expand the broadcast of foreign soccer leagues. I’d also like to know that the USMNT will not be “blackout” when they are playing road WCQ games this next cycle.

    (2) An interview with Clint Dempsey, Stuart Holden, and/or Danny Mwanga.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/02/10 at 11:20 AM

      We’ve been declined for interviews with Fox Soccer execs for over four months now. Their PR team is very difficult to deal with.

      ESPN is easier to deal with and we’ll try to re-engage there.

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  9. Posted by Carlos on 2011/02/10 at 11:54 AM

    “TSG: I’m sure, but one thing that I thought was interesting was…well tt was odd for me to hear the strikers singled out after World Cup. It seemed out of context for a US team that always focuses on quote “team.”

    SG: I don’t think it was put out as a challenge. It was more put out as a statistical fact of the last seven games.

    Look it’s a strange circumstance. For example, against Ghana we could have had a striker instead of Landon and today it could have been a midfielder.

    I don’t want to get too caught up that.”

    I do not understand the point Sunil was trying to make with this comment.

    Reply

    • Posted by John on 2011/02/10 at 12:39 PM

      My guess is that he was indicating that since Landon scored a PK that any player could have scored from that position. Which, to be certain, is an argument…. even implausible as it is that anyone else would have taken it.

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      • Posted by chazcar2 on 2011/02/10 at 12:52 PM

        What? You didn’t want Robbie Findley to take PK’s from now on?

        But the whole “Striker Drought” thing is highly over played.

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  10. Nice interview, Matt. Too bad Sunil kept bobbing and weaving all the time. I think I’d have wanted to slap him, so kudos for the restraint you showed.

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  11. Interesting interview. Sunil certainly is adept at avoiding stirring up any sort of controversy with his answers.

    Am I in the minority who believes that re-hiring Bob Bradley was a good decision? I’ll admit I was a little disappointed when I heard the news, but more because I thought it would be interesting to see how a potential replacement would do things, not so much because Bradley didn’t deserve it.

    In my opinion, Bradley did exactly what he was expected to do: lead the USA past the group stages of the 2010 World Cup. He may have just barely done so, but the fact remains that he did. He also went beyond expectations at times: advancing to the Confederations Cup final, and winning the group stage in South Africa, for example. I’m not always a fan of Bradley’s decisions or his coaching style, but I think he deserved an extension at the helm of the national team.

    That said, if the USA doesn’t meet Sunil’s big two benchmarks for success this year – winning the Gold Cup and qualifying for the Confederations Cup – I think it may be time to revisit Bradley’s tenure.

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    • Posted by jb on 2011/02/10 at 4:00 PM

      If you’re in the minority then I’m there with you. As someone mentioned before, what were the other realistic choices? I think BB is an excellent leader of men. If he is only average with tactics then I would argue that he’s shown considerable improvement over the last four years, even (I think) seeming to understand it’s time to transition to a more midfield-oriented formation.

      What will be interesting is to see what the USSF does if Bradley takes a position overseas or simply gets tired of the USSF and the criticism and walks.

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    • Posted by Kevin on 2011/02/10 at 7:49 PM

      I don’t really think it’s a bad decision, but I’m not thrilled about it either. We know what we have with Bradley, although sometimes, or a lot of times, frustrating, he get’s the job done. The only real problem I have with Bradley is that he is average. Like I said average isn’t bad, but it would be nice to know who else they were looking at. I would be much happier to know that USSF is shooting for good/great and falling back to average, than if I thought they just wanted average.

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    • Posted by mbw on 2011/02/10 at 9:32 PM

      Devil’s advocate: Bradley actually has a very impressive record. He won the Gold Cup in 2007 (as he was expected to) and got through qualifying with ease; at the Confederations Cup in 2009 the USMNT caught a bit of a break with the Brazil-Italy result, took advantage, and was one half away from winning the tournament. Between June 2009 and June 2010, Bradley lost Charlie Davies and basically lost Gooch; the two most promising additions, Jones and Holden, were either unable to play or not match-sharp; and Howard and Bocanegra might not have been at 100% either. Injuries happen, but that was a pretty tough hand to be dealt, and the US pool doesn’t yet have the depth to absorb that kind of situation. And yet Bradley’s team still met its pre-tournament goal.

      Maybe a better tactical coach would have done better. We don’t know. And I don’t think a coach should be able to “earn” an extension anyway. But that’s not an inconsiderable list of achievements.

      Reply

  12. Posted by Martin on 2011/02/11 at 3:10 PM

    Nick,
    Re: the Holden in the center argument,

    Prior to his Bolton run, Holden fans were clamoring for BB to push Clint up top and replace him with Holden,to which I replied using your argument. Holden himself has said he can’t keep from leaving his wing position and looking for the ball in the middle like he did in the Colombia game and therby clogging up the middle something awful.

    Bradley hasn’t had a lot of time to experiment with the various central combinations of Holden, MB, Jones and Edu so everyone should just slow down a minute. God forbid we somehow come up with another really good central midfielder.

    Reply

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