Bob Bradley Starts Talking Gold Cup

US Coach Bob Bradley, Fifa style.

Bob Bradley snuck into a Detroit Free-Press piece three days ago on the first Gold Cup game in Detroit:

“I would say that, for sure, there’s a nucleus of good players that will continue to be there for us — Timmy Howard, Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo and Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley and Landon (Donovan). I think there’ll be a strong carryover for our team that was in South Africa, but at the same time we’ve begun the process of introducing some new players.

“Juan Agudelo has started and has had some initial success. Timmy Chandler played well in these last two, against Argentina and Paraguay, and I think (he) is an exciting player moving forward. It’s all about transition, and all of that has been done with a real eye for putting together the best roster possible for the Gold Cup.

“Tim Ream, who also plays for the Red Bulls, is a player that now has come into our team and I thought did well in these last games.”

TSG: The TSG read? Michael Bradley is the point person in the middle, independent of injuries or playing time. You’re going to see Juan Agudelo, Tim Ream, Timmy Chandler on the Gold Cup roster–though there was little doubt those players would be there. The whole article can be found here.

More: Bradley’s Clipboard: Gold Cup Roster Addition

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68 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Byrdman on 2011/05/17 at 5:09 PM

    So Michael Bradley will always play 90 minutes as long as Bob Bradley is the coach of the USMNT. Imagine that. No matter what you say about his abilities and European success in various seasons. If Bob wasn’t the coach, He would not play 90 minutes every night. He just wouldn’t. I’m sorry. I’m not saying he isn’t worthy of playing a lot or even starting. But lets be honest. No matter how good or bad he plays, HE PLAYS. End of story. Its not good for the USMNT.

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    • Posted by Jim S on 2011/05/17 at 5:26 PM

      Completely agree. For someone who always claimed that he sees his son no differently on the field as any other player, this just stinks of nepotism. Sorry bob, but if playing favorites isn’t going to win us the gold cup. We have plenty of midfielders who are getting playing time and producing results ahead of your son. In fact, I’d rather see JSpec in the central mid before Michael right now. I know don’t play the same role, but edu, jones and specs could run the full 90, and have all been playing well. Time for the family benefits to end and for bob to take his job seriously.

      Reply

      • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/05/17 at 6:24 PM

        I’ll gladly take a rusty MB over Specs in the midfield, thanks.

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      • Posted by Martin on 2011/05/18 at 4:06 PM

        You guys should read the Detroit Free Press article before commenting:

        BB was asked about the team:

        “I would say that, for sure, there’s a nucleus of good players that will continue to be there for us — Timmy Howard, Carlos Bocanegra and Steve Cherundolo and Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley and Landon (Donovan). I think there’ll be a strong carryover for our team that was in South Africa, but at the same time we’ve begun the process of introducing some new players.”

        Nowhere does he say anything about MB playing all 90 minutes or even being guaranteed a place. He does put MB on the same class as those other guys and MB deserves that place.

        MB is part of the nucleus of this team going forward. He’s earned it and he is also the youngest of that group of players.

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  2. Posted by Byrdman on 2011/05/17 at 8:09 PM

    Just to clarify, I am not saying MB isn’t good enough to play, but he shouldn’t be the automatic inclusion that BB has made him. He isn’t playing, and I don’t think it sends a good message to other guys. I personally don’t think he is our best center mid. He doesn’t have good vision and his touch and passes are below average. I can’t tell you how many times I have watched him, watch his mark make a pass, and then he follows the ball, all the while his mark is breaking for box. The 1-2 always works when MB is on the ball. Example is the goal that Costa Rica scored in the first half last year in C.R. Torres turned the ball over, MB squared up on man with the ball. He makes a pass and breaks behind MB and ends up scoring on a blistering shot just inside the box. Everyone blamed Torres, and he did turn it over. But MB didn’t, and doesn’t, stay with his marks. Next time they suit up, watch and see if I’m right

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  3. Posted by corky on 2011/05/17 at 8:30 PM

    Oh Lord, the MB nepotism discussion again. I think Bob should try Edu and Jones in the center just to shut everyone up — if you think we’re all of a sudden going to turn into world beaters with those two in the center, you are off your rocker.

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  4. Posted by Byrdman on 2011/05/17 at 8:46 PM

    So CORKY you are saying a dad playing his son 90 minutes EVERY GAME despite other players being close if not equal or better in form and skill set is a good thing! Respectfully, my friend, it is You that may not be seated in on a reliable piece of furniture. Just saying.

    Reply

  5. Posted by USA!! on 2011/05/17 at 10:25 PM

    It really reflects badly on our country how many self-hating citizens there are out there. If we ever want to climb out of the hole we are in we have to start pulling together and start to forgive and forget. I swear even Hatian fans are more optimistic about their national team.

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    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/05/17 at 10:43 PM

      I believe you wandered over to the wrong publication. TSG is more objective than fan rag. The simple fact is, if you look at the collection of players that Bradley values, all have proven themselves at the highest level and league of the game on a consistent basis.

      Except one. Whether it’s his son or not–he could have put Mo Edu, Stu Holden or Juan Agudelo in that 1st group and that name wouldn’t have made sense.

      The funny thing is that to criticize Michael Bradley it’s seen as nepotism, yet a player like Ricardo Clark–who started nearly as many games as Bradley in WCQ and played at higher level club–is deemed irrelevant.

      That’s what’s mind-boggling.

      Reply

    • USA!! – It’s not that hundreds/thousands of us (TSG commenter/reader and otherwise) have a true dislike of Baby Sweats; the kid bust his ass everytime he pulls on out shirt. However, as others point out here and elsewhere he does have his flaws and limitations. Given these flaws and limitations, and now lack of playing time at his club, we find it difficult to swallow that he’s a lock for 90 minutes when there are others who have similar (enough) skill sets and have been playing week-in and week-out.

      Coming up to the most important set of matches this calendar year and it would make sense to most coaches to go with the guys who are match fit/sharp, not those who’ve been relegated to a spot with the reserves. If it were me coaching the Nats, I’d give a couple other Center Mids a run out in the Canada game seeing as they should be our toughest opponenet and work MB back in so everyone’s available for the knock-out stages. But we all know that this won’t happen…

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  6. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/05/18 at 5:56 AM

    The point being made is not, NO Michael Bradley for the USMNT OR MB sucks and shouldn’t ever sniff the field. The point being made, with increasing validity the more that Mikey fails to get minutes for his club, is that NO other MF combos can be trialed that don’t automatically include MB. Now with Holden out the discussion is kind of moot but…the greater issue I have is where and how Mike is deployed and his increasing tendency to play the “Gerrard”-type MF where he commands the ball sometimes at CDM and sometimes as a CAM. I think this makes it difficult on his MF partners. I’d rather see him playing behind the hole forward (Demps/Donovan) and creating havoc from the 50 forward then the Ole defending he does while of course…..expending tons of energy. Which is his calling card.

    NOTE TO EDITOR: Matt-please, please do not use Ricardo Clark as the option here. We’ve seen how that works out)))

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    • Posted by Jared on 2011/05/18 at 6:22 AM

      Wow, I never thought of the Gerrard comparison before but I think it’s a good one. Both of them always play when fit and neither of them really has a position that works particularly well for the team. They both also try to do too much and turn the ball over to the detriment of their teams as well as run around with little positional sense at times.

      Also, the US needs to be trying midfield combos that don’t involve MBDNP. I actually think that a better version of the 4-2-3-1 for the US would be Jones and Edu as the 2 with MB as the middle of the 3. That way he would be able to use the better part of his Gerrard tendencies around the box and not have the defensive responsibilities. That was when Gerrard was at his best but unfortunately the US doesn’t have a Torres up top.

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  7. Posted by corky on 2011/05/18 at 6:13 AM

    On the nepotism angle, the writers who follow the USMNT faithfully (Wahl, Davis, Carlisle) have all, at one time or another, said the nepotism angle is lazy, stupid, and wrong. So I tend to believe those guys.
    If you want to criticize MB90, the criticisms made by TSG (hospital balls, aimless running) are valid. He doesn’t deserve to start every game this summer. However, let’s be honest about his competition.
    Holden-our best MF, but he’s injured
    Jones-couldn’t get a game at Schalke, went to a crap team and played OK
    Edu-plays all the time for a good team with absolutely no depth in a crap league. Suffered a drop in form that normally would have cost him his job, but there was no one else.
    Clark-couldn’t get a game in MF, so played CB.
    All those guys deserve chances, but let’s not pretend they are studs and some massive upgrade from MB90

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    • Posted by Jared on 2011/05/18 at 6:28 AM

      I don’t particularly have faith in any of those writers to cover the USMNT with much objectivity. I’ve never found the guys that cover the USMNT to be tough on the team at all.

      Also, the reason why the nepotism angle continues to come up is because of the criticisms you mention. The only reason why a lot of people feel that someone who runs aimlessly and make hospital passes continues to go 90 is that he is the coach’s son.

      Reply

  8. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/05/18 at 6:47 AM

    it hurts to hear the criticism of bradley, both father and son. someone said junior plays even when he plays bad, but id take exception to that and say when he plays bad, maybe he picks up a red card and does not play in the next game. so he does not play if he plays bad, he is forced off. of course he did not play bad against spain, but missed the brasil game anyway. rico clark did not play to bad against spain either, but anyway.

    to be truely honest, people should infact assess whether junior would be playing under another coach and the answer to me is an obvious yes. junior was the first to play back when arena was the coach. the conspiricy theorist will have you believe ussf new bob bradley was going to follow bruce arena as coach, so junior was just getting an early grooming

    there is also the little fact that over the last four years, name me another central midfielder that has been healthy the whole time. we all know the answer to this one, but for those foreign coaches that might be interested in the job, its only one player that has been healthy the whole time and his name is not mo edu, or j jones, or s holden, it is not s kljestan, b feilhaber, or job, it is only michael bradley. oh and adu

    would it not just be swell if holden was healthy right now? i mean, for real. so maybe benny feilhaber comes back into favor over the next month stays in the mls and keeps a starting center mid from an epl coach on the sidelines. or maybe we find room for all of them and good players are coming off the bench for the us national team.

    does bradley and his huge numbers in holland correlate into auto starts? it appears so, as does his move to germany, and in the long run, it will more than likely be the same thing in the epl. (TSG EDITOR: STATEMENT REMOVED HERE BECAUSE IT’S INFLAMMATORY)

    Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2011/05/18 at 6:53 AM

      How can you say he doesn’t play when he plays badly? He plays every game that he’s not suspended. So you’re saying that MB90 has never had a bad game when he wasn’t sent off?

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      • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/05/18 at 7:50 AM

        yep, except maybe the costa rica game in saprissa, but his midfield partners in that game were torres and pablo and the formation, was not right, but coach bradley was experimenting a little, and probably wanted to shut up all the people calling for the 4-3-3, like thomas rongen. better late than never.

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        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/05/18 at 8:57 AM

          Last point. Your statement:

          does bradley and his huge numbers in holland correlate into auto starts? it appears so, as does his move to germany, and in the long run, it will more than likely be the same thing in the epl.


          Jermaine Jones, Stu Holden and Jonathan Spector all are consistent starters in the midfield in the EPL. Have they earned the same right?

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      • Posted by Martin on 2011/05/18 at 4:48 PM

        The discussion always seems to be about MB’s known flaws vs what we could theoretically get from the three main threats to MB’s PT, Edu, Jones, and Holden.

        I look at it a little differently.

        Health)- MB is rarely injured so, like it or not, he is is more often a viable alternative to those three whose medical bills, collectively, would bankrupt a team’s health care plan. Add up how many games all three have missed after they became realistic alternatives and it is pretty significant.

        Performance for the US)- MB obviously is more comfortable than the other three in a US shirt given his many games. But a large part of that is because of the aforementioned brittlness of the tentative trio. So that is not the fault of the Bradleys.

        I cannot think of any outstanding performances by any of the other three in a USMNT shirt outside of Holden’s Haiti game and his B team Gold Cup run.

        So you get into a chicken or the egg thing, every time one of the tentative trio threaten to look good or maybe have a blowout run of games, they get hurt or turn in a bad performance.

        Had Edu not spent 2009 out injured I believe he would have taken MB’s job. Now when he plays for the US he is tentative. I believe that is because he is used to being an unchallenged starter for a very big fish in a very crummy pond. And he is unchallenged not necessarily because of his play though that is good but because Rangers are broke and their regular competition couldn’t beat Chivas USA. The SPL outside of Rangers and Celtic is awful. So he missed his best chance to take the job before MB cemented his role.

        Had Jones made the World Cup and played up to expectations,as I was praying for him to do, I believe maybe he would have made a huge difference and would now be boss of the midfield. But it didn’t happen and now he follows one good game with a bad one.

        Holden is just snakebitten.

        Given all this if I’m the manager MB is my rock because, for a couple of years now, he keeps showing up ready to play and always give a more or less consistent level of performance, even if that level is below the best of what the other three can give at their best.

        With the other three I’m not so sure if they will show and what they will do when they get here. And for a National team manager who has little time for experimentation and elaborate tactics,reliability and consistency are vital.

        Besides, if all four are at the top of their game it makes little difference which central midfielder plays. All four of them are just slightly above average internationals at their best and things have a way of eventually sorting themselves out.

        Sorting out the defense is far more important than the midfield, which will take care of itself.

        Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/05/18 at 8:52 AM

      The health point made by both you and DTH is spot-on. He’s a consistent.

      As well, great point that he *should* play for another coach. In fact, the US doesn’t have that luxury, but yes that would help.

      However, you see what happens when he plays for other coaches as a great comparison. He was not on the team sheet every time for Bo’Munchen or Aston Villa. It’s a shame at Aston Villa as I think with reps Bradley could be a key cog on that team.

      I think that’s the only point people argue about. To be honest, of that list up top, Dempsey (used a sub and occasionally benched–Slovakia), Howard, and Cherundolo–all have been excluded from the team sheet from time to time on current form or to get another player reps.

      Only Landon Donovan and Michael Bradley have not.

      I’ll drop this nugget here. I’ve spoken with ex-USMNT players (pre 2008), announcers and a few coaches and they all echo the same fact.

      They all think Michael Bradley is an excellent. They all don’t go so far as to say he’s in the same class as Donovan and Dempsey (that’s their *upper bracket) and they all ask if a player who made as made disciplinary, tactical mistakes early his career would have been given as much lattitude.

      I’ve made this argument before. But frankly, it’s not even a Michael Bradley thing. It’s a Bob Bradley trust thing.

      Bradley is cautious about putting his trust in anyone. Very cautious unless they have a similar mindset. Numerous articles/books cite his challenges with managing Clint Dempsey. Once you have it though–meaning you play exclusively Bob Bradley’s way (which is what you should do on the USMNT)–you don’t lose it.

      I think Michael Bradley should be a starter 90% of the time for the Yanks, that he should be used as an advanced shut down central midfielder and that he should not be allowed to run the offense because he doesn’t have that skill.

      I think that’s very objective.

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    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/05/18 at 8:55 AM

      Continually, if you wave the fan flag for Michael Bradley you should be able to see both sides of the coin.

      Attacking those you are objective is not a good use of space on this publication.

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      • Posted by corky on 2011/05/18 at 10:58 AM

        Matt, I do wave the fan flag for Bradley, but I think you are exactly right. I enjoy your analysis.

        I just get really bothered by the nepotism angle. It’s a lazy reaction to the situation. The way you frame it — “trust” — is right on. That’s way different than nepotism.

        My other thought is, maybe just maybe, Baby Bradley is the best midfielder we have. We don’t see practice. Everyone wants to give these other guys a chance, but, really, when have they shown themselves to be better when with the Nats?

        However, I do think they really do deserve a chance this summer. I hope Coach Sweats rotates the squad. Give everyone a chance to play in their best position. Take a risk. Unfortunately, we probably won’t see it due to trust.

        Reply

        • Posted by Martin on 2011/05/18 at 4:56 PM

          “Take a risk. Unfortunately, we probably won’t see it due to trust.”

          I look at it differently. It’s clear the USSF has ordered Bradley to win the Gold Cup. So he will go with his best, not your best,his best.

          So this summer is not about 2014 or the Olympics or pleasing those of you who want to see every soccer pro with a US passport, and a pulse, who is playing abroad get a cap so you can see what the fuss is all about.

          It’s entirely about winning the Gold Cup.

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  9. Posted by dth on 2011/05/18 at 7:56 AM

    Has anyone’s opinion of the Bradleys ever been changed when nepotism comes up?

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    • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/05/18 at 8:25 AM

      yes, everytime junior has won a game for the mens team, or earned a critical point, but then tomorrow is another day.

      Reply

  10. Posted by dth on 2011/05/18 at 8:05 AM

    Also: interesting interview with Teal Bunbury…in French. http://www.topmercato.com/31306,1/la-ligue-1-suit-la-nouvelle-bombe-de-la-mls.html

    If that’s Teal speaking there, he’s very good at French–even using a few grammatical forms that you don’t usually see native French speakers using. Anyway, the upshot is that English, French, Dutch, Spanish and Turk teams have inquired as to his services.

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  11. Posted by Jake C on 2011/05/18 at 9:07 AM

    Good work postulating on a small but useful bit of evidence. I think this shows that Bradley is hopelessly tied to a nucleus of players. Not to say that they aren’t good, but Bradley is stuck if they don’t perform. The US will at best stay put while he’s coach, they won’t get better as a unit.

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    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/05/18 at 9:19 AM

      I think this is well said and again goes to the Bob Bradley trust thing.

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      • Posted by Jake C on 2011/05/18 at 10:45 AM

        Yea I didn’t read your posts on that above until after I’d written mine. Same point I think.

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  12. Posted by DC Pete on 2011/05/18 at 9:38 AM

    Keep up the great commentary on the national team!

    I have been continually surprised to see Chris Pontius’ name omitted from the discussions about potential Gold Cup spots. It’s still an outside shot, but that, to me, was what Bob Bradley was up to when he attended DC United’s last home game. Sure, he needed to see Davies for let’s call them sentimental reasons, but Davies isn’t ready for a return regardless of injury. Pontius, on the other hand, is fit for the first time since his last US camp appearance. He shows exciting flair on both sides of the ball. I think he’s a bubble player going forward. P.S. – Bradley may also have been scouting some Colorado players as well as Dejan Jakovic, whom the USA will face in the opening match.

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    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/05/18 at 9:48 AM

      Pete, you’re completely right, he now deserves some press.

      Most impressive to me is that he’s discovered he’s got some juice in his left foot.

      Pontius was too predicatable to me. After a killer 1st year, teams figured that out and along with injuries he slumped.

      I like the way he’s using both feet this year and I like the way he’s using his body. I worry–and would like to see–his speed of operations at the international level.

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  13. Posted by Byrdman on 2011/05/18 at 10:27 AM

    It’s sad to say, that it appears Charlie is a long ways from being ready. What a difference that night’s indiscretion has made in his life, and the USMNT. I’m rooting for you Charlie, but I’m worried for you.

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  14. Posted by Freegle on 2011/05/18 at 10:38 AM

    I undestand that the two are intrinsicly linked but I think people get lost in this arguement as an endictment of Michael Bradley’s quality (which in my opinion, is undeniable). Let me be clear, I believe that MB90 should not be a lock in the USA MF at this point based on the fact that he has only 124 minutes of first team club soccer in 2011 (70 cup, 54 league). However, I see the problem as more of an endictment of Bob Bradley than MB90.

    Matt you have referenced BB’s “trust” in only a certain core of players. Some people would put a negative connotation on that and call it favoritism. I think that characterization is a little strong because, for the most part, those core players are our most talented ones. However, I sometimes see that trust more as an inability/reluctance to evolve and adapt.

    Rico Clark and Sacha Kljestan were in that core of players until something egregious forced them out. On the other side, Davies and Holden need other-worldly performances to earn a legitimate look.

    That’s my biggest problem with BB… He has a tendency to react instead of anticipating and often times, react too late (see Ricardo Clark, WC2010) or at the wrong time (see the Saprissa experiment).

    That’s why I expect to see Michael Bradley in the MF in June. Not because he is “in form,” or the most talented midfielder, or even the best matchup for Canada (all very real possibilities), but because BB is unwilling or unable to adapt preemptively if he isn’t. It’s not nepotism or favoritism. It’s ineptitude.

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    • Posted by John on 2011/05/18 at 10:51 AM

      It is worth noting that Holden doesn’t need other-worldy performances to get in the lineup. He needs to stay healthy.

      He can’t make the gold cup squad because he is injured.
      He played 5 minutes in the world cup, because he was recovering from being severely injured.
      He played out wide in the qualifiers (when he did play) because he hadn’t turned in his performances at Bolton that showed his quality in the middle.

      As well keeping our perspective on Michael, let’s keep our perspective on Stu.

      I think he is great, but it isn’t Bob Bradley’s fault that he is injured.

      We can all debate Edu v Bradley, but you can’t debate Stu because… he has always been injured at the wrong time.

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      • Posted by Freegle on 2011/05/18 at 10:57 AM

        I wasnt discussing his inclusion or playing time in 2010 or currently. I was talking about their arrivals into the USMNT. My point was that guys like Stu and Davies needed to force their way into the mix with outbursts that could not be ignored. It’s not as if BB saw something in them, brought them into the system and nurtured them into National Team contributors.

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        • Posted by John on 2011/05/18 at 11:10 AM

          I’m not sure that I agree with that actually. Holden worked his way through the U – 20 and U – 23 system, developing his game with the Dynamo before he started making appearances with the Nats.

          As Wikipedia says:

          “In December 2008 Holden was called into a camp set to begin in January 2009 preceding a friendly against Sweden on January 24. He sustained a hip injury prior to the friendly and was forced to withdraw from camp.”

          He made his first appearance in July of 2009 in the Gold Cup.

          Conversely,

          Michael Bradley was already playing for the Metrostars when Holden was in College playing for Clemson. He was already a professional in Europe by the time Holden started playing for the Dynamo. I have to say that some of the “Can’t identify talent” stuff comes from people revising history for their own perceptions.

          Reply

          • Posted by Freegle on 2011/05/18 at 11:24 AM

            I’m not sure if I am being unclear or you are being obtuse and if it’s my fault, I apologize. I’m not comparing either Holden or Davies career paths to Bradley’s and I never mentioned anything about identifying talent. My point was that Bob doesn’t “let” people outside his typical regulars into the mix. They have to force their way in with outstanding performances as Davies and Holden did. On the other hand those that are part of the typical regulars, like Clark and Kljestan for example, have to make a specific mistake to lose their spot (and sometimes still do not)

            Again, I apologize for the confusion.

            Reply

            • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/05/18 at 11:45 AM

              it was my impression that davies forced his way onto the team because of injuries, then made the most of his opportunity. im not sure juan agudelo really played so outstanding that he forced his way in, it was more of his talent being identified and he has been brought along.

              jimmy johnson former coach in the nfl and college said it best, when he said he treats all his player the same, differently. if there is any confusion, what he was saying is that he treats each situation differently. and that can really rub the media and some fans the wrong way. its very obvious that it does here in the world of us soccer.

            • Posted by John on 2011/05/18 at 12:01 PM

              I guess my point is this.

              “Bob has capped 92 different players leading up to the World Cup.”

              92.

              Yes he has his core, and Yes that core group plays during the most important games. However you can’t say that he hasn’t tried a bunch of people.

              I have no problem with 5 of Bob’s 6 core players.

              Those being:
              Howard, Bocanegra and Cherundolo and Dempsey and Landon.

              Bradley for me is the one that sticks out but I understand him being considered for the core because he is seldom injured and available.

              However If I am fine with 5 of those people it means that 6 places on the National Team are up for grabs, and I think we are going to see this reflected during the gold cup. Especially against some of the weaker opponents.

              We are potentially going to see Agudelo and Bunbury, Chandler, Lichaj (Maybe), Jones in a full tournament and after playing consistently for the last few months/not being injured, Ream (maybe).

              All of those are relatively new players playing in bob’s scheme with his mostly veteran core.

              I guess I don’t see that as much of a problem. 5 or 6 relatively new players out of 11 is a pretty nice rotation to check out.

            • Posted by John on 2011/05/18 at 12:40 PM

              Incidentally in regards to the “Why didn’t Kljestan and Clark lose their position earlier”

              Well,

              Edu was injured before the confederations cup, Holden was injured before the World Cup, Jones was Injured and not allowed to play for the USA.

              After All our midfield for the confederations cup was:

              Freddy Adu, DaMarcus Beasley, Michael Bradley, Ricardo Clark, Benny Feilhaber, Sacha Kljestan , José Francisco Torres

              Not a lot of depth there. Based on those call ups and the injuries I would have been playing Clark as well. He had a horrid world cup but he wasn’t really THAT bad leading up to it.

            • Posted by dth on 2011/05/18 at 2:22 PM

              People are really letting Clark’s error against Ghana (and his hand in the England goal) cloud their judgment: Clark was pretty good in 2009 and for much of 2010 and there was really no reason to believe giving Clark a significant role in the World Cup was a colossal error. You could have a reasonable argument about who was best for the role, but really they were pretty close I think.

              In fact, if Bradley called up Clark for the Gold Cup I wouldn’t be the slightest bit angry/disturbed.

            • Posted by Martin on 2011/05/18 at 5:34 PM

              ” My point was that Bob doesn’t “let” people outside his typical regulars into the mix. They have to force their way in with outstanding performances as Davies and Holden did.”

              That is exactly how it should be. Tim Chandler for example.

              ” On the other hand those that are part of the typical regulars, like Clark and Kljestan for example, have to make a specific mistake to lose their spot (and sometimes still do not)”

              We don’t know what goes on behind the scenes and we don’t remember the good things those guys did. Besides, it’s BB’s job and he is really the only one who is positioned to know when a player’s negatives outweigh the positives.

    • Posted by Jake C on 2011/05/18 at 10:54 AM

      Matt can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think he’d agree with your points, and your points are what he brings up in the trust issue. Nat team coaches can evaluate and adapt at an extremely quick rate due to the small window of opportunity in the international calendar, and BB has been lacking in that department.

      Reply

      • Posted by Martin on 2011/05/18 at 5:26 PM

        “Nat team coaches can evaluate and adapt at an extremely quick rate due to the small window of opportunity in the international calendar, and BB has been lacking in that department.”

        What separates BB from other national team managers in that regard is he has a much smaller and shallower talent pool.

        BB has the record for most first time caps given out so he has looked at just about everyone worth looking at.

        If I’m worng on that name the USMNT elgible player who is regular starter on a potential Champion’s league contender that BB has missed out on ( besides Rossi and Subotic)?

        Or for that matter any starter at the highest level of the game who is regulalry tearing it up for his top level team?

        Brazil, France, Italy, Holland, Spain, etc.(even Ghana), the teams we will eventually have to beat at some point all have guys like that. We don’t one.

        Reply

        • Posted by Jake C. on 2011/05/18 at 8:44 PM

          I’m not talking about star players. We’ve already identified how Bradley plays all three of those. I’m talking about identifying and successfully integrating players into the fold, rather than relying on a few good ole boys for every key match, then throwing a haphazard concoction of new recruits onto the pitch and telling them to kick a ball.

          I’m not going to waste time arguing about the size/quality of the player pool, but there’s an extent to which a coach can make the team better despite lack of quality. BB isn’t that coach.

          Reply

  15. Posted by Byrdman on 2011/05/18 at 10:47 AM

    I believe Freegle has nailed the issue. THere is no question that MB90 is one of our better players, and specifically one of our better midfielders. But BB’s inability to see down the road, and respond, rather than react is the issue. By respond, I mean make a well calculated, insightful decision that evidences an advanced knowledge of the game and of his players. As one man says, “A leader: 1) sees before others see, 2) sees more than others see, and 3) sees farther than others see. In the end of the day, I don’t think BB is a leader of men. I don’t Sunil Gulati is a leader of men. But the last is another discussion, that has been beat to death. Sorry to bring it up.

    Reply

    • Posted by Freegle on 2011/05/18 at 10:52 AM

      I think that’s a little unfair. I dislike BB’s tactical choices and often his player selection, but I would not put his leadership in question. He appears to relate well to his players, defends their mistakes, and effectively fosters an environment based on mutual respect and teamwork.

      As for Sunil….. as you said, another time

      Reply

      • Posted by Byrdman on 2011/05/18 at 12:36 PM

        You may be correct. But do you think guys are thrilled that Bob is back? I’m not sure they are. All the quotes I’ve read from LD and a few others are mildly positive. But I didn’t see anyone say, “Awesome! BOB is the guy to lead us over the mountain to the promise land!”
        But maybe I’m looking for something… As you can tell I’m not a fan of BB. But I do want to be fair.

        Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/05/18 at 8:37 PM

        As a note, I think that Bob Bradley is one of the best game planners I’ve seen.

        His game plan against Argentina was excellent, even though the team absorbed a ton of pressure in the 1st half.

        Most teams sit and absorb pressure against Argentina and then hope to counter. Germany did this so well against Diego Maradona that the Germans routed them.

        But that plan really relies on your defense coming up big, because make one mistake that deep in your zone and it’s a shot ripped from a close angle.

        Bradley elected to clog up the service through midfield. Splendid game plan against Argentina, really splendid.

        That said, Bradley’s “trust” and dedication to his way sometimes stymies the creativity and ability to dictate tempo.

        It’s a flaw and I hope BB works on it.

        Reply

        • Posted by Jared on 2011/05/19 at 5:22 AM

          Really? He’s one of the best game planners you’ve seen because he did well against Argentina in a friendly? I think you’ve forgotten the 2010 World Cup when he was one of the worst game planners I’ve ever seen unless his plan was to give up early goals and have to make subs before halftime while constantly shuffling the lineup.

          Reply

          • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/05/19 at 6:47 AM

            Yes, he is. But you know what. This is a much longer column.

            Bradley is done in by two things (maybe an Op-Ed tomorrow). Irrational coach-player confidence syndrome (ICPCS) and failure to fix things before you know their broken. (Giving up early goals.)

            Good topic. And probably “best” was too aggressive.

            Reply

        • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/05/19 at 7:06 AM

          maybe a refresher course is needed. usa world cup qualifing under coach bradley started with a drubbing of barbados, where our boy deuce put usa up after like 90 seconds. game two of this home and home saw dmb playing a lone striker.

          everyone remembers the first guatemala game, lil stevie picked up a silly red, when he got toasted and fortunately the american beckham took one for the team. then a tough game in cuba was followed by a beating of tandt. the big rfk beatdown on cuba saw torres coming into the fold and adu and some young players. then they young players went down to tandt and got beat. perhaps their creativity was being stymied.

          the last game was an interesting one, it was a nice win at home against guatemala, where john thorrington played “right back”, or maybe the usa was playing a 3-5-2

          next up, yes, mexico and a two nil win with two nails at the end of each half from mr. junior. this takes us to just about the midway point of qualifing and this all came after coach bradley won the gold cup.

          coach bradley mixed it up all during qualifing and during his whole tenure. saying otherwise really needs to be debated.

          Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/05/20 at 10:47 AM

          Just because Argentina didn’t score in the first half, doesn’t mean that you ” absorbed pressure”… how can you say that with the chances they had to score? Ridiculous statements like that will lose you credibility.

          However, the fact that they didn’t take their chances, is not the US’s fault. That’s entirely different. But not the same as absorbing pressure.

          Reply

  16. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/05/18 at 11:01 AM

    it is kind of funny that on one hand this is a team sport and teams by nature have to have cohesion, yet on the other hand, there is this contingent that is bent on coaching from the stands. what i hear people saying, is that the coach should be looking at more players.

    trust issues, with who, the players or some of the fans. eric lehigh moved to a good leeds team and could not hold down a right back spot, so they moved him to the left, now these fans are clammoring for him at left back. whose got the trust issues, the fans calling for this player, or the coach?

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/05/18 at 11:32 AM

      Not sure how Eric Lichaj gets in the picture here.

      Bob–per the article–mentioned his nucleus. That’s one style of coaching. Some coaches say, “No player’s position is guaranteed.” Other coaches’ — Bill Parcels in the NFL coming to mind — say they have “their guys.”

      The above list would appear to be Bob Bradley’s “his guys.”


      The world of media wouldn’t exist if fans and media didn’t discuss sports.

      Nobody here is qualified to be the authority on exactly what should happen with the USMNT — that’s kind of what makes this fun, the debating.

      Just like nobody here is qualified to give the most authoritative opinion on Eric Lichaj at Leeds who’s contract was continually extended at Leeds, who earned raves from the fans (see the reports) and who only moved to leftback when George McCartney got injured for them.

      That’s not called can’t “hold down a right back spot” –that’s called being a team player.

      Reply

      • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/05/18 at 11:53 AM

        good point matthew, the usa does need more team players, who are able to work as a cohesive unit, which is called the us mens team.
        lichaj is pretty good, but the fact are that he arrived at a strong leeds team and they still failed to secure even a spot in the playoffs. lichaj is a defender who is pretty strong getting forward, but his defense is so so. leeds needed more defense to get into the playoffs and they just were not able to muster it, even with two up and coming players from a villa in lichaj and bannan.

        Reply

  17. Posted by Jim S on 2011/05/18 at 12:21 PM

    It’s very interesting to read everyone’s opposing views, but it seems as though most people in an effort to keep their comments short have been misinterpreted.

    First, i was the one who mentioned nepotism first and people got all upset. I’d like to clarify myself. It’s not the I don’t believe he deserves a spot on the team, but we have other players who have earned a shot to start in the middle ahead of him. Yes, he would be chosen by arena, and possibly the next coach, but that doesn’t earn you the starting role. I really like the Gerrard comparison because he really is a workhorse, but he really doesn’t fit in with BB scheme, except he works his tail off for 90 min. I actually wish we had a difference manager who could settle him down and get him to play within a system because I feel he would be more effective that way. It believe part of his pay is derived from the fact that he feels he always has to prove himself to his father every time he steps on the field and that sometimes leads to bad decisions/fould, aimless wandering, but it has also led to some hard earned goals. So in conclusion, I think he should get a spot, but he shouldn’t be starting.

    Lastly, most people who comment here on the USMNT are fans who would love more than anything to see us acheive the same type of success in international competitions as the top powers do. We all recognize it’s going to take time, but yet we all like to discuss how we would do the job if we were the manager. So alot of the comment are opinions which are based on the own intellectual viewpoints, and though may not be the dominant opinion it doesn’t mean they should be criticized or demeaned any more or less for it. Who know we could look back at some of these comments in 5 years and realize that one person was right. The fact remains, the most loyal supporters are most often the most critical because the want to see their team perform well. And I think most people hear would agree, this team could be doing much better than they are, and that frustration leads to people trying to find answers, which come out as opinions on this blog. Thanks to everyone who offers the intelligent and though-provoking (and sometimes humorous) posts we read here (especially the writers, plaudits well deserved).

    Reply

    • Posted by Byrdman on 2011/05/18 at 12:40 PM

      Well said Jim S!

      Reply

    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/05/18 at 1:21 PM

      I’m glad Jim’s finally gotten this right and can move on to what the new kit should look like. In summary, MB:
      -Should start every game in MF because he’s rarely injured and gives 100%
      -Is a very MF good player whose positional discipline and passing make him a questionable automatic inclusion in the USMNT CMF role
      -Could benefit by having a more disciplined role but his current coach, also his Dad, hasn’t provided that
      -Attacks the box with ferocity and scores goals in big spots.
      -Is not playing hardly at all for his club team which according to BB’s prior WCQ comments should significantly impact his MNT minutes.
      -Has been rumored to have harmed kittens “just because he felt like it”…
      -Should be automatically included since he is the best available talent in that role

      There. That about wraps up the discussion. (one of those is made up…)

      Reply

  18. Posted by Matt B on 2011/05/18 at 2:56 PM

    Being from Detroit, I’m just shocked to see the Free Press actually covering soccer and being used as a source on a real soccer site. If this continues, it might not take 17 years to get another game!

    Reply

  19. Posted by nauta on 2011/05/19 at 7:51 AM

    MB has been a pretty solid player for the usmnt, regardless of his dad being the coach, he works hard in the mid field. He has also come through with some crunch time goals. He has a good reputation overseas only that he has not been getting much playing time at Aston Villa, with that said many players use the national team appearances to get noticed by clubs, so they put on their best performances then specially the players looking for transfers or to be played more.

    Reply

  20. Posted by dth on 2011/05/20 at 4:15 PM

    I thought US Soccer putting out previous Gold Cup rosters and listing some factoids was a useful thing to look at: http://goo.gl/EJmpr

    Let’s ignore the 2009 Gold Cup roster for obvious reasons and focus on the 2007 one and compare to TSG’s projected 2011 roster. The average age of the 2007 roster was 25.86 years, roughly. The average goalkeeper age was 29.3. The average defender age was 25.125. The average midfielder age was 25.25. The average forward age was 26. According to US Soccer the average # of caps was 26. That’s the “experience” part. Then there’s the teams they played for. Let’s take the traditional big 5 countries–i.e. England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain–and count the number of guys who played in the top flights of those leagues in the season leading up to the Gold Cup. The 2007 Gold Cup roster featured 7 players like that, though Jay DeMerit’s Watford team–a traditional Championship club–spent one solitary season in the EPL in 2006-7. The “other Euros” category includes Frank Simek for Sheffield Wednesday, Onyewu for Standard, Beasley for Eindhoven and Michael Bradley for Heereenveen. Three of the four players ended up moving up leagues by the end of the cycle. There were 12 MLS players.

    OK, now let’s look at TSG’s version of the roster. The average GK age is 32. I’ll count both Spector and Chandler as “defenders” for the purposes of this exercise, which produces an average age of 27.3…The average midfielder age is 26.14. The average forward age is 22.5. That works out to an average age of, roughly, 26.7. Caps-wise–(I’ve elected to count Jones’s friendly caps with Germany)–the roster averages out to 33.56 caps/player. I suspect that this roster has more polarization on it than the 2007 roster (i.e. more players with tons of caps and more players with very few). Leagues-wise, we’re talking about 10 players in the top leagues–I’ve counted both Guzan and Altidore as .5 a top-league player owing to their mixed league experience this year. If you only allow one goalkeeper per roster to be counted in our count, that has 8.5 top-5 players for our 2011 version and 6 for the 2007 version. The “other leagues” count is interesting. We have two players in Mexico whereas we had zero before. In Europe, we have Sacha Kljestan in Belgium with Anderlecht, Maurice Edu with Rangers, Clarence Goodson with Brøndby and Alejandro Bedoya with Örebro. Of the four, three are with the big clubs of their league; only Eindhoven in the 2007 version really rates as a traditional big club in the Netherlands.

    Overall, I find the defenders list in 2011 to be disturbing. It’s older than its 2007 counterpart, but I’m not sure it’s any better at defending. In terms of young prospects, you have Timmy Chandler and Tim Ream and that’s it. I’m only really excited about Chandler’s prospects (in terms of high ceiling–I think Ream can reach a Clarence Goodson type of ceiling). It’s also not clear that the cavalry is coming re: defenders. (Then again, it’s also not clear the cavalry is coming re: creative midfielders either, but at least there are identifiable young players in very good positions e.g. Mix Diskerud.) About the only places the cavalry is identifiably coming are goalkeeper, right back, and deep-lying midfielders who aren’t deep-lying playmakers.

    Reply

  21. Posted by Martin on 2011/05/21 at 8:04 AM

    “Overall, I find the defenders list in 2011 to be disturbing. It’s older than its 2007 counterpart, but I’m not sure it’s any better at defending. In terms of young prospects, you have Timmy Chandler and Tim Ream and that’s it. I’m only really excited about Chandler’s prospects (in terms of high ceiling–I think Ream can reach a Clarence Goodson type of ceiling). It’s also not clear that the cavalry is coming re: defenders. (Then again, it’s also not clear the cavalry is coming re: creative midfielders either, but at least there are identifiable young players in very good positions e.g. Mix Diskerud.) About the only places the cavalry is identifiably coming are goalkeeper, right back, and deep-lying midfielders who aren’t deep-lying playmakers.”

    If I were the USMNT manager I think you and I would have a different perspective.

    My concern would be entirely with the Gold Cup and the player pool for that is pretty much set. Winning that buys me more job security and also buys me a perfect dress rehearsal tournament in the 2013 Confed cup. It also means I then have two years to build towards 2014.

    In soccer that is an eternity. One year ago did anyone think Agudelo and Chandler would look this promising?

    If I lose the Gold Cup things get much harder.

    Reply

    • Posted by Ufficio on 2011/05/21 at 8:11 AM

      Also, I don’t feel too bad about our prospects at center back. There’s no one player that’s clearly one the path to international standout, but there are enough decent prospects that it’s not unreasonable to hope that a couple of them will pan out.

      Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2011/05/21 at 10:51 AM

      I agree, the concern should entirely be on the Gold Cup. And it’s very concerning that the defensive pool is older than it was four years ago, with the commensurate decline in athleticism, with little apparent increase in savvy to make up for it. Long-term, it’s a worry that at the moment there are very few clear-cut prospects as there are for other positions.

      Reply

  22. Posted by Ufficio on 2011/05/21 at 12:52 PM

    So what’s the point in delaying this announcement until Monday? The roster must be submitted already, and it seems like it would be good grist for MLS announcers tonight to help generate a little buzz for the tournament.

    Reply

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