Posts Tagged ‘Bob Bradley’

Bob Bradley: Still USMNT Coach

Contrary to wild Internet reports…Bob Bradley has not resigned as United States Men’s National team coach.

USSF spokeman Neil Buethe says, “There is no change in the situation. Bob Bradley has not resigned.”

Upon prompting: Buethe: “There is no announcement expected in the next week. Discussions are still ongoing between Bob and US Soccer.”

I think that’s all we have on this one for now.

Hey, I'm still coaching...

Bob Bradley Tunes In On Dan Patrick

A pensive time....

Bob Bradley is getting his message out there now that Sunil Gulati has.

Coach Sweatpants stopped by the Dan Patrick show. What’s more impressive?

That Bradley said he’d be honored to continue as US Coach or that he used the word “gutted”

DP: How long did it take to get over the loss to Ghana?
BB: I’m still going through the process. When a team has put a lot into it and it ends quickly, I think it takes a little while.

DP: What was the locker room like after the loss? How long was it before you said something?
BB: I went around to each individual when they were sitting there and thanked everybody. We didn’t actually talk to the whole group until the next day.

DP: If I could give you a mulligan, what would you do differently with your lineup against Ghana?
BB: I don’t think I’d change the lineup as much as I’d change the way we’ve started some games. We just put ourselves in the hole too many times. Ultimately, we kept fighting back, but when we did it again to start the overtime, it just seemed to be too much.

DP: Do you think you were better than Ghana?
BB: I think we are, yes.

DP: Is there one aspect you have to improve if you’re going to remain head coach?
BB: When you look at all the games, we created a good number of chances. That’s always something you’re trying to do. But at the end of the day, I don’t think we took our chances as well as we needed. Particularly in the Ghana game, I think we gave up three chances, and they scored twice. We probably created five or six good chances, and our only goal came off a penalty kick.

Full transcript here.

TSG Writers Chat Bob Bradley

TSG will be doing quite a bit of “Bob Bradley review” in the coming days and weeks. As a publication, we’re not quite ready to issue our “New York Times editorial” on what the verdict on Bob Bradley’s current tenure is or who should be coaching the Yanks in a few months.

We kick off our Bob Bradley review coverage with a TSG chat among our frequent writers: Shaun, Tuesday and Brian.

I’ll play moderator and this is just the beginning of sussing out expectations and evaluation of Coach Sweatpants. Drop your comments below and we’ll issue more as we continue to review the past four years of “The Life of Bob.”

Bob Bradley (2006-?): Victorious? (photo courtesy of Matt Mathai)

Matthew: Okay — for those reading on TSG, the writers of TSG wanted to appropriately discuss the “Bob Bradley situation.”

How did he do? Did the team meet expectations? What does the future hold?

Matthew: First question, did Bob Bradley do a good job? Explain and offer data points.

Brian: When you look at Bob Bradley’s performance over the course of this cycle, the man did a good job. The results speak for themselves: when using the full USMNT, the team won the 2007 Gold Cup, beat Spain and narrowly lost the 2009 Confederations Cup, won CONCACAF World Cup qualification, and won their group in the World Cup.

Bob Bradley embraces Ricardo Clark after "The Substitution."

Mister Tuesday: By Saturday, Bob Bradley almost had me convinced. Then he did what was obviously total madness in all eyes but his. After two very solid Edu performances that seemed to earn him a starting spot, he went back to Clark.

Shaun: I thought he did a good job. I think he got the most out of a squad and made them a team. The exact opposite of what Capello did. Individually, England’s players could be rated better but they couldn’t play together as a team, where as the US masked their faults to a degree with good team work and unity.

The positives….

• He picked the right 23

• He installed a flexible system so that the USMNT could change shape and formation pretty effortlessly without exposing themselves.

• He recognized when he made mistakes and changed them as quickly as possible. So many mangers keep trying when they fail and end up making things worse.

The negatives….

• Poor tactical choices cost him important sub options late in game from having to rectify mistakes.

• Not tough enough. I don’t much about him but he seems to play favorites, hence Clark starting etc…

Brian: Bradley had to do a lot of revamping of the squad he inherited in 2006. The entire spine of the team, forwards, center midfielders, center halves, and goalie all needed to be replaced. Bradley wasn’t afraid to go with more risky players: a nepotism-inducing pick of his son, using an 18-year old Jozy Altidore and unheralded Charlie Davies. The U.S. did not get an influx of talent these last four years, they became a better organized and grittier team.

Matthew: Brian, Sweats nearly had to be talked into Altidore. He admonished him after his first camp.

Mister Tuesday: If this was a “one-time mistake” sort of situation that would be one thing, however it was yet another of his impenetrable decisions. Bob has gotten very good at finding solutions within games, but he struggles to see how things will play out beforehand.

Shaun: 100% agree Tuesday.

Mister Tuesday: That said, he was a win away from being widely seen as the most successful USMNT manager ever.

Landon moving to left wing set the tone (courtesy, Matt Mathai)

Matthew: Did Bob Bradley do a good job? Yes. He did. A few data points stick out in my head. First, keeping a team together after the first two losses and reaching a Confederation Cup final. Following that up with a title run in Gold Cup 2009 with “B” or “C” level players again. Solid. Beyond this Bradley–like a true American ethos coach–had the team buy in. Landon Donovan moving to left wing set the tone. If you get the leaders to buy-in and make sacrifices, the rest of the team follows.

That said Bradley showed a “limited” technical ability and made the same mistakes multiple times. You don’t see that with Jose Mourinho, for example.

And the big “However.” The Yanks were done in this World Cup by not finishing their chances up top less the tactical decisions from limited quality.

Shaun: (to Tuesday)…but a couple of minutes away from being seen as a failure. It’s a brutal job and thankless.

Mister Tuesday: Let’s just look at Bob’s accomplishments: 2007 Gold Cup Champions to qualify for the Confederation’s Cup. Blooded a new group of players in going 3 and out at that year’s Copa America (and evoked the ire of CONMEBOL). 2009 Confederation’s Cup and Gold Cup finalists with 2 completely different player pools.

Bradley did well with the players he had at his disposal but he also made some mistakes in handling things. A lot of time that could’ve been used to give potential first-team combinations potential time together was devoted to selecting players at the fringes that played little to no role in South Africa.

_______________

Gulati: Backing BB still?

Matthew: Sunil Gulati stated that the Yanks failed to meet expectations. He made a veiled comment that Bradley would be reviewed without a vote of confidence while saying that the players were not off the highest caliber. Who bears the brunt of the failure to advance in the World Cup? The coach or the players?

Shaun: I think it depends on the situation. It’s never 100% players or coach. In this case I would have to say its a 65% BB and the rest the players. They made mistakes on the field that they should have done better with. It’s not the coach’s fault that a lot of them have poor ball control. But it is up to him set up the team so those errors are few and far between. Edu is more confident, more experienced and more comfortable on the ball. Clark should never have been involved.

Brian: I put about 70% of the blame on the players. There was a clinical lack of finishing from the entire team and some fundamental errors in marking from the center-halves. Bradley did make a couple of line-up mistakes, but you could also say he reacted better to fix a team mid-game than any other manager this World Cup.

Matthew: Tough one here. I have to put more of the blame on Bradley. It was Bradley’s choice to get Onyewu ready through the friendlies and not develop chemistry between DeMerit and Boca or DeMerit and whomever. That was a miscalculation.

It was Bradley’s choice to rotate central midfielders which is always a challenge to developing chemistry and continuity.

And it was Bradley’s choice to bring Buddle at forward and not play the hottest net-finding striker, especially when the Yanks couldn’t finish. That decision is still mind-boggling to me.

On the field, Bradley beat an Algerian side that should have been beaten. He drew a Slovenia side that should have been beaten and in retrospect a draw was probably fair against England. I have through an asterisk because with some correct calls Bradley likely beats Slovenia and has an easier time with Algeria–so noted.

And….if the US has strikers that can finish a shot. We’re discussing Uruguay right now, not Bob Bradley–so maybe I’m off on the blame game. But I did mention that Buddle seems to know how to finish.

Shaun: Bradley was not responsible for the US missing the goals (though his choices did help create them by utilizing Dempsey and Donovan wide etc…) but his tactics, player selection etc… were partly responsible for all the goals that were given up.

Buddle, a missed opportunity of itself? (courtesy, Matt Mathai)

Mister Tuesday: The USA were one of the brighter attacking teams at the World Cup, but were also one of the worst defensive teams. Across the back four Bob Bradley was limited by the players he had at his disposal. We could second guess his inclusion of Beasley over a young player like Bedoya, but the reality our central defensive pairing consisted of a defender plays for a mid-table Championship side.

Our best striker played last season for a relegated Premiership side and managed 1 league goal. Altidore wasn’t any more threatening for the national team.

Mister Tuesday: Findley, Buddle and Gomez all had their own opportunities. I think Bob made a mistake replacing Altidore with Gomez rather than Buddle, but Ghana’s winning goal came so quickly that it hardly mattered.

Brian: The only thing I can criticize Bradley for roster-wise is not giving more of a shot to America’s young defenders. You have to think that Omar Gonzalez and Eric Lichaj might have made an impact for team so thin at the back.

Shaun: The USA are a counter attacking team as they don’t have the skill to hold the ball up and pass it amongst each other back and forth waiting for an opportunity.

When they counter and it is successful it is always the same 3-4 players who are involved versus 7-8 who can starts, orchestrate or finish those moves.

Bradley deserves credit for setting up the USMNT to work that counter.

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England: The Book On Bob Bradley

For die-hard USMNT fans, the past few weeks have been filled with surprises in what has otherwise been a mundane and somewhat “sloggish” World Cup qualifying cycle.

Coach USA: Lots churning before Saturday

Throughout qualifying, you could count on a two things from men’s national team coach Bob Bradley. Bradley would entrust key qualifiers to a select group of experienced players. He would then supplement with primarily MLS players that had already bought into his system at other locations.

Bradley used 92 different players through qualifying interchanging newcomers on the periphery of the starting line-up and the bench. To use a parallel to baseball, Bradley kept “strength up the middle” and used the wide outfield spots to test out new players.

Strategically, Bradley employed a number of different formations, meandering from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 to a 4-5-1 and eventually back to the 4-4-2.

Bradley’s teams could be counted on to exhibit their leader’s focus on tough on-the-ball pressure defense, moving collectively as one and voraciously defending the backline and goal often at the expense of generating fluidity in the offense. Additionally, Bradley–as we learned through Filip Bondy’s book “Chasing The Game,” favors the on-the-ball defense and positioning upon a turnover as perhaps the crux to his entire system.

Casey: Instrumental in qualifying, absent on the plane...(courtesy, Matt Mathai)

However, flash forward to May of this year and the US Men’s Team seems to be more experimental than any other time in the qualifying cycle. As the 30-man roster was announced, Charlie Davies was unable to participate and long-time Bradley confidante Conor Casey remained unbeckoned in Colorado. Once again as the 23-man roster was announced, another notable was absent. Stalwart Brian Ching, a Cup vet and a dutiful servant to Bradley especially during the US’s “B-team” Gold Cup run last year, found his name among those not submitted to FIFA. In the veteran strikers’ stead were three strikers with a collection of single digit caps affixed to their international profiles–Robbie Findley, Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez.

The surprises didn’t end there. Facing the task of figuring out the new collective of strikers to deploy, Bradley elected to move up a midfielder in Clint Dempsey just two Saturday’s ago in arguably the Yanks most intense test pre-World Cup friendly against Turkey. Using Landon Donovan in the hole on the right and seeking to group, arguably, his three strongest attackers (Donovan, Dempsey and Altidore)  in one locale on the pitch, Bradley tried to punt the ball into a mass of his strongest on-ball players.

Didn’t work well, but sure was surprising.

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On Charlie: Skill Gets Him There….. ……Sentiment Draws Our Heart

I wasn’t going to address yesterday’s Bob Bradley comments, but many of you asked TSG to. Our lowest readership comes Friday evenings, so it’s a good time to sneak this one out there.

I really think there is a little too much over-saturation of the Davies’ situation right now; we’re culpable contributors mind you.

Candid...

TSG was invited to yesterday’s event in NY; we tried to make it–couldn’t make it happen. Our apologies.

So the comments and interactions I’m reading are all secondhand. In reading through the reams of copy–if transcribed correctly–it sounded like a refreshingly candid Bob Bradley.

Here’s specifically what Bradley said, courtesy of Grant Wahl:

“Let’s say it’s 100 steps to get back to the same level [that Davies played at before],” Bradley said. “Back to some version of regular training, you can decide what step you think that is. Is that step 60? Is that step 80? And eventually with any athlete those final steps are the hardest steps. So we still need to see where that goes. I’m so thrilled and excited that this is a great story. And Charlie is, as everybody knows for us, a popular guy. He’s a guy that everybody likes. You can’t help but feel that way about him.

“The only part that’s coming up is this: There’s going to be a decision on our end that is simply about the World Cup. I know that’s been one of his motivating forces in this whole thing. Regardless of how that particular decision goes, it’s gonna be important … If at the end he’s at step 80 and we think in order to start that camp he needs to be at 85, that can’t get in the way of him getting back to step 100. So it’s a tricky part because, look, I know what’s on the table right away. I know that a lot of his drive has been with that goal. And that means something to all of us. But at the end of the day, we still have to assess completely where he is as we make decisions, even for the camp.

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What To Expect With Coach USA, Bob Bradley?

Will we see this often in South Africa? (courtesy, Matt Mathai)

As muddled as the USMNT’s precarious leftback situation is as steadfast Bob Bradley is to his soccer values.

For the Manhattan Beach, CA resident, the path to South Africa is one that has been undeniably a success, if only by the digits in the won-loss category. The results though have also come with a fair amount of vigorous debate, scrutiny and trepidation on “the how.”

Jumping into the cockpit on an interim basis in December of 2006, most thought Bradley a stopgap measure until the USSF, with the sour residue of a domestic coach’s blundering plight in Germany fresh in it’s memory, hired a European coach with brand equity to erase that 2006 tournament and polish up some luster on the USMNT shield.

It wasn’t to be.

Nope!

Popular names, like Jürgen Klinsmann, ran the headlines, but just five months later Bradley’s interim tag was removed. With the permanent title came a stamp of approval by the United States’ 2007 Gold Cup victory where a central field pairing of Benny Feilhaber and the coach’s son Michael Bradley teased a vision of future senior game dominance.

The next nearly two years were filled with up and downs and very uneven play, but always challenging games against the world’s best, England, Spain, and Argentina to name a few.

This column isn’t a debate about the merits of Bob Bradley as a coach.

We’ve said two things before that mute the far-reaching chants of  “Fire Bob Bradley:” 1) Bob Bradley has gotten “there”–his team finished first in its group in World Cup qualification. It’s not Bob Bradley’s “fault” that the competition might be suboptimal to the highest levels and 2) We’re 50 days from the dance. Asking if Bob Bradley should be “extended” or “fired” would be a stupid exercise.

A better exercise is to discuss Bradleys strengths and weaknesses and what results they more portend at the World Cup.

TSG is going to give Bob a rating on the TSG Bill Jeffrey scale; the coach who brought down England all those years back. As a note, you may see the same characteristic or attribute on both the positive and negative side of the equation, this is by design.

We’ll go with positives, negatives and then our take (and then of course yours):

Let’s dig in.

Positives:

Focus on in-form players for play and evaluation

Not his Arena anymore...

Perhaps Bruce Arena’s biggest downfall during preparation for 2006, has been Bob Bradley’s strongest focus.

Coach USA, f0r the most part, has been nearly maniacal about testing players when they are in-form to see their abilities. Most recent example? Trotting out Jose Francisco Torres in the central midfield against the Netherlands.

While Bradley diverged from Arena, he’s in step with Fabio Capello who practices the same discipline. The discipline has allowed Capello to avoid the reliance on a player like Michael Owen while also preparing in case Rio Ferdinand is out of action.

For Coach Bob, he’s deviated a bit–Oguchi Onyewu against Honduras–but he also spared Clint Dempsey against Costa Rica after he was ruled out against Honduras which leads us to….

Bill Jeffrey Rating: 8

——-

Team building:

It’s not cliche to suggest that Bob Bradley has brought the USMNT together. In the few observations that TSG has behind-the-scenes, it is clear that the players get along with one another and pull for one another. That may not be true at all time, but it clearly isn’t a case where the parts are stronger than the whole.

Some meager examples from our insight:

• At the January camp practices that TSG attended, there was very frequently both jovial ribbing and constant audible encouragement. There was veterans talking to rookies. The team all arrived together….in minivans. (There is a commercial for Dodge in there somewhere…no?)

• Twitter tells us the players overseas visit and hang-out with one another with Charlie Davies recently visiting Stu in Manchester. Stu cites that he visits with Timmy and Landon–during Landon’s time there–at Everton. Donovan choose Everton because of Tim Howard’s counsel.

Band of Brothers

Contrast this to that Harkes v. Wynalda thing or even the number one goalie undercurrent going into 2006 qualifying.

Oh, and the team all loves playing for him.

Bill Jeffrey Rating: 9

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