TSG’s Brian Mechanick spoke with Jeff Carlisle as the ESPN reporter was about to hop a plan for South Africa.
Mechanick follows up today with a debrief from Carlisle with a little more than a week left at World Cup 2010.
To Brian & Jeff…..
Q: How do you rate the U.S.’s performance in this World Cup?
The exceeded expectations slightly. The fact that they won their group for the first time in 80 years, I don’t think anyone was expecting that. A lot of people say the group was weak, but anytime you can draw with England and take care of business in the other two games, that’s a solid accomplishment. On the other hand they went out in the second round, which a lot of people expected, so you can make the argument that they met expectations, but I would kick it up a few notches higher than that.
Q: How do you evaluate Bob Bradley’s performance as a manager in this World Cup?
On the whole I think he did pretty well. It’s easy to look at back on the game in hindsight and say, “Clearly he shouldn’t have started Ricardo Clark and Robbie Findley”, but I think if you pick a part that decision you have to put yourself in his shoes at the time he made the decision. The fact is the U.S. was coming off of two very intense, exhausting games against Slovenia and Algeria, and I think the logic of putting someone in the midfield who was a little bit fresher, that makes sense to me.
In terms of Findley, the U.S. offense was predicated on having Donovan and Dempsey pinch in and tuck into the middle and have the fullbacks overlap, but if you’re going to do that you need a guy who is going to stretch the defense vertically, so from that standpoint, putting Findley back into the line-up makes sense as well. Clearly, it didn’t work out as Bradley planned, but I think you need to give Bradley credit that he didn’t wait around until halftime and make changes then. He knew that the American’s tournament was on the line, he made changes, and I think they worked pretty well.
One thing a lot of people forget is when extra-time started Bradley had the right guys on the field, and they still coughed up a goal that was very preventable. That to me comes down to the players, not the coach.
Q: Has the American’s talent been overrated, or has the team underperformed to their ability?
I don’t think we’ve been overrating the U.S.’s talent. Coming into the tournament most people expected the team to make the second round and they did that. Could they have gone further? I think they could have. It wasn’t like they were dominated versus Ghana. Yes the first thirty minutes were looking pretty grim, but the U.S. as they so often do gathered themselves, rallied, made a game of it and took the match into extra time.