Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bob Bradley Firing

Not long ago, someone with a long history with US Soccer was talking to me about Bob Bradley, and about what I thought about him continuing as coach of the men's team.

I answered honestly that I thought it had been a mistake to retain him, but that I didn't see it as an error that U.S. Soccer would rectify. 

"Bradley hasn't done badly enough to warrant firing," I stated. "It's not something the federation usually does. They haven't fired a coach since Steve Sampson in 1998."

Well, today they did just that. 

Specifically, Sunil Gulati fired Bradley.

I'm genuinely surprised, but not shocked. 

The expectations for the U.S. team are higher now, perhaps, than ever, given the investment in the squad. The team hasn't played that well under Bradley this year. 

I can't help but think back to the idea that Bradley seems to have his best success with squads in the early years of his time. With Chicago in 1998, he won MLS Cup in his first year as head coach, in the club's first year of existence. His tenure with the MetroStars was promising at the start, as was his time with Chivas USA. Bradley's beginning with the USA squad was similarly stellar. 
Which it not to say that the USA team ever was horrible, as it's likely no Bradley team is ever that. Yet there are some players who seem to tune out his motivation and philosophies after a while. 

That's human nature. It happens.

The bottom line is, if Clint Dempsey's shot hadn't slipped away from the Algerian goalkeeper at the World Cup last year, and if the rebound hadn't fallen kindly for a trailing Landon Donovan, then there would probably be a new coach of the USA team right now. One's tenure shouldn't come down to one kick, whether in a positive or negative way, no matter how many celebrations that moment set off. 

That's why I argued at the time that Bradley shouldn't stay on the basis of that kick being successful. It was too arbitrary, too close. 

Luis wrote earlier on this blog that Bradley should go. I didn't write a post myself, mostly because it seemed pointless to write about a firing I didn't think it was going to happen. 

Now that the deed is done, I can give a qualified nod to the move. It's the right thing, in my opinion, if the replacement for Bradley is right. 

But that's another blog post, for another day.


Michael said...

You can't minimize the fact that we happened to win the Algeria game on a juicy rebound goal, while neglecting to mention that we had already scored a perfectly legit goal earlier in the game that was called back offsides, as well as being denied another perfectly legit goal vs. Slovenia that would have given us a 3-2 win. We deserved to win our group, we played the best in our group.

That being said - I welcome the coaching change.

john said...

Good move, another 4 years of the Father/Son combo would have been scandalous.

Hopefully Klinsmann has accepted the job this time.