Is it time for Bob Bradley to go?
Most US national team supporters will answer with a resounding "Yes!" when asked that question. I've not been calling for Bradley's head on a platter or anything of the sort, but I'm starting to think that removing him is the only way for the US to really move forward.
Now, before I move on I'd like to point out that I was against re-hiring him after the 2010 World Cup for the simple fact that I think a fresh set of eyes, a fresh perspective and new people are needed at the start of every World Cup cycle. Period. Regardless of the circumstances. It's no coincidence that the US did well from 1998 to 2002 with a new man in charge and stalled from 2002 to 2006 with the same man in charge.
The pattern is repeating itself. The US had a much better 2006-10 than it had 02-06, but now the start of this cycle is already seeing some setbacks and disappointments. The US did not win the Gold Cup, lost to its biggest rival in said tournament final for the second consecutive time, and will not compete in the Confederations Cup two years from now.
Those are the tangible setbacks from this year. The subjective setbacks, the ones that many will argue about, are the ones on the field.
* The defense has been miserable.
* Production from forwards has been non-existent.
* Bleeding in new players has been hit and miss.
* The players who are supposed to step forward and take over now that Donovan and Dempsey are getting up there in age (yes, they are getting up there in age, in soccer terms of course) are not exactly revealing themselves.
Now, how much if this is Bradley's fault? Honestly, this was always going to be an uphill struggle for him. Too much time in the national team's manager position makes for a stale environment and it's difficult to maintain a high level for an extended period of time.
The US isn't exactly a world power but when Bradley came in, the US was the best team in CONCACAF. They are no longer that, and based on how the team played in the Gold Cup, World Cup qualifying might not be a stroll in the spice garden either.
So must Bradley go? Should US Soccer pull the trigger and sack him?
As much as it pains me to say this, yes.
Having covered Chivas USA in 2006 and having seen the kind of changes he made then, and the changes he made with the US national team the next year, and knowing how much work Bradley and his staff put into the team, I know that Bradley's work is just as diligent now as it ever was.
But the US is a team running on a treadmill right now. They're working hard but going nowhere. And that needs to change.
Otherwise, participating in World Cup 2014 might be in jeopardy.