And here I thought his time was up
In a shocking turn of events that makes no sense to most USMNT fans, even those that liked the bald-headed poor decision maker, Bob Bradley has been hired on for four more years of torturing Biggy and providing enormous amounts of comedy fodder for Chamo.
Seemingly a second choice decision from Gulati, it was made only after it was clear Jürgen Klinsmann still wanted Gulati to step off his preaching chair and let the coach actually change the system. Of course Mr. Gulati never had any intention of removing his ever-present political roster choices from the cards, so he fell back on his bald headed friend, Bob Bradley.
That said, Bradley also looked for greener pastures in Europe, and was even tipped to get a chance to manage at Aston Villa given the American Randy Lerner connection, but nothing ever came to fruition. Frankly, the Villa move would have spelled disaster for Bradley, and he was better off looking for a smaller European spot that wasn’t in the turmoil that the Midlands team currently sees itself in.
So, despite a flurry of names being thrown out from all ends of the USMNT supporters sections, from Pekerman to O’Neill, Sunil Gulati offered Bob his second stint at the helm.
Let me get a few things out of the way:
- Forget all this garbage about second term coaches. The reason you get hired on as a second term National team coach is because you did something right the first time, so naturally you are already set up for failure. This is why the statistics go against the second term men. It would seem insane not to have hired Bruce Arena back after his miracle run in 2002.
- In reality, there really weren’t a whole lot of options. Klinsmann of course is always on the list, but all these names were pretty much just a whole lot of hearsay. The real pool was a bunch of current MLS coaches, but only a few have any national experience (Like my choice, Sigi).
- Regardless of your belief, the USMNT is just as political as the Argentinian team, meaning Gulati and the higher-ups like to have a certain amount of control over the player pool and development. This limits your managerial options, because coaches like Klinsmann won’t deal with it.
Why it was the Wrong Decision:
1) Favoritism: Bob Bradley has given a lot of players opportunities to play for the National Team in controlled arenas, which is great. However, when it comes to the important matches, Bob plays favorites.
Even in friendlies, Bob is unwilling to alter a good selection of players. Michael Bradley, DaMarcus Beasley, Rico Clark, Brian Ching, Oguchi Onyewu, Robbie Findley, Jonathan Bornstein, and Carlos Bocanegra are all examples of Bad Decision Bob’s favoritism. While in certain cases he is forgiven because a lack of positional depth (Bornstein) other times he is not (Rico Clark, I can name at least 3 other CM’s in the player pool better than him).
The issue with this comes down to the talent he will end up wasting. Jose Francisco Torres is the best center mid the USMNT has ever seen in terms of passing ability, poise on the ball, and control. However, since he refuses to pull Baby Brad off the pitch, even for a friendly match, you are unlikely to ever see how Torres pairs with Edu, or Holden, or even Benny for that matter. That is just one example of where favoritism hurts the US.
2) Futbol: I’m not talking about Brazilian Samba football, but I am talking about learning some attacking possession, not boot and run. The US has been playing the same slingshot offense for years, and refuses to go away from it. They possess it in the back, then boot it forward and hope that Jozy, Chuck D, or, now that Bradley is back at the helm, Robbie Findley can chase it down and start something.
It’s no wonder that the US forward line scored less goals than England’s (England had one… USA had none). The US relied on the impressive Landon Donovan to provide all the attacking prowess in the World Cup, but the Ghana game showed what happened once a team stuck someone on him the entire match.
People often point out that the US out possessed three of the four teams they played in South Africa. Possession does not equate directly to attacking ability however. The USMNT possession is too far away from the goal, and you hardly ever see a winger fight to the corner, not see an option and pass it back to start the play over. The team needs a mindset overhaul from a foreign coach, even if only for two years, so they can learn patient football.
3) Expectations: Aside from winning the 2014 World Cup, Bob cannot succeed. I know I already said to forget about the second term coach syndrome earlier, but this is different.
With everything Bradley has achieved for the US, with the success at the Confederation Cup, a decent World Cup, the 2007 Gold Cup victory, Bob cannot possibly succeed. Every small mistake will be scrutinized, any loss will be torn apart.
The USSF was better of finding a replacement, if nothing else, to detract from the watchful eyes that will undoubtedly be placed on Bad Decision Bob every match till 2014.
The Other Possibilities:
- Advantages: Knows how to play the game, and can teach the US to play with some attacking flair. Could get the most out of Jozy, and would utilize JFT. Possibly most important, he would completely revamp the youth system to produce more quality players, earlier in their careers, at the expense of a college education. Lives in California, has National Team experience.
- Disadvantages: Sunil Gulati would be bitter the entire time that someone else came in and did his job better than he did, while he was still technically hired (I’m referring to the youth system). Also unlikely to have instant success since he would likely change the entire way the USMNT plays. Could potentially be a huge failure.
- Advantages: Out of a job currently, but known for getting the most out of players considered to be mediocre, or not performing at their potential. Northern Irish, so would likely produce a USMNT vs. Northern Ireland friendly that Biggy and Chamo have been dreaming of for years. Also wears sweatpants to all games, so aesthetically not a huge change for USMNT supporters, though the glasses would be a new touch.
- Disadvantages: No National Team coaching experience, British accent, and like Klinsmann, likes to have more power over his team than owners are willing to allow him. Would likely transform Jozy into Heskey, which would horrify USMNT fans.
- Advantages: I was surprised at the amount of people who threw this name around. I really don’t believe he was ever an option, but talk about learning to play beautiful football, this would be your man. Again, likely see more creative players than run and gun, get rid of Findley, see more JFT. HUGE emphasis on youth production.
- Disadvantages: English… The whole language barrier potential issue. He, too, would likely want a revamp on the youth system, and Gulati seems unwilling to let anyone tell him how to run his program.
Any MLS Coach:
- Advantages: Know the MLS system, see the upcoming talent and know the system in the US. Likely wouldn’t demand anything from Gulati like the big wigs were. Some have USMNT experience (Sigi).
- Disadvantages: No change in style of soccer. Nothing too interesting, basically implementing a non-bald Bob Bradley.
Disagree with me? Let me know in the comments!