June 29, 2010
By Michael Lewis
U.S. soccer president praises Bradley, but says team fell short of expectations
JOHANNESBURG -- The fate of U.S. coach Bob Bradley will not be determined until July.
|Sunil Gulati said U.S. coach Bob Bradley did a very good job, but that the team fell sport of expectations.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Saying that Bradley has done "a very good job" but that the team fell short of expectations at the World Cup, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati Monday stated he won't make any decisions until he meets with the Bradley next month.
"I have known Bob for a very long time, I have a lot of faith in him and I think the world of him at a personal level," Gulati said in a roundtable discussion with the media. "We will make the right decision for the sport. It won't be about the personal level. It's not going to be a snap decision.
"I want to hear his thoughts about how things went. I have some questions and why we did some things collectively -- decisions that he made along the way. I'm sure he is going to want to hear about some of my reactions."
Bradley's contract runs through the end of the year.
The Americans won their group for the first time, going undefeated (1-0-2) but were eliminated in the second round, losing to Ghana in extratime, 2-1. The U.S. led its games for only three minutes.
"The team is capable of more," he said. "The players know it. I think Bob knows it. At that level, we are disappointed we didn't get to play another 90 minutes, at least."
Gulati described the U.S. WC experience as "mixed results and very much mixed emotions." He called reaching the second round a success.
But . . .
"Where it is clearly not accomplished is, everyone associated with the program feels it was an opportunity missed -- a game we could have won and probably feel we should have won," Gulati said. "It was all in front of us. We started dreaming after the first round. Looking at the brackets and you start thinking about what is possible, and unfortunately we think about what could have been."
Gulati stressed he has no plans to talk to any possible successor until he speaks with Bradley, who returned home yesterday. Gulati intends to remain in South Africa through the July 11 final.
"This isn't a question about making a change," he said. "I want to sit down with Bob. That is the appropriate thing. I want to hear his views, express some of mine and see what makes sense. I think he has done a very good job, that is very clear."
With the spotlight heavily on the team and TV ratings at an all-time high, Gulati realized the sport could have been promoted to an even wider audience.
"It is also a missed opportunity to stay in the American public's eyes for another four, five six days, maybe 10 days, when interest is at an all-time high," he said. "I have no doubt there will be people still watching at bars at strange times, the TV ratings will still be good, but what the ratings might have been for a quarterfinal game or dreaming beyond that. We clearly caught something in the last few weeks that we haven't seen before. The job is to try to hold on to some part of that."
Besides the international friendly against WC quarterfinalist Brazil at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Aug. 10, Gualti said there will be at least one other game in October (FIFA has international playing dates on Oct. 12-16 and Nov. 17).
The U.S. will not compete at Copa America 2011, as it did four years ago, Gulati added.