August 31, 2010
By Charles Cuttone
Bradley gets chance to continue building on success
U.S. Soccer has put aside the possibility that things might get stale by keeping the same coach in place for eight years, as well as the disappointing end to the 2010 World Cup, by rehiring Bob Bradley as the U.S. National team coach for the next four years. At the same time, Bradley put aside aspirations of coaching in Europe to remain on the job.
|Bob Bradley will get a second crack and World cup success, after U.S. Soccer re-signed him as National Team Coach for the next four years.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
“We get a chance to build on everything that’s happened over the four years and build on frankly our experiences and performance at the World Cup,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “I think Bob’s done a great job of putting a group of players together, and not just at the World Cup, but in developing that group over three and a half to four years, and we are looking forward to building on that.
“In the end the work and the record overcame any issue about staleness, and that we could overcome that. Teams do well and teams go down, it’s not just down to the coach. Italy and France will attest to that after having been in the final. The progress we are going to have is not going to be from every World Cup.”
Bradley becomes the second consecutive U.S. coach to be rewarded with a second four-year contract at the helm, following Bruce Arena. In Arena’s first World Cup, in 2002, the U.S. advanced to the quarterfinals before being eliminated by Germany. Four years later, the team failed to advance out of the group stage.
Gulati would not comment on whether U.S. Soccer had discussions with other potential coaches, although the name of former German coach Juergen Klinsmann has circulated in the month or so since the World Cup ended. Likewise, Bradley did not comment on specific conversations he had regarding other jobs.
“His record speaks for itself. The level of competition that we have had over the last four years, I think is tougher than we’ve had anywhere in our history. That’s because of playing in Copa America, playing in the Confederations Cup, but also because of a lot of exhibition and friendly games that we played in Europe. We thought that was a deficiency early on and we decided to go out and do that.”
Gulati said he and Bradley first discussed a new contract while still in South Africa, but the fact that the current agreement does not expire until the end of the year placed no urgency on getting a new one done. Gulati pointed out that the situation with the U.S. is different than in other countries, where coaching contracts often expire with the end of the World Cup.
“The period following the World Cup, it was necessary for both sides to have time to assess things, assess opportunities,” Bradley said. “For sure the opportunity to coach in Europe is something that I would really enjoy, but at the same the honor of coaching our national team and continuing the work of the last four years was and will always be the most important work.”
Bradley has compiled a record of 38-20-8 in four years in charge of the U.S. team. After winning the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, he led the U.S. to their its final of a major FIFA tournament, reaching the championship match of the 2009 Confederations Cup after a 2-0 victory against top-ranked and current World Cup champions Spain in the semifinal. The U.S. lost to the Brazilians in the final, 3-2.
Bradley, who coached in MLS for the MetroStars, Chivas USA and Chicago Fire, said he did not think the issue of becoming stale was a major one.
“I certainly believe that the work that went into the past four years, the experiences that we’ve had, will really work for us as we put one cycle behind us and begin the process of the next four years.
Bradley said he will take a hard look at what’s taken place and evaluate what has gone well and what has not to develop a plan moving toward the 2014 World Cup, which will be held in Brazil.
“I think that around the coaching world, not only in soccer, but the ability as a coach to continue every day, every year to challenge your players the right way,” Bradley said. “To know how in some moments to re-energize yourselves, refocus yourselves, in some ways reinvent yourself. When I see someone like Sir Alex Ferguson, how he continues to know how to keep his environment fresh and sharp, I think that is what coaching is about. You can be on the job for a short time and if you lose your concentration or you get caught up with other things, your credibility is put to the test every day as a coach, regardless of whether you have been on the job for four years or four days.”
Bradley gets to start reshaping the team for the next World Cup almost immediately, with friendlies in October against Poland and Colombia. He said he will have to balance the fact that MLS teams will be in a playoff run at that time in calling up players.