It’s been 5 long years of this:
“It was our B-team.”
“The players were tired.”
“Bradley’s tactics were spot on.”
“Bradley’s tactics were off.”
“Bradley should try the youth.”
“Onyewu never recovered from his injury.”
“The ref sucks.”
“We just don’t have the players.”
“Give him time.”
“We’re making progress.”
“We beat Spain.”
“We tied Argentina.”
“Could of, would of, should of.”
“The team gives up early goals.”
“Cherundolo got hurt.”
“Freddy Adu is back.”
It’s exhausting! You guys could fill the Library of Congress with this stuff …
The Gold Cup Final is No Exception
Let’s start by saying Bob Bradley was a genius.
* He started Freddy Adu – a Turkish 2nd division player. And guess what? Freddy had a good game. What do those lame Benfica guys know about soccer anyways? Genius!
* Not starting Donovan the last 2 matches and injecting him from the get-go here. Genius!
* Dempsey and Donovan swapping up top. Genius!
* Overall game “tactics” … GENIUS!
And rest assured there would be other proclaimed genius moves had the US held off Mexico and won the Gold Cup.
Except we didn’t. We got abused and made Giovanni dos Santos look like f’ing Messi!
So now we talk about this little incident or that little substitution. Now the coach, who remember had been a GENIUS the first 20 minutes, all of a sudden had a lobotomy?
Come on guys! Stop see-sawing after every tournament, every match, every substitution, every play.
You know you’re guilty of it. Tell me you didn’t think BB was brilliant at 2-0.
So what is it? Is the guy a quality international coach or not?
After 5 years, if you still can’t provide a black or white answer and linger in some grey zone that changes hue with every result, then your understanding of the game is suspect.
I mean really, 5 years is not enough to form a coherent, all encompassing diagnosis?
Here. I’ll help out by giving you a 3rd choice:
* Bradley is an average level coach.
Except that it’s really not another choice, is it?
If he’s average, then he’s not quality.
So what the hell are you doing supporting that! Isn’t our ultimate goal to reach the class of “contender”. To have style, to be fluid, to have a roster worth at least $100 million, to be widely respected (don’t kid yourself here). Isn’t that the goal? Project 2010 anyone?
Stop accepting mediocrity, making excuses for it, or searching for the bright side.
Start demanding quality and Storm the Bastille!
This country has the players for the product we desire. You just don’t know it.
And the federation has the resources for a quality manager, but as long as you continue to flow with the changing tide of every game, you’ll never get one.
So I guess what I’m saying here is this:
A big reason Mexico has firmly reclaimed its CONCACAF throne, is on the US Soccer apologists. It is you who give the federation just enough political capital to continue doing what it does.
Excellent post! Sounds like this was almost like a personal email to Sunil Gulati. If he can’t figure out that Bradley isn’t a bad coach, but not the one to take us to an elite level after 5 years then he needs to go as well as Bradley, and that in my opinion is the case, one of them going isn’t enough we need mass changes at all levels. I watched the Panama game and I was telling my friend next to me with two consecutive plays made by Jermain Jones that the first play is why were a good team that’s better than most, the second play is why we will NEVER be world class with the players we put on the field and Bradley managing them. The first play, the ball was in the corner, our fullback got beat, Jones came over and muscled him off the ball and won the ball, and I think drew a foul for us after winning possession back, that’s the play that makes us a strong team, better than most, and that is why Bradley selects Jones as a first choice Central Midfielder. Notice CENTRAL MIDFIELDER, where there can be no exception for not having the most brilliant of technique, vision, and ability to keep the ball under pressure, more so than any position on the field. This brings me to the 2nd play that I was talking about, the play that is the perfect example of why we have a ceiling to our game that we will never jump through unless we choose different players and have a different manager. The play was Jones received a ball deep in the center of midfield, under a little pressure, he doesn’t have the skill, vision, or craftiness to get out of the pressure and keep possession, so he coughs the ball up, and not only that now he fouls the player he lost the ball to, and about 2 seconds after the free kick Panama gets their first goal. He completed the hat-trick of crap just like Clark did: lose possession, foul, and get scored on. The best teams in the world, specifically Spain, and Barcelona, really all their players, but especially their central midfielders never ever give the ball away, and especially not under little pressure in dangerous positions. There are so many times we give the ball away cheaply, and it’s not even discussed or mentioned, just work hard, “get stuck in”, and win it back, it’s not that simple when you play a team good enough to punish you. Sorry for going on about two little plays but I thought that was a great example of why A) We’re a good team, but B) We are a LONG, LONG ways from being a great team. Little things like keeping the ball, in our defensive end, not sending Bornstein bombing forward time after time when we have a 2-0 lead to a superior team and we have a slow backline, and actually playing some guys with skill and brains in other areas except for the attacking midfield positions. Starting Adu was a good move, starting Donovan was a good move, and getting up 2-0 was nice, but those things never made Bradley any better of a manager, he is and always will be an average to slightly above average manager, and we need and deserve better than that. People need to stop being blinded by the scoreboard of one match, or specific times of matches, and look at the bigger picture, results over a longer period of time, and the quality of soccer that we play, those two matter much more than 1 game, or a fraction of a single game.
Gary Kleiban says
That’s the key isn’t it? Central Midfield.
At least that’s a hugely important problem. Until American coaches start understanding how to utilize a #10, this country will be stuck in the mud.
I don’t disagree with any of this, and I support the cause, but I wonder about some things.
Does the federation really have the resources to afford a quality manager? The organization doesn’t seem flush with funds to me. Bradley’s wages are way below what others make.
Assuming they do have the funds, is the federation even willing to consider a quality manager? A good deal of blame has to rest on the shoulders of those at the highest levels of US Soccer, but I can’t for the life of me see how there will ever be any change there. It’s akin to removing an ExCo member at FIFA (make of that what you will)…
I tend to agree with you that the “right” American players are already out there. While it’s important to stress development, this seems more a selection issue than it is a lack of quality. If that’s the case, why aren’t more of our players getting picked up by the scouts that CAN identify soccer IQ? I suppose players like Rossi, Subotic, and Ibisevic might be examples here, but you’d think there’d be more.
They make decisions based on resources, but where does that money go. Why put the Gold Cup Final at the Rose Bowl, where you know Mexican fans will outnumber US fans? Because you can sell-out a 90K seat stadium, that’s why. Because of decisions like this, they have the dough…. It can’t be a money thing…
The decision to place the Gold Cup at the Rose Bowl has nothing to do with the USSF. That has to do with CONCACAF. And yes it had everything to do with money and CONCACAF made it. Plus it is a nice venue for soccer matches. I am sure the USSF made some money on it but the decision to play that final in Pasadena was not theirs.
Gary Kleiban says
Well I certainly don’t have access to the federation’s balance sheet, but it’s a hard sell to say the reason we don’t get a quality manager is due to money. Like Henry says below, USSF dropped $50 million on Project 2010. And the go ahead on that initiative was over 10 years ago when surely we had far less funds …
I think the problem is two-fold.
1) Any manager worth his weight will demand total control.
2) I’m certain leaders of the federation haven’t a clue what a quality manager is in the first place.
And finally, as to what’s up with our scouting …
they’re donkeys too.
Is this really the fault of Bob Bradley or can this be placed on the shoulders of the United States Soccer? I do agree that Bob is an average coach.
A writer above asked if US Soccer has the funds? I would say that if US Soccer had 50 mil to throw at “Project 2010” They certainly have the funds to purchase a Coach of the highest quality.
I don’t think that money is the issue when in comes to hiring a coach to represent our country. From what I have heard and correct me if I am wrong but it has everything to do with “control” How much is one willing to give to the other and vice versa. US Soccer needs to quit with the politics and solely focus on using the assets available to them to make US Soccer a true force in the global eyes. This may mean they have to relinquish control of some things to make it happen. This may mean a total revamping of the system bottom to top, top to bottom.
I guess my question is this? Is there going to be change on the horizon or are we going to go through yet another cycle of mediocrity? What is your take on Sunil and his leadership? Can and should some blame be placed on him?
Gary Kleiban says
Poor Bob. He does get a lot of crap from me and some others around the media.
I’m sure he’s doing the best he can. He’s just bounded by his personal soccer limitations. The reason I jump on him, however, is that he, like all his soccer clones in this country have to be exposed for their limitations.
I want all those in the soccer community to understand and begin to identify on their own what these limitations are. Education! When more of us fans, pundits, parents, players, coaches, etc … reach that level of understanding, we can start to really move forward.
Can blame be place on Gulati? For sure! The reason I haven’t written about Sunil or the “leadership” to date, is because I don’t necessarily know what drives their policies. I’m assuming money and control, right? But isn’t that every federations main driver?
I know soccer … the inner plumbing of USSF leadership, however, I’m not privy to. Maybe I’ll start educating myself there.
The USSF Leadership only cares about money trust me. I know some people that know how they run and they were only concerned about getting 2022 (oops fail…) and they just want to grow the game, tired of hearing that, u have all these players and can’t create one world class player nevermind a team.
Question- Do we really have the players? Is Bradley that bad a defensive strategist that he can make Jones and the 4 defenders look like fools? Our defenders are slow, tired, and unskilled. Maybe it’s Bob’s fault for not playing other guys, but as someone who doesn’t know that much about soccer, my question is this: ARE there other guys? Does the US team really lack any depth?
I’m not saying Bradley doesn’t deserve some of the blame, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that those defenders are world-class by any stretch. And do we not have anybody better than Jones? Dude looked LOST out there….
Gary Kleiban says
In short, yes we do have the players.
Not of the world class variety, but we have players made in their image. Meaning, they share the same qualities, just not as refined or perfected. Even within the NT pool, there are some of these guys. Torres, Feilhaber, Agudelo, Gomez, Ream, Bunbury, Donavan, & Dempsey. With the exception of the last 2, the others are on the bubble and time and again pushed aside by lower quality players that better fit “the American mold”, not the “world class” mold.
Outside the NT pool, this happens all over the place!!! The American bred coach does not know how to leverage technical and intelligent players. To them, players like Iniesta are a liability. And so here we are … with guys like Jones & Bradley Jr instead.
We may have the players out there, but with our current system of finding and developing youth player, we’ll never find out. Too much is dependent on the selection process at the area, state and regional levels. I’m sure we can all tell stories how that process is so tanited by “politics”. The Regionl and National Staff coaches mostly select from that pool. Has anyone ever seen a Regional or Nationl coach at a local soccer event? I am not saying they can or have the time to scout players in every nook and cranny of this huge country, but it seems to me we do have a newtork of trainers and coaches all across he country and I say they should have some input or some way to alert our Regional and National staff coaches of players they may have been overlooked. I think with the establishment of the MLS soccer academies, much of that kind of input is already going on, however, they too don’t have the ability to scout for every potential pro player. We need to broaden the search pool.
Brandon Elwood says
Im am in agreemant 100 percent. You nailed it on the head. There must be some way of sending or scouting better hear in the US. If you are a parent and never played soccer before, but people are coming up to you that you do not know and telling you your kid is crazy good…You should look for your nearest MLS academy or competative league. But that is still not good enough. MLS is just catching on to this and I think they are still relatively tentative to put the funds forward….but they will see soon what rewards the homegrown player can reap for them.
They need to find em when they are young like this….
Or its off to the La Masia…
I am one of those who still can’t help thinking that the answer to the question, “why don’t they play out of the back and build up attacks through midfield, why the endless long balls?” is “Because they can’t.” It is clear that Bradley has very little commitment to, and maybe even understanding of, possession soccer, but even if we brought in a coach who did, would it really make a difference? I have yet to see 11 US players with the technical quality and soccer IQ to play any different than Bradley has them playing. I keep reading that there are plenty of players out there who fit those characteristics, but the question in my mind is – wouldn’t those players be finding success professionally if that were true?
Gary Kleiban says
Well Mike the answer is yes: If somebody with a clue took over it would make a difference.
And no: players of true quality have an extremely difficult time finding success professionally here.
You don’t see “these players” with the technique and brains to play differently, because those guys do not have the more important physical characteristics that the clueless hordes of coaches in this country heavily value. So those players are either riding the pine on MLS benches or rotting away in the lower divisions of US Soccer.
But perhaps even more important, the style of play (or lack thereof) implemented by our coaches does not allow quality players to shine. Andres Iniesta would be on the bench in favor of Steve Zakuani. I promise you!
Those are the reasons why the majority of people, like yourself, are inclined think we’re talking about unicorns and rainbows.
Well the u17s just got manhandled by Germany. If it isn’t obvious now that we need mass changes across the board then it will never be. We must change, we must change now, and we must change to a large degree from the top down and from the bottom up. We are failing at every level, the full team at the gold cup losing to Panama and getting thrashed by Mexico in the final, the U20s failing to make the U20 WC losing to Guatemala, and the U17s losing to Uzebekistan and then getting massacred by Germany. We are failing at all levels, we are not only failing to improve, we are actually getting worse at this point. We desperately need outsiders with some fresh ideas.
At least we have our woman’s team! We NEED them to win the WC to make the mens side try harder.
Why can the rest of the world catch up and pass the US Women’s program? While the US Men’s program always seems to take one step forward and then two steps back? The recent US M17 game against Germany was a sad display of what we will see over the next 5 years. PS, Wilmer Cabrera is a foreign born coach- so I don’t think we use that excuse.
Also, why does Cal South ODP keep the same players year after year?