Bradley, Should He Stay or Go?

The future of Bob Bradley with the U.S. National Team is still uncertain. His contract is up at the end of the year and although it seems like Bradley has met with US Soccer about the future, nothing has happened yet.

Personally I like Bob Bradley. I observed a few of his training sessions during pre-season in Florida or Myrtle Beach...poor memory...when he was with Chicago fire, and thought they were exceptionally good sessions. The sessions were always active, the players constantly moving, lots of small-sided games and some sort of fun competition made them interesting and fun for the players who seemed to enjoy them. Bradley would even join in on some of the small-sided games.

So, with that in mind, I am for Bradley keeping the job as head coach of the U.S. National Team. I think he has done a good job and managed some impressive results, most notably last year in South Africa when the beat Spain and had a pretty good tournament surprising not only Spain but going two goals up against Brazil.

However, my feeling is that U.S. Soccer are looking elsewhere. They seem to think that the national team underperformed at the World Cup. And if you look at it, it could be argued that they did. A lucky goal got them a tie against a poor England side. This was followed by a lacklustre draw against Algeria and only a last minute heroic goal saw them advance to the last 16. Then they lost against Ghana when they were favorites to win.

But I would argue that they didn't underperform. It was more a question of things just not going there way. To have a good World Cup or any tournament for that matter, a team needs to have things go their way sometimes and a bit of luck always helps. If this doesn't happen, then teams can have a tough time advancing and this is what happened to the U.S.

Now although the main goal of any national team is to do well at the World Cup, Bradley should not be measured solely on how the U.S. did at the World Cup. And even if he was, they didn't do too badly, it's just that they didn't do really well. It's not like they had a disaster. Bradley should be measured on how well his teams have performed over the years, how well his players respect and play for him. And I think if this is taken into account, there is no question that Bradley should be retained for another four years. And this is what puts U.S. Soccer and Sunil Gulati in a difficult position.

My feeling is that they want to replace Bradley, but because he has done reasonably well over his tenure and didn't have a disaster of a Wold Cup, they can't find a real reason to fire him. And if they do fire him, it really puts the pressure on Gulati to make sure he not only gets a more high profile coach, but that coach, then needs to have unprecedented success. In other words, the pressure is really on Gulati if he fires Bradley. Maybe, Gulati is hoping Bradley has a bad couple of games or team/player problem so he can be more justified in firing Bradley and at the same time, take some of the pressure of himself with the new hire.

It reminds me of a similar situation of a local university here in Kansas City. The basketball program at UMKC had been built up from basically nothing to have reasonable success in minor D1 conference. Then the program had stabilized for a couple of years (not gone backwards, but stabilized), and the new Athletic Director decided to fire the coach saying he needed someone who could take the program to the next level.

Well, guess what. He couldn't find a coach and ended up hiring someone who let the program fall. Fired that guy and hired someone else. That didn't work and I think the AD then left and over the past five years or so, the program has returned the depths it was years ago.

So firing that coach was the worst thing UMKC could have done and I have a sneaky feeling the same fate could befall US Soccer if they decide to get rid of Bradley.  And I think Gulati is feeling the pressure.  I think he is keeping Bradley for the moment while at the same time, attempting to attract a big name coach.  If he can get the big name coach, Bradley will be let go.  If he can't, then Bradley could be retained.

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