Dear Santa, let's be honest, you've been pretty good to me this year.
I know it's been a pretty good year for me. With our last game, we finished with a .500 record and considering we played in the World Cup, I'm fine with that.
Few people blamed me for the Ghana lost and I still have a job, which is great since I didn't land a high profile position in England.
It has been a good year...for me at least.
I don't want to seem greedy, but you know the team and I have started a new World Cup cycle and if you could help out a little bit, then we might be able to get off to a strong start. A positive run could go a long way this year. I mean, we do have a lot to work on and there's never enough time.
Here's my list:
1. Please Santa, Bring Me a Forward or Two
Most of the world has been able to develop one world class forward, why can't I have one?
I keep hearing that our forwards are serviceable and put in all star performances for reserve teams. Tell me something I don't know! Remember, I invite them to my USMNT camps.
With all those European forwards and their work permits, how do my men have a chance to get any better?
Will the U.S. develop a world-class forward before 2014?
Eddie Johnson, Freddy Adu, a whole batch of youngsters in the lower leagues, the majority of my foreign based attackers are languishing overseas.
Maybe you could wrap a forward or two in a giant bow and send them to Brazil or Argentina; they seem to do well with forwards...I'll collect them in two or three years.
Or, since I've been really good, could I have an international star defect to the U.S.? I'm grateful for the players from Norway and Canada, but it's not the same.
2. Let the Young Defenders Continue to Develop
I know my first request was asking for a lot, so I won't ask for much more.
I got really lucky with replacements for my older defenders. Eric Lichaj, Gale Agbossoumonde, Omar Gonzalez and Tim Ream had strong debuts for me. Along with Clarence Goodson's success and even Michael Parkhurst's display, things are looking up!
All I ask for is no injuries or slumps right when we're getting started. We were a little shaky in the back during the last World Cup, so I can't do that gain.
3. Keep Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey Safe this Christmas
Let's be honest, the team isn't the same without these two in the lineup. Alejandro Bedoya and Benny Feilhaber have their moments, but they don't add the same class and danger when they play on the wings. I know I have a number of up and coming youngsters, but it's just not the same.
Plus, Donovan and Dempsey are in form.
I can handle a dip in performance from these two right now in the cycle, but I can't fix injuries and get them back to where they need to be by 2014. Look what's happened to Charlie Davies, he can't even get in the first team any longer.
Come to think of it, maybe you could convince Landon Donovan to stay home this Christmas.
4. Let the Premier League's Revolving Door for Managers Continue a Little Longer
I was a little surprised and excited about the sacking of Chris Hughton at Newcastle. I was worried that all of the teams outside of the top four in the Premier League had fired their managers.
But I checked the list of EPL managers on the hot seat and realized their were plenty of questionable managers left.
I know this is selfish, but please let owners in England continue to hire the same mediocre managers because they think fans want big names over wins, are willing to ignore talented assistants, and expect immediate results because they're going broke on their bad sports investment.
Maybe, just maybe, you could have this downward spiral continue until right after the next World Cup. Then, the FA could step in, demand teams balance their books which forces owners to focus on the long term (i.e. managers with strong philosophies), and perhaps, oh please, oh please, may another American buy another team...an American that likes me!
Since English fans have trouble with American owners (but strangely, not other foreign owners), I could use a little favoritism so I don't have to work myself up the European ladder. That would be a real help.
I mean people do like me, Santa. That's the one benefit to my coaching style. I may struggle at tactics, formations and personnel decisions, but the players like me, or at least that's what they tell me to my face and to the press.
That has to count for something, right?
And speaking of favoritism...
5. May My Son hit a Great Run of Form and Get that Big Club Transfer
It might be rough over Christmas dinner this year.
Michael's Bundesliga team isn't doing so hot and he didn't have the breakout World Cup everyone predicted, so he's going to need a little help this Christmas.
It's getting dicey on the national team and I really don't want to field questions as to why my son is playing over the likes of Stuart Holden. How did Stuart get a starting role anyway? He broke a leg!
And who would have thought he'd play well on top of that?
I do appreciate Jermaine Jones' demotion to the reserve team for his club, but he'll play again, or at the very least get his transfer wish, and then what am I going to do? Even out of form, I can't keep Jones on the bench.
And that Norwegian I was talking about, Mikkel Diskerud, if he's not using the U.S. for some exposure and decides to play for me full time, it's going to get a little tense in the locker room.
Michael's been pretty lucky so far, since with timely goals he distracts fans from the holes in the rest of his game, but I'm not going to be able to defend never subbing my son when there's so many options sitting on the bench.
"He can run forever" works better in track and field than soccer. So could you send a little help his way? It won't be fun in the Bradley house otherwise.
Santa, I know this is a lot to ask, but really, outside of my first request, are the rest too much to ask? They could happen, and still no one would know you exist.
Best Wishes this Christmas,
U.S. National Team head Coach
Thanks for the help with Jurgen Klinsman! That was a great early Christmas present. It made up for losing the 2022 bid; I won't be coaching here any longer...hopefully.
Tell everyone hello at Barcelona and Manchester United, since it's obvious you're answering all of their letters this Christmas.