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What may confuse many analysts and casual fans that don't follow the United States team closely is why Bradley's tenure frustrated so many supporters.
Outside of the more measurable criteria (results, performance, improvement), Bradley's teams embody few of the characteristics American fans admire.
Bradley's men will always be labeled as tenacious and scrappy, but that's only one of many qualities past American teams have displayed, only under Bradley, again and again, these were the most needed qualities.
Perhaps, it was the result of instituting some much-needed discipline on defense, organization and team solidarity, but what qualities Bradley instilled in the team may have been his downfall.
On too many occasions, the U.S. came out with the feeling of "we have to execute Bradley's checklist," and usually that meant certain defensive expectations, but such expectations seem to create a box in which players had to play (i.e. fit) every game.
It appeared as if the team came out tense and uninspired. The players looked tight, and it took the team a good twenty minutes to get comfortable on the pitch.
So instead of the players beginning the game at a level and in a position to exceed expectations, it appeared as if the team had to live up to expectations.
The psychological effects of such an environment can have hugely detrimental effects on a team.
Of course, it's harder to document and measure such effects, and few American players are ever willing to come out an criticize their coach (out of fear, loyalty, whatever the reason), so no one may ever if this was the true feeling in the locker room.
But fans knew, and those that have seen other American teams know that this is not the way it had been in the past, nor the way it should be. Players should be encouraged to play above themselves, not within their abilities.
Rarely did this happen under Bradley (Even if other analysts like to claim differently. Did any of Bradley's teams ever truly eclipse or feel as successful as the 2002 team?). There were few breakout performances or evolutions in players' careers as a result of Bradley's influence.
Donovan and Dempsey's growth could be more directly attributed to what they did with their club opportunities than what they did while playing for their country.
Maybe such a situation isn't as important as results, but under Bruce Arena, a number of careers were advanced...Landon Donovan in particular but also Clint Mathis, DeMarcus Beasley, arguably Brad Friedel and Josh Wolfe to name a few.
Even as far back as 1994, American teams and players executed on a higher level than what was expected of them (Alexi Lalas ring a bell?).
There weren't quite as many under Bradley.