Bob Bradley's Legacy Is Cemented with U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame Induction

Peter Galindo@@GalindoPWFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2015

CHICAGO - JUNE 21:  Head coach Bob Bradley of USA walks onto the pitch against Canada during the CONCACAF Gold Cup Semifinal match at Soldier Field on June 21, 2007 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Bob Bradley is one of the most successful American soccer coaches in history. He's been in charge of university teams, MLS sides such as the Chicago Fire and New York MetroStars, and the U.S. men's national team. Bradley's resume is impressive, but his National Soccer Hall of Fame induction confirms his status as a legend.

Bradley's career began while he was still earning his Master's degree. He coached Ohio University's men's soccer team in 1981, and he guided his Alma mater, Princeton, to two Ivy League titles and the Final Four in 1993.

Matt Pentz @mattpentz

Congrats to Bob Bradley on his HOF nod. Fun fact: He was the last head coach of the now-defunct Ohio Bobcats men's soccer program

Fellow American head coach Bruce Arena had a big influence on Bradley's career. When Arena was coaching the University of Virginia, Bob was an assistant. The 58-year-old was also a member of Bruce's staff with D.C. United.

Those experiences with Arena helped Bradley gain valuable experience before joining Chicago, New York and Chivas USA.

The Fire won MLS Cup in its expansion season in 1998 and finished as runner-up in 2000. The team also won two U.S. Open Cups in both of those seasons under Bradley.

Bob Bradley is the longest tenured coach in Chicago Fire history.
Bob Bradley is the longest tenured coach in Chicago Fire history.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Before Bradley joined the MetroStars, they were struggling for consistency and failed to reach a major final. They also missed the MLS playoffs three times.

Once he was hired, Bradley guided New York to a U.S. Open Cup final and to the MLS playoffs twice before being fired shortly before the conclusion of the regular season in 2005.

Bradley then took control of another newly formed team in Chivas USA. He took a young side into the playoffs one year removed from one of the single-worst seasons in MLS history.

The tactician's career took off on the international stage when he was named head coach of the USMNT. Ives Galarcep of Fox stated that U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati hired Bradley after at least two failed pursuits of Jurgen Klinsmann.

However, Bradley gave the national team an identity, won a Gold Cup and produced some monumental results along the way.

Some fans were critical of Bradley during his tenure, but, according to ESPN's Leander Schaerlaeckens, the ex-USA coach has the second-highest amount of victories in the team's history. Only Arena has more wins.

OptaJack⚽️ @OptaJack

43 - Bob Bradley is second all-time in wins for #USMNT. Hall.

Bradley's U.S. team gained international recognition during the 2009 Confederations Cup. The Stars and Stripes defeated Spain in the semifinal before a late defeat against Brazil in the final.

Fans who disapproved of Bradley point to three specific results that held back the United States: The blown 2-0 lead versus the Brazilians, the loss to Ghana in the round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup and a capitulation in another final against Mexico at the 2011 Gold Cup.

On the other hand, Brazil was still a strong team, and no one expected the U.S. to make it past the first round of the Confederations Cup.

The USMNT won their World Cup group under Bradley, the first time it occurred since 1930.
The USMNT won their World Cup group under Bradley, the first time it occurred since 1930.Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

As for the World Cup, Ghana was a tireless, hardworking team just like the United States. The Slovenia draw was disappointing, but it was hard fought. Plus, the U.S. won Group C and finished undefeated after 90 minutes in every match. Even if the USMNT advanced, Uruguay probably would have defeated the USA.

The Gold Cup defeat was similar to the Brazil loss. Mexico was simply better, and Bradley knew he was probably getting the sack regardless of the result.

Overall, Bradley's tenure with the USMNT should be considered a success. He molded the team into a competitive squad with a strong identity. If there was one nation opponents wanted to avoid, it was the U.S. 

Kurtis W. Larson @KurtLarSUN

Comparing and contrasting the treatment given to Bob Bradley and Klinsmann is puzzling.

Bradley is also a pioneer for U.S. coaches abroad. He was Egypt's manager before Stabaek made him the first American to coach a team in a top-flight European league. 

Stabaek was a recently promoted side, so the expectations were not high. However, Bradley guided the Norwegian club to a ninth-place finish, 10 points above the relegation zone. 

Bradley is considered a "father" for the new generation of MLS coaches, according to legendary Bulgarian player Hristo Stoichkov. The ex-Barcelona forward played for the likes of Louis van Gaal and Johan Cruyff, so it's special for Stoichkov to say that about the ex-USMNT boss.

The legacy of Bradley should be unquestioned. His induction into the Hall of Fame shows just how much of an impact he's had on the sport in the United States.

Peter Galindo covers MLS and U.S. soccer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @GalindoPW.

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