Contract Extended, but Don't Expect Bob Bradley To Coach in the 2014 World Cup

Tom SmithCorrespondent IAugust 31, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 10:  Bob Bradley, head coach of United States Soccer stands on the sidelines before the first half of a friendly match at the New Meadowlands on August 10, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Sunil Gulati, the president of U.S. Soccer, has given head coach Bob Bradley a four-year extension on his contract, which will now run through 2014.

Bradley did relatively well in his four years as coach of the men's national team.

 

The U.S. won the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2007, and reached the finals in 2009 (though the 5-0 loss to Mexico in the final was a bit embarrassing).  Reaching the finals of the 2009 Confederations Cup (and beating Spain along the way) was certainly impressive. Pre-tournament expectations were met at the 2010 World Cup by surviving group play and reaching the second round.

 

What Bradley did not do was exceed expectations. He also did not give any indication that he has the creativity or vision necessary to take this team to the next level.

 

Going out in the second round in 2014, or, even worse, getting knocked out in group play, will erase much of the significant but tenuous support the men's team worked so hard to get over the last two years.

 

There is certainly a sizable group of die-hard USMNT supporters, but the sport is still trying to increase its footprint in this country. The "bandwagoners" need to be converted into full-time fans. This happens through winning. It happens through playing exciting soccer—consistently coming from behind is not the "exciting" we're looking for here.
Gulati clearly wasn't happy after the U.S. showing in the World Cup. The team advanced out of the group, but the play was uninspiring.

 

A gift-goal against England in the first match was responsible for one point. The Yanks came from two goals down to earn a tie against Slovenia. Another point. Three points for scoring the only goal of the match in stoppage time against Algeria. Good results, but not impressive. Falling 2-1 to Ghana in the second round was just plain bad.

 

In three of the four WC matches the U.S. played, they gave up a goal in the first 13 minutes. That stinks.

 

It is quite telling that Gulati made Bradley wait just over two months to offer him a new contract. It was obvious that a search was on—from both sides. Had Aston Villa or Fullham of the English Premier League offered Bradley a job that he wanted and sought, we wouldn't have this problem. Had Juergen Klinsmann liked what Gulati had to say in their meeting last week, we wouldn't have this problem.

 

As it is, we are stuck with Bob. The U.S. will probably continue to beat the teams that they are supposed to beat and lose to the better European and South American teams. This is called mediocrity.

 

There is a bright side, however.

 

I don't see U.S. Soccer sticking with Bradley all the way through the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

 

The coaching "search" was, as far as we know, limited to two people—Bradley and Klinsmann. I have no explanation for that, but my gut tells me that if the right man (identity unknown, but I still hope for Klinsmann) becomes available sometime in the next two years, we will see a coaching change.

 

This is not a Bob-Bash. Bob did well in moving us from point B to point C, but I don't think we've seen enough from him to believe that he is the man to move the USMNT to point D.

 

I think that coach is still out there, and that Gulati will have the sense to continue searching.