Bob Bradley was relieved of his duties as U.S. national team coach Thursday. And it’s not a day too soon.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate everything Bradley accomplished during his tenure, including beating world No. 1 Spain at the Confederations Cup and winning a World Cup group with England in it, which is no small task. But it’s always difficult for a coach in a second World Cup cycle. The message becomes stale and there’s bound to be some complacency and favoritism (cough, Jonathan Bornstein, cough).
There was a surge in interest and consciousness among the average American sports fan during Bradley’s reign, namely because of the World Cup run. But because of that heightened awareness, a letup was out of the question. And frankly, the U.S. team has regressed since returning from South Africa. And like I said, that happens with a second go-round. Everyone gets too comfortable.
U.S. fans will rejoice at the news of Bradley’s departure. He was never a fan favorite. Sure he dominated in CONCACAF play, but he should. We’re the god damn United States. If we can’t beat up on the Cubas and Guatemalas of the world, then we should just stick to FIFA11 on XBox.
Bradley’s roster selection has long been the source of much fan consternation. Leaving Stu Holden, one of the English Premier League’s top performers last year, on the bench for damn near the entire World Cup comes to mind. Stubbornly starting Robbie Findley is another. Oh, and did I mention Jonathan Bornstein yet? Bradley only recently began the process of integrating new blood into the setup, with Juan Agudelo, Tim Ream and Timmy Chandler breaking into the squad (Agudelo and Chandler seem ready; Ream, eh, not so much).
Whoever the new coach is (Jurgen Klinsmann perhaps?), there’s plenty in the U.S. pool of players to be excited about. One guy ready for his close-up is Brek Shea. He’s 21-years old, is 6-foot-3, powerful, fast, confident and is second in MLS in goals behind only Thierry Henry. Last week, I was watching the Toronto-Dallas game and texted my roommate that Shea was about to be a breakout star for the U.S. And then he went and did this later in the game.
Agudelo, who I mentioned earlier, is only 18-years old, but has already shown an ability to score at the international level. He’s the creative type of attacking player the U.S. has lacked in the past.
MLS All-Star Geoff Cameron turned 26 this month and is the type of versatile player any team needs. He can play anywhere on the field and do it very well. Plus, he like Shea, is 6-foot-3.
Holden will be 26 next week. Michael Bradley will be 24 this week. Jozy Altidore is 21. Landon Donovan is 29. Clint Dempsey is 28. There’s still plenty of good soccer left there.
Thankfully it’s not up to Bob Bradley to get the best out of it anymore.